CHALLENGE: What is a ‘tent pole’ film?
The first person to research and find out the
correct answer wins!
Sometimes film institutions know that a film is going to be a
major success, there might be a big buzz created about the film
before it’s even released. Especially if it has been a successful
book, comic, computer game or TV series beforehand.
Why do you think that film institutions think that these will
make a successful film?
Film institutions often invest a larger portion of
money in to a tent pole film – a film they know
will be successful such as a big summer action
block buster or adaptation of a popular book.
This often guarantees them a large profit which
they can then use to invest into other, more
risky film projects.
Warner Bros and Tent poles
J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Arthur Conan Doyle are, oddly, holding together the hopes and
dreams of executives at Warner Bros. Variety put together a list of the tentpole projects
Warner Bros. has in development.
Tentpole movies are films that studios believe will make several hundred million dollars
worldwide, assuming they don’t suck. Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, and Transformers are
examples of tentpole film franchises. These types of movies are crucial, since they fund a
variety of lower scale projects for studios. A large portion of movies don’t turn a profit at the
box office, which is why Warner Bros. executives deem it necessary to have a stable slate of big
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - release 7/25/09
• Sherlock Holmes - 12/25/09
• Clash of the Titans - 3/26/10
• Sex and the City 2 - 4/28/10
• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 - 11/19/10
• The Green Lantern - 6/17/11
• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 - 7/15/11
• Happy Feet 2 - 11/18/11
• The Hobbit, Part 1 - 12/**/11
• The Hobbit, Part 2 - 12/**/12
Males younger than 25 Females younger than 25
Males older than 25 Females older than 25
Movie studio executives and marketers consistently look at the
audience makeup of their films in four quadrants:
To be a success at the box
office, films must appeal
to as many of the
quadrants as possible.
An indie film might only
appeal to one of the
The more quadrants it
appeals to, the bigger the
audience and the more
likely it is to make a profit
Marketing indie films
The indie folk need to be more nimble than the major studios because they typically
do not have the same access to mobile, radio and TV. The Conspirator, a movie about
Lincoln’s assassination directed by Robert Redford, opened to mixed (i.e poor) reviews
at early first film festivals. Lacking good word-of-mouth, the team needed to go direct
to their “old male” quadrant of fans, focusing on the Midwest, Civil War groups and
history buffs. Robert Redford promoted his film by appearing on the Charlie Rose
show (affordable TV) and by doing interviews with AARP (affordable print). Because of
his efforts, the film managed to earn a satisfactory $3.5 million on opening weekend.
• When it comes to segmenting audiences, marketers use the following definitions:
• General public – A blockbuster must appeal to all four quadrants: young, old, male
and female, which drives the marketing costs up to and over $100 million.
• Multi-core – A movie like Soul Surfer appeals to several different audiences,
including Christian, mother/daughter and extreme sports fans.
• Single-core – A Christian movie like Fireproof (marketed by the same company
as Soul Surfer) sells well in a tight but large enough community.
Things to consider for your case study:
Who is the film marketed at? (Consider the
quadrants. Consider methods of marketing
Can you write a definition of quadrant
marketing in your book?
Can you list the four quadrant groups?
Can you think of a film that appeals to each
The quadrant call out!
Each of you represents
a different quadrant.
Each quadrant has a
You will now see a
series of film posters.
If you think it appeals
to your quadrant, call
out your buzzer sound!
A film might have one
buzzer sound or even
Males younger than 25
Females younger than 25
Males older than 25
Females older than 25