Summer of Doom: 3 Lessons From Hollywood’s Latest Busts

lone ranger movie posterHollywood’s casualty list of major box office flops seems to grow every weekend. From The Lone Ranger to White House Down, some of the summer’s most expensive films have become the most costly mistakes. Some films like R.I.P.D. won’t even be able to recoup their mega-budget price tag. What a stark contrast to Warner Brother’s recent release The Conjuring, which grossed $41.5 million in its opening weekend – earning twice what it cost to make to the film.

Despite marketing efforts in the tens of millions, studios weren’t able to push audiences into the theater to enjoy what should have been massive tent-pole events. Instead, smaller films came out of the blue to surprise even the most veteran Hollywood producers, which is odd when you consider their experience in developing a solid content strategy.

Why Movies – AKA Content on Film – Flop

In spite of the visual wizardry and technical pyrotechnics, the 2013 box office is likely going to be remembered best for its fair share of misfires. There’s blood on the streets of Hollywood – and this year it comes in the form of lost money in the hundreds of millions.

Instead of focusing on fancy visual effects and sensationalized marketing, Hollywood should refocus its attention on the content of its films. Here are the top 3 lessons that content marketers can learn from Hollywood’s 2013 flops.

  1. There are no safe bets. There used to be a time when Hollywood could count on star-power and celebrity names to draw crowds to the box office. But if 2013 is any indication, that is no longer true. Likewise, in content marketing, you can’t bank on cheap tricks or fancy headlines. Your content has to deliver and stand on its own merit.
  2. Forget about the grapevine. Films such as The Lone Ranger and Battleship were made because studios realized similar films had succeeded in the past. But just because you’ve seen something work before, it doesn’t mean it should be emulated. Of course, any skilled content marketer will try to get inspiration from competition or industry leaders, but you can’t be completely reliant on recycling old works and ideas.
  3. Sometimes the market is overcrowded. One of the most apparent reasons for these back-to-back blockbuster flops is that the summer box office is unusually crowded. Likewise, content marketers should want to be ahead of the bandwagon, not the ones jumping on it. Don’t fight for attention – create it. And then time it well.

What box office flops made you rethink your content strategy? Have you had marketing flops this summer?

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Daniel Chioco is a writer living in Nashville, TN. He earned his Commercial Music degree at Belmont University, where he also studied creative writing and wrote for the student newspaper. When he isn't creating content, Daniel works as an actor and films YouTube videos. He is also a freelance musician and is authoring his first fantasy novel.

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