OPINION: The Big Question - Can you ever justify a launch as extravagant as Pearl Harbor's?

The makers of this summer's expected blockbuster war movie spent

more than pounds 3m on a flashy launch event in Hawaii


'It's better to spend on the launch than on the production. It's

marketing that prompts you to see a film. If you decide you didn't like

it - too late, you've already spent your money. A film such as Wild Wild

West was generally considered a flop by critics but did alright at the

box office, propelled by fantastic marketing and tie-ins with pop songs

and a video. If you have either a bad film with marketable elements or a

low budget film which you consider capable of reaching a large market,

then spending money on things like launches can be very important. Pearl

Harbor has blockbuster potential but the nature of its subject matter

makes it a hard film to market. I can understand why the producers want

such a high-profile launch.'


'Morally, I'm not so sure! In terms of "spend", well, Pearl Harbor has

certainly been turned into a major event. The coverage is round the

world and the launch has been quite effective. The film seems to have

been ridiculed because of the size of the launch. In the more cynical

territories - such as the UK - people look at the exercise in a more

jaundiced way than they might. The event itself grabs attention from the

film. Pearl Harbor producers are setting out to establish this as the

summer's major release and with some success. I wonder, though, if the

core audience will be put off by cynical coverage. I assume a

cold-blooded decision was made that this was not to be a reviews-led

film and I suspect people will go and see it.'


'We'd never spend Pearl Harbor kind of money - our budget just wouldn't

let it happen. It's useful to have a big premiere if you want to make a

splash just before the film opens and get people talking about it. But

before we can do anything like that we have to know we have, or can

attract big enough stars to get the media along or if we can get

sponsorship to pay for a large part of the event. There's no point in

just getting everyone along to have a nice time. If you don't have stars

there you don't get coverage. You can get just as effective results

without spending a fortune if you target the event at the right people

I imagine there's a specific agenda behind promoting a film such as

Pearl Harbor. A film like that needs a big-budget launch.'


'For any film company the purpose of a premiere is to give a film a

final push. The column inches that it will gain if the launch is

successful just can't be bought. Pearl Harbor's coverage has been

exceptionally good. But it's important to tailor the launch to the film

and be sympathetic to your subject, whatever that is. Saving Private

Ryan was a good example. It premiered at the Empire in Leicester Square

so it was a big event. But instead of making it glitzy and showbiz, the

event and guests - a lot of whom were war veterans - were treated with

dignity. There was no party afterwards because it was deemed unsuitable

to celebrate after such a film. Yet the premiere still served its

purpose of raising the profile of the film in the final days before it


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