Inner Geek: Star Wars Crushes Box Office Records

The Inner Geek Series has always been about somewhat geeky heart to hearts. It’s when I invite you into my virtual office for an informal chat, and the conversation almost always streams into something in the World of Geek. It seems only fitting that we take a moment to chat about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Now, before you go all spoiler crazy, I’m sad to say I haven’t seen the movie yet. Therefore, I’m rather ill-equipped to dish out any spoilers, and I’m not here to talk plot. Instead, I’m here to talk about today’s early morning report from The New York Times; the report that says Star Wars is shattering box office records.

The Movies Strike Back

In a galaxy far, far away, people once went to the movie theatre.

Convenience and affordability have become highly sought after commodities in today’s monetary and technology driven world. Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have almost singlehandedly overtaken the tradition of mass movie going.

Netflix is almost as popular as cable among young adults. According to Statista.com:

  • Netflix’s annual revenue is worth over $5.5 million
  • 42 million US subscribers use Netflix’s streaming services
  • 1 million users in the UK and Ireland are also streaming
  • US customer satisfaction is booming

But that’s not all.

When Netflix started, the company catered to DVD rentals. In just a few years, the popularity of convenient rentals delivered to your mailbox put brick-and-mortar video rental stores out of business. Blockbuster is no more.

Red boxes started springing up at every gas station, convenience store, and grocery outlet in my city shortly thereafter. But even RedBox has failed to generate major competition for Netflix.

According to CinemaBlend.com, 2014 was a bad year for theatres. The number of consumers purchasing movie tickets dropped to 1.26 billion, the lowest recorded number since 1995. Why are people staying away from the movie theatre? For starters:

  • The price of movie tickets has more than doubled across the United States.
  • Concession stand prices have followed suit.

Simply put, the cost of going out to the movies often exceeds the cost of purchasing the movie once it is released on DVD. Honestly, unless a movie really grabs my attention and is something I just cannot miss on the big screen, I’d rather spend $15 to $20 on a DVD (or wait for Netflix to stream it) so my entire family of five can watch it at home AND save money.

But we’re talking about Star Wars! Does all of the above really apply?

“In an astounding display of cultural and commercial domination on a global scale — one with little precedent in the 100-year history of Hollywood — the Walt Disney Company’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, earned roughly $517 million in ticket sales worldwide, smashing multiple box office records, even after accounting for inflation.” – The New York Times

Screw cost. Forget convenience. We’re buying that overpriced popcorn and soda, and we’re bringing the kids because this is Star Wars!

We’re talking original cast reprising their roles. We’re talking Chewbacca, people! You cannot put a price on that. So give me a credit card and I’ll worry about paying down the bill later! Am I right?

A (Somewhat) Unfair Advantage

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently ranking number one for box office blowout in North America with some $238 million in ticket sales. It’s followed by:

  • Jurassic World
  • Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Iron Man 3
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The Force Awakens has pulled in $517 million worldwide after inflation. That is damn impressive, but it’s not unexpected.

As a multi-billion dollar brand, Star Wars has some 38 years backing it. The first movie was released on May 25, 1977. It was a huge success trimmed with the most cutting edge visual effects of the time. In many ways, it paved the road to bigger and better special effects.

How do other movies compete with an almost 40-year legacy jammed packed with movies, books, religious fans, and Harrison Ford? It’s all about marketing.

When Content Marketing Works

Like any form of marketing, content marketing is a strategic approach. It is primarily focused on creating and distributing content that is valuable, relevant, and consistent. The ultimate goal is to attract and retain a specific audience that will take action. The action taken varies based on who or what is represented.

For example, movie trailers are a piece of content marketing. The goal is to attract a genre-specific audience that will see the movie while it’s at the theatre. Ideally, the content will generate enough excitement and anticipation to move the audience to go opening weekend.

When content marketing works, goals are met and exceeded. In the world of online marketing, content is geared toward generating website traffic and sales. When it works, it doesn’t matter if the subject of the marketing is backed by a legacy or brand new.

How to Market Like Star Wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was expected to blow box office records away, and it did. What can we learn from it?

  • Target the Right Audience: Successful content marketing begins with identifying your target audience. Disney now owns, produces, and markets Star Wars. Although being known for children’s movies, Disney has expanded to incorporate movies that appeal to all ages. But their marketing isn’t always designed to attract an audience of all ages. Instead, they hone in on the demographics of their ideal audience before creating content specifically tailored to the ideal audience’s tastes, needs, and desires. You need to do the same thing, and if you’re not sure where to start, it’s time to schedule a chat with a reputable content agency.
  • Be Multi-Generational: Star Wars spans a minimum of three generations; the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millenials. It’s possible it will pick up a fourth generation as today’s new parents introduce their child(ren) to Star Wars. As a brand seeking longevity, you need to be adaptable and multi-generational. If your product or service cannot solve a problem or satisfy a need of multiple generations, you could be building a one-shot wonder instead of a lifelong business.
  • Tease: The trailer for The Force Awakens teases just enough. If you’ve seen the original trilogy, it brings you right back to those epic three movies with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. You hear, “There are stories about what happened.” You see Han Solo reply, “It’s true. All of it.” And it sends a shiver down your spine!

    The beauty of this trailer lies in the anticipation it builds for someone who has never seen a single Star Wars movie. My almost-six-year-old son, who has never seen a single Star Wars anything, had to pick his jaw up off the floor after watching the trailer. “Mom,” he said, “we HAVE to see that!”

    The content you market with should tease just enough to paint a picture of awesome without giving it all away. This is how you motivate the audience to action.

  • Deliver: Finally, all of the above falls flat if the end product fails to deliver. Although I’ve not seen The Force Awakens personally, I am hearing rave reviews. It has been anything but a letdown to the majority of moviegoers. At the end of the day, what you deliver matters just as much if not more so than what you market. Never forget that!

Market like a pro in 2016 because your success as a business will depend on it. Learn about the top 2016 SEO predictions that will apply to content marketing, and stay tuned for our 2016 content marketing predictions.


Featured Image Credit: AdWeek.com

One Comment Add yours

  1. I thought this was a great movie. Would love it if you could check out my own 100 Word review:

    http://scribblesofstageandscreen.com/2015/12/19/latest-star-wars-a-tour-de-force-reviewed-in-100-words/

    Liked by 1 person

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