Michael Costello '90 Talks About Movie Marketing

Following a Saturday luncheon in Knowling Fieldhouse, Wabash men split off to attend various scheduled Colloquiums. The individual class reunion dinners will be held tonight across campus.

Michael Costello ’90 told a packed Baxter Hall lecture room about his work with Dreamworks SKG. He is director of field marketing for the movie production company.

Costello explained, and showed video clips, of the different types of trailers used to promote films before their release. He talked about the different types of marketing including the press and marketing with other businesses like fast food companies.

When a major movie is released, it doesn’t take the production companies long to measure its success.  "We know if a movie is going to be a successful venture or a big flop in the first three days," he said. "It’s all about the opening weekend."

He explained that despite the biggest of marketing campaigns, that after a movie is released word of mouth takes over on most movies. "All our advertising after the opening is just a reminder to let people know the movie is still out there."

He also explained the when you go to the movies on opening weekend about 80 percent of your ticket price goes back to the movie company with 20 staying with the local theater. If the movie has an extended run, the theater eventually gets the 80 percent while the company’s cut drops.

He also explained the movie business is cyclical with lots of blockbuster and action films for summer, more serious films in fall, family films around the holidays and then everything else in the spring. The spring is usually not the movie industry’s brightest hour. "It’s mostly crap and usually the worst films of the year," he said, drawing a big laugh.

The marketing is done on several levels with the trailers, television advertising and website development for each new movie. Costello said companies hope for big opening weekends and a good run to cover production and marketing costs then start turning a profit when movies are released to the home theater market.

Still every effort is poured into that first weekend. "We can make garbage smell good for a weekend, but if it’s not a good movie the jig is up."

His colloquium proved especially popular when he gave away movie caps, posters and DVDs to conclude his presentation.

Hewitt is Wabash College's Director of New Media/Web Editor.

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On this page: Michael Costello '90 talked about his marketing job with Dreamworks film during an afternoon Colloquium.