36 years ago, Stephen Spielberg released Jaws during a traditionally quiet time of the year for the box office. It took in seven million dollars that opening weekend, and became the highest grossing film of all time until Star Wars debuted two years later. What followed was a new era of Hollywood, a period in which the summer quarter would account for 40 percent of the entire year’s box office earnings.
It also began the era of extreme (read: shameless) Hollywood marketing. On May 6, 2011 Thor was released, grossing 65 million dollars in its first weekend, and going on to earn more than 430 million dollars worldwide. We’re now deep into the summer blockbuster season.
So it got me wondering: are major studios using their mega movies to drive traffic to their websites?
Over the last two years, it looks like they’ve rarely gotten more than a million unique visitors in a month, with one glaring exception: Warner Brothers, which consistently gets over 2 million UVs a month. Half-Blood Prince was the second highest grossing film of 2009 behind movie mammoth Avatar, and Sherlock Holmes was at number 8. Because these films were driving WB’s traffic up so much, why weren’t other studios benefiting from their movies’ hype? Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time, but it did nothing for Fox’s UVs in December 2009. I realized that unlike WB, other studios don’t host their movies on subdomains—they set up new sites specifically for each movie.
So how do these sites stack up? Here are five of the six top grossing movies domestically this year. Each has a significant spike in daily reach right around their release date.
After just a few days, though, the sites become almost obsolete. Even The Hangover Part II, WB’s subdomain, falls to almost nothing. So then what is it keeping Warner Bros. at the top of the internet game? If it’s not blockbusters bringing in hundreds of millions, what is it?
Ellen DeGeneres’ show seems to drive about half of Warner Bros’ traffic.
I guess daytime TV is a blockbuster, too.