With the recent dismissal of longtime Kansas City Star movie critic Robert Butler, it got me thinking about the newspaper’s glory days with the film industry…
After all, Kansas City is one of the best per capita moviegoing markets in the country.
Industry insiders claim it’s about 25% above the national average.
And up until a few years ago the Star‘s movie ad pages were a feast for entertainment seeking eyes! Especially beginning in early May when the summer blockbusters began to open.
Friday usually was the BIG day!
Quarter and half-page movie display ads. Full page ads announcing Hollywood’s newest cinematic offerings. Some in color. Even double truck ads occasionally heralding a potential tentpole movie. One could count maybe 3—even 4 pages of movie display ads back then. And they were in addition to the theatre’s large individual directory ads!
Fast forward to the latter part of the past decade when certain smaller distributors like Lionsgate decided against placing display ads for their shocker entries like the SAW series.
Was it just a new fad—or a sign of things to come?
Judge for yourself! About 3 weeks ago on Friday, May 6th, the Star‘s movie display pages had shrunk to a total of about 1 to 1 1/3 pages.
And it was the opening weekend for Paramount’s new tentpole adventure THOR!
Paramount skipped placing an opening day ad for THOR altogether.
Also M.I.A. on May 6th was an opening day ad for Warner Brother’s SOMETHING BORROWED.
A week later on Friday, May 13th the movie ads were down to just about 3/4 of a page and Sony Picture Releasing decided against placing an ad for PRIEST.
Would this trend continue? It has!
This past Friday, May 20th the Walt Disney Company launched its summer blockbuster PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES . To the biggest boxoffice opening so far in 2011.
And you guessed it—WITHOUT any display ad in the KANSAS CITY STAR.
Unheard of by previous Disney standards.
Three quarters-sized Friday opening day movie ad pages and 1/8 page weekday directory placements.
Again, industry insiders predict that in the not too distant future those theatre directory ads could very well go the way of the newspaper classifieds.
At a small get together of about 10 media people a few weeks back I took an informal and very unscientific, two question poll.
First question: How many had seen a movie at a theater since last Christmas? They all had.
Follow up question: How many had checked the newspaper’s movie directory ads for theatre and showtimes?
This 25 to 54 year old assembly had all turned to the numerous websites available for such easily obtainable information.
And if that’s not telling enough—try this on for size!
A local theater management executive shared the following hard to believe story. Seems the showtimes in their newspaper’s directory ads for a major new movie were listed incorrectly that weekend.
You’d think people would be up in arms when they arrived at the boxoffice. After all, wrong feature times would mean missing part of the movie. Or find it was sold out!
Wrong! Not a single complaint registered.