Moonrise Kingdom and the Success of the Platform Release

The most frequent question that we’ve seen on tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook has been, “When is Moonrise Kingdom opening in my hometown?” If you yourself have asked this question, you are part of the success story of Moonrise‘s platform release strategy.

First, let’s turn to wikipedia for a definition of a platform release:

A platform release is a limited release strategy, whereby the film opens in only a few theaters, then gradually expands to more theaters as word of mouth spreads and the marketing campaign gains momentum. Depending on the film’s success, there is even the possibility to expand into a wide release. The advantage of this strategy is that marketing costs are conserved until a film’s performance has been established. This way, if a film turns out to be very popular or critically acclaimed, the distributor may opt to spend more money than originally planned and push for a wider release; if the movie flops, the distributor can withdraw from the campaign without having spent much money promoting and advertising the film.

As you may have heard, MR opened in only four theaters (two in New York and two in Los Angeles), but the film earned $167,250 per screen, which is highest per-theater box office average for a non-animated film of all time.

Join us after the jump for more thoughts regarding MR‘s success.
There are many reasons for this early success: a famous, well-proven cast, an accessible and relatable plot (young love), and the trailer, which guaranteed that the film was sure to have a rightful place in the Wes Anderson canon.

Focus Features has employed very clever and strategic promotion of this film, via exclusive videos, posters, social media (website, blog, Facebook), and giveaways all in hopes to build up solid word-of-mouth for the film. Excellent early reviews from Cannes (and continuing excellent reviews) have only increased the buzz. As Wes is such an venerated persona and his movies are so well loved (see: this website), the promotion spoke to his target audience: people who are young, socially connected, and already love his films.

Focus had great success with this marketing strategy with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which also opened on just a few screens and then expanded once positive word-of-mouth had spread.

“One of the things a platform allows you to do is really get a firm sense of who’s going to your movie,” said David Linde, former Chairman of Universal Pictures. You have the chance to see who the movie is working to, and that helps you determine how best to expand into new theaters.”

To think of this another way, aside from the trailer, how many promotional videos did you see for Fantastic Mr. Fox? Not one-tenth the volume we’ve seen for MR. Consider again that FMF was a children’s film which generally would have significant promotional tie-ins (and had significant merchandising opportunities), the effort put into MR is even more dramatic. (Yes, there was a very clever tail-tie promotion and a few British McDonald’s toys, but it’s still significantly minimal compared to, say, the latest Disney venture.)

Experian, an analytics organization, notes that:

This platform release strategy is proving to be highly effective for Focus Features’ Moonrise Kingdom. Indeed, the volume of clicks for the search terms “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Wes Anderson” in the Los Angeles designated marketing area (DMA) are more than 5 times larger than for the online population as a whole. Whereas relevant searches began to climb in LA in March, “Moonrise Kingdom” searches for the online population kicked off just before Memorial Day weekend and are beginning to rise.

So what have we learned? If you’re reading this post, following this blog, or if you’ve “Liked” us on Facebook, tweeted about Moonrise , reblogged the latest stills from the film on Tumblr, you are part of the success of the campaign. Well done. If you’re still waiting for the movie to be released where you live, keep your chin up and keep checking this list for theaters near you (and also know that that list is incomplete, so you may need to do a bit of sleuthing on your own.)

(To give credit where credit is due, this post was inspired by Dorothy Pomerantz’s post in Forbes.)

Photo of Wes Anderson via ANTWRANGLER

8 Replies to “Moonrise Kingdom and the Success of the Platform Release”

    1. @dave Thanks for the link! We actually included a link to that in our latest Friday News Round-Up. KCRW has a great trove of WA media. 🙂

  1. Can I make a personal request that MRK please come to NC soon? I love Wes’ films and don’t think I can make it much longer. I might hyperventilate or do something rash like start wearing sweatpants in public. This is serious.

  2. @Carol, “Why are you wearing pajamas? Do you live here?” (obligatory link) Wes would be horrified. Keep in mind that the list of theaters on the official website isn’t wholly accurate– try calling around to the arty theaters (maybe in college towns?) It’s worth the effort!

  3. Really, really love Wes Anderson’s work. Sad to say that I’ve called almost every cinema in the 6 hour proximity of my area, and at this point, all I want is someone to answer the phone and tell me they actually know what Moonrise Kingdom is. It’s such a shame that it’s probably not going to be released in my country. 🙁

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