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"Ender's Game" Production Budget and Marketing Strategy

We've all known since early April that the Ender's Game film was pushed from its original March release date to November 1st, 2013. Now, we have a good idea about the strategy behind this move, and also some more clarity about the film's production budget.

Production Budget

Digital Domain Media Group, the company that will be responsible for the hopefully stunning visual effects in Ender's Game, released their quarterly report this week and gave us a bit more insight into the financial framework of the movie. Digital Domain is also co-producing Ender's Game; in fact, this is their first live-action co-production and they hold 37.5% ownership interest in the property. As of Tuesday's report, the production budget changed from $100 million to "slightly in excess of $100 million," which puts Ender's Game in the same ballpark as other high-profile Hollywood movies.

To put this number in perspective: Lionsgate's biggest blockbuster to date, the hugely successful The Hunger Games which returned more than $400 million at the box office so far, had a total production budget of about $80 million.

The Strategy Behind EG Release Date Move

The Hunger Games is also relevant when it comes to understanding the move to November: In a call with investors (PDF) last month, an analyst spoke with Digital Domain's CEO John Textor and asked him to elaborate on the film's release date. His response:

On the release of the film itself, the more powerful part of our release date is that the idea, since Lionsgate controls both Hunger Games and Ender's Game, is that that's a pretty formidable tandem. And if Ender's Game is to open up on one weekend, and Hunger Games is to open up three weeks later, we can make sure -- really, this is Lionsgate's capability -- that they do everything to maximize the joint marketing opportunities between those two films to make sure that the press and all of the attention on Hunger Games, and people are asking for exclusives and this type of thing, they can be redirected to make sure that we get guaranteed exposure for Ender's Game.

And the most important part, in my opinion, and I'm not speaking for Lionsgate -- is that the nice, strong three-week gap between Ender's Game and Hunger Games makes it very difficult for anybody to want to step into the middle of that. So, even if somebody comes before it by a week --they'll have their big opening, and they'll have their big week, and they'll be in their tail off period as we're having our big opening and our big week. What you want to do with that tandem is do your best to make sure everybody -- nobody's crazy enough to jump in between Ender's Game -- Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield and this massive book property -- and Hunger Games, which clearly has shown its muscle at the box office.
This sounds like a very plausible theory to us here at Ender News. The target audience for both Ender's Game and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is roughly the same, yet very different from the Twilight series which Lionsgate also controls. Both are Sci-Fi themed action movies that appeal to both genders alike and marketing will be crucial for the studio to yield those franchises' full potential.

Could be a pretty formidable tandem, indeed.
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