Will 'Immortals' be hurt by Call of Duty, Skyrim game launches?
On Tuesday the latest sequel in one of the video game industry's most successful franchises, Call of Duty, sold 6.5 million copies in a single day, setting a new record. Hitting stores today is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the follow-up to 2007's hit fantasy game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Many in Hollywood are concerned that video games and other forms of digital entertainment are keeping young consumers glued to their screens in the home rather than venturing out to theaters.
That phenomenon poses a particular challenge for this weekend's new release "Immortals," an R-rated ultra-violent action movie for which the core audience is men between 17 and 34. Terry Curtin, president of marketing for studio Relativity Media, said she was well aware of the predicament.
Rather than attempt to trump the Call of Duty and Skyrim hype, Relativity is trying to take advantage of it. Video game players who use Microsoft's Xbox 360, the most popular console for players of the two games, can see an ad for "Immortals" front and center on the console's "welcome" screen every time it turns on.
In addition, Relativity bought time to promote "Immortals" on retail chain GameStop's in-store TV network Monday night when hard-core players picked up their copies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 at midnight.
Research firm Ipsos OTX has found that despite the long lines outside of game stores around a big launch, there's no effect on overall moviegoing. Total box office on weekends following the debut of the most popular game titles doesn't deviate significantly from historical norms, said Vincent Bruzzese, president of OTX's motion picture group.
"The people who are so dedicated to playing video games that it prevents them from going out to a movie for a few hours probably wouldn't go anyway," said Bruzzese. "They would be playing some other game."
Reaching those consumers with a marketing message for a specific movie, however, can be difficult when so much of their attention is focused on the multi-player modes in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and the swords in Skyrim. In addition, because they spend so many hours playing the new games, twentysomething guys are less likely to see television commercials.
Social media research shows that conversations among young males on Twitter, Facebook and other outlets are more focused on video games than movies.
As ticket sales roll in this weekend, Relativity will find out whether gamers are willing to put down their controllers for a few hours of non-interactive beheadings.
— Ben Fritz
Top photo: GameStop employee Bradley Duncan gives away Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 posters during a launch event for the highly anticipated video game at a store in North Las Vegas, Nev. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images. Bottom photo: Henry Cavill in "Immortals." Credit: Jan Thijs / Relativity Media.