The Annual 2004: The Year in ... Cinema

Cinema in 2004 was characterised by sequels, new categories of advertiser and the most admissions for 32 years, Debbie Chalet writes.

The cinema sector has been even more interesting than usual over the past few months. The purchase of Britain's two major cinema circuits, Odeon and UCI, by Terra Firma's Guy Hands is likely to shake up the industry, although whether or not the two brands will merge remains to be seen.

This year has also witnessed record-breaking admissions in July and box-office hits in both the animated (Shrek 2) and documentary (Fahrenheit 9/11) genres. This wider variety of releases has, in turn, led to a broadening cinema audience, which has fuelled admissions with older cinemagoers (but not OAPs).

The UK cinema advertising market is divided between Carlton Screen Advertising and Pearl & Dean; CSA holds the contracts for Odeon, UCI and Cine UK among others, while the contracts held by Pearl & Dean include UGC and Vue (formerly Warner Village). Ad revenue has been static year on year but, despite a slow start to the year, things seem to be picking up with a strong year-end forecast.

Advertisers are often driven to anchor their advertising in specific films. Therefore, spend can be erratic and concentrated in specific periods of the year when potential blockbusters are released. We try to dissuade advertisers from doing this, but 2004 has nevertheless followed this pattern and, consequently, revenues have picked up as big films have been released in the second half of the year.

There has been a host of new advertisers to cinema this year, with the fastest-growing product categories in the retail, pharmaceutical and cosmetics and toiletries sectors. Campaigns such as those by Ikea and Nivea have really used cinema's full potential. Nivea Soft has sponsored a season of female films this year, including Wimbledon and The Stepford Wives, and is further pushing its relationship with film by partnering Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

Orange continues to support film, and its "gold spot" credit keeps getting better, pulling in big names from the industry - I think I've heard more laughs for its spot than for many of the films I've gone on to watch.

This year also saw the introduction of Orange Wednesdays, which allows Orange users to get two tickets for the price of one at cinemas nationwide.

Initial feedback shows that it is working well, with 50 per cent of texted vouchers redeemed, and this figure continues to rise.

Another advertiser that has nurtured an ongoing relationship with the audience is Stella Artois. I love the cinematic quality of its ads and the latest execution, "pilot", is as engaging as any short film. The teen Road Safety "cribs" ad is another great example where the advertiser credits the viewer with intelligence and refers the target audience to a topical television show. The ad is so upbeat and familiar that it really makes you take a breath in shock as it ends; of course, this effect is amplified on the big screen.

Film sequels have dominated proceedings this year. Shrek 2, released in July, took more than £47 million in the UK box office, Spider-Man 2 took £26 million and the long-awaited follow-up to Bridget Jones' Diary has proved to be another lucrative blockbuster.

Despite this, film product is changing and we are seeing increasing variety from film distributors. So far this year there have been 17 documentaries, including Bus 174, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Super Size Me, which appeal to different audiences and encourage new blood to the cinema.

Acknowledged as the best medium for targeting 15- to 34-year-olds, cinema now attracts a much broader audience. Period films, comedy dramas and remakes of Hollywood classics are bringing in a more mature set.

Seventy-one per cent of over-45s now go to the cinema, up 300 per cent in ten years. In fact, 45-plus was the largest single age group to watch Lord of The Rings last year.

The Cinema Advertising Association predicts a record-breaking 2004, with admissions expected to total 180 million - the highest for 32 years. This clearly represents great news for cinema advertisers. Coupled with investment in digital projection and the future of the medium, things are looking good for film producers, distributors, cinema exhibitors, cinemagoers and advertisers alike.

When will the digital revolution happen? Cinema owners, predominantly UCI and Ster Century, are already experimenting with the new technology. The UK Film Council is also planning to install up to 250 digital systems in the next 18 months. This project, mainly funded by National Lottery contributions, aims to broaden movie choice in the UK by making cinema more accessible both to distributors and viewers. At Carlton Screen Advertising, we have installed digital projectors in 230 screens in the UK.

2005 looks like it will be a good year with more great sequels: Meet the Fockers in January is the follow-up to the Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro comedy Meet the Parents; Ocean's Twelve, out in February, is sure to be another hit and, of course, the final part in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, is released in May, not to mention Batman Begins in June and Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire toward the end of the year.

As long as distributors continue to release film product of such a high standard and that appeals to diverse audiences, the future for advertising in the UK cinema industry looks assured.

- Debbie Chalet is the chief executive of Carlton Screen Advertising


1. Orange "Alan Cumming", "Sean Astin", "Verne Troyer"

Mother's quartet of turn-your-mobile-off-you're-in-the-bloody-cinema ads show what happens when you aim high and think big (or, in the case of Sean Astin, small). They're also that rare breed in 2004 - the made-for-cinema ad.

Agency: Mother

Writer: Yan Elliot

Art director: Luke Williamson

Director: Brian Buckley

Production company: Hungry Man

Media agency: Initiative

2. Pepsi Max "can-fu"

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO turned to an obscure Japanese internet film and made one of the best ads of the year in the process. Using an animation technique that has the potential to be clumsy and obvious, the film demands repeat viewings and grows more impressive each time it's seen.

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writer: Stephen Moss

Art director: Jolyon Finch

Director: Tom Carty

Production company: Gorgeous

Media agency: MindShare

3. Tango Apple "velcro"

Clemmow Hornby Inge's work for Tango Apple shows there's still a strong pulse in the "you know when you've been Tango'd" campaign it resurrected in 2002. In the process, it's also made a bit of a rod for its own back-coming up with something to top "velcro" is going to be tough.

Agency: Clemmow Hornby Inge

Writer: Brian Turner

Art director: Mickey Tudor

Director: Ulf Johanssen

Production company: Smith & Jones

Media agency: MindShare

4. Observer Music Monthly "Abba to Zappa"

Any ad that gets audiences wishing for a repeat so they can fill in the gaps is on to a winner. Mother's spot for the Observer Music Monthly gives a tantalising A-to-Z tour of music and makes it nearly impossible to name all the featured artists in one viewing. How many did you manage?

Agency: Mother

Writers: Stu Outhwaite, Ben Middleton

Art directors: Stu Outhwaite, Ben Middleton

Director: Smith & Foulkes

Production company: Nexus Productions

Media agency: PHD

5. Lynx "touch"

One day, Bartle Bogle Hegarty will make a bad Lynx ad. But, until then, we will continue to be treated to witty, sexy and suggestive ads such as "touch", where a man develops some interesting new powers over women's clothing.

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Writer: Claudia Southgate

Art director: Verity Fenner

Director: Danny Kleinman

Production company: Large

Media agency: Initiative

6. Levi's "Hispanic"

Not a number-one single in sight in BBH's ads for Levi's "anti-fit" range of jeans. "Hispanic" sees two friends debating the pros and cons of baggy jeans and, despite being wholly in Spanish, gets both the humour and message across with style and aplomb.

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Writer: Nic Gill

Art directors: Nic Gill, Stephen Butler

Director: Speck/Gordon

Production company: Outsider/Omaha

Media agency: Starcom Motive

7 HSBC "hole in one"

One of Lowe's final ads in the "local knowledge" campaign before losing creative duties on the HSBC account to JWT, "hole in one" is also one of the best. A US businessman hits a hole in one, expects to buy a drink or two for his Japanese clients but ends up having to buy expensive gifts for them instead. It couldn't possibly happen again, could it?

Agency: Lowe

Writer: Sam Cartmell

Art director: Jason Lawes

Director: Eric Lynne

Production company: Partizan Midi Minuit

Media agency: ZenithOptimedia

8. Department of Health "smoking testimonial"

This year saw some of the most chilling anti-smoking advertising ever, what with fat-dripping cigarettes, an interview with a dying man keen to see his daughter one last time, and smoking babies, breathing plumes of horrifically realistic CGI smoke. With shots of diseased lungs being mooted for cigarette packets in 2005, the on-screen advertising isn't likely to start pulling its punches in the near future.

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writer: Richard Foster

Art director: John Horton

Director: Malcolm Venville

Production company: Therapy Films

Media agency: Starcom Mediavest

9. Carling "the big match"

The British Wednesday afternoon skins versus shirts PE ritual is updated and upscaled in Leith London's film for Carling. Shot in Glasgow with a cast of hundreds, "the big match" was one of the football and lager tie-ins in the run-up to Euro 2004. (We were robbed, by the way.)

Agency: Leith London

Writer: Pete Cain

Art director: Louis Bogue

Director: Kevin Thomas

Production company: Thomas Thomas Films

Media agency: Vizeum

10. Smirnoff "matrioskha"

Weird Cold-War theme from JWT in which a female spy evades capture by shedding outer layers and growing ever smaller a la a Russian doll. Smirnoff ads have needed a kick in recent years, and this campaign seems to have done it. Time to have a look at those alcopops next, we think ...

Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Jason Berry

Art director: Martin Krejzlik

Director: Ivan Zacharias

Production company: Stink

Media agency: Carat


1. Shrek 2 £48m, Dir: Andrew Adamson and Kelly Asbury

The newly wed ogres head off to meet the parents in the smash follow-up to the surprise animation hit. Shrek 2 is one of those rare sequels that manages to trump its predecessor. The computer animation never detracts from superior storytelling and the genuinely funny script has enough fart gags and nods to contemporary culture to keep both the kids and the parents happy.

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban £46m, Dir: Alfonso Cuaron

Young Harry is starting to look a little too long in the tooth to convince audiences that he's the preternaturally powerful pre-teen of the Potter books. And with JK Rowling knocking the stories out faster than Warner Bros can make them, the prospect of Harry as Hogwart's oldest remedial student is looming.

3. Spider-Man 2 £27m, Dir: Sam Raimi

A second helping of superheroic angst from Sam Raimi, with Tobey Maguire's stressed Spider-Man juggling college, work, crime-fighting and relationship and suffering a bit of a spidey-breakdown in the process. Throw the evil machinations of Dr Otto Octavius- Doctor Octopus-into the mix and it's surprising the poor lad even manages to get up in the morning.

4. The Day After Tomorrow £25m, Dir: Roland Emmerich

Preposterous enviro-disaster epic in which all conventional wisdom about the greenhouse effect and global warming is turned on its head when carbon dioxide emissions cause the fastest ice age in geological history to hit the US. Can climatologist Dennis Quaid rescue his son Jake Gyllenhaal from the New York City Library before he dies of hypothermia? Does anyone care?

5. Troy £18m, Dir: Wolfgang Petersen

Helen cheats on hubby Menelaus with Paris, son of Priam, the king of Troy, sparking all manner of trouble between the in-laws. The sight of Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and Sean Bean in leather skirts adds a certain spice to Wolfgang Petersen's epic, but the howlingly bad dialogue eventually sands down the visual veneer leaving a long, dull film - and the audience - gasping for air.

6. I, Robot £18m, Dir: Alex Proyas

"Suggested by" rather than based on the novels of Isaac Asimov, I, Robot is set in a future where robots do all the work. The movie stars Will Smith as a robophobic Chicago cop called in to investigate a murder for which a robot is the prime suspect, even though that violates one of the three Laws of Robotics. Could there be a sinister plot underneath the seemingly dreary domestic world of robots? It's hard to tell.

7. Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed £16m, Dir: Raja Gosnell

Those pesky kids and their computer-generated Great Dane investigate (yet) another dastardly villain in the sequel to the live-action version of Hanna-Barbera's mystery cartoon. Alicia Silverstone does little for her big-screen currency by taking a guest-star turn as a news reporter. Bland, uninspiring stuff, but probably not bad if you're ten years old.

8. Van Helsing £15m, Dir: Stephen Sommers

British audiences spent more than £15 million watching the "famed" monster hunter, Dr Gabriel Van Helsing, head off to familiar East European territory to do battle with Count Dracula, who has teamed up with the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster. They say trouble comes in threes ...

9. Starsky & Hutch £12m, Dir: Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips serves up a lukewarm rehash of the classic 70s cop series and doesn't know whether he's making an all-out pastiche in the vein of The Partridge Family or a period thriller a la Boogie Nights. Falling somewhere in the middle, Starsky & Hutch is OK for a transatlantic flight, but you'd have felt a little cheated paying good money to see this one at the cinema.

10. Shark Tale £12m, Dir: Bibo Bergeron and Vicky Jenson

With more fins than a Hoxton nightclub, Shark Tale is DreamWorks' answer to Pixar's Finding Nemo. Much like the Spielberg-backed company did with Antz when A Bug's Life crawled on to the big screen, Shark Tale has gone big on vocal talent-Robert de Niro and Angelina Jolie lend their cords - but has skimped on story. Still, what do we know? - the kids loved it.


1. Shaun of the Dead

Cut-outs of zombies trying to escape from phone boxes and taxis introduced the public to the film's storyline and humour. The film used a series of stunts to bring its theme to life, including creating zombie-infected areas in public. Actors dressed as zombies were driven around in taxis and released in high-traffic areas, then herded into controlled zones and cordoned off with hazard tape.

Client: UIP

Media agency: ZenithOptimedia

2. Thunderbirds

The highlight of this promotion from United International Pictures was the building of a 100ft rocket in Trafalgar Square. This was accompanied by fully wrapped London buses in the style of Thunderbird 3.

Client: UIP

Media agency: ZenithOptimedia

3. Ocean's 12

The film was launched at the Monaco Grand Prix by the Jaguar Formula 1 team and members of the cast: Matt Damon, George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Jaguar's F1 cars sported a diamond on their noses, linking in with the film's story about a diamond heist.

Client: Warner Bros

Media agency: PHD

4. Super Size Me

This film got McDonald's into such a lather that it took ads out in the press denouncing it. In response, Tartan Films took out an ad in The Times, thanking McDonald's for "promoting not only the film but also the issues raised in the film".

Client: Tartan Films

Media agency: Red Consultancy

5. Shrek 2

As well as tie-ups with brands such as Cereal Partners' Mud and Worms, GlaxoSmithKline's Ribena and Unilever ice-creams, DreamWorks also used digital and direct marketing. The highlight of the campaign was live-action ads on 63-inch plasma screens in shopping centres. It also used cut-out images of the main characters in the back windows of taxis.

Client: UIP

Media agency: ZenithOptimedia

6. Starsky & Hutch

Disney began causing a buzz about the remake of 70s cop show Starsky & Hutch with a burst of activity on five including showing shows in the same genre, such as Charlie's Angels. An outdoor campaign featuring the the pair's famous Ford Torino supported it. One hundred lenticular sites showed the car apparently in motion.

Client: Disney

Media agency: Vizeum

7. Alien Versus Predator

This film that pits the movie monsters Alien and Predator against each other capitalised on their cult status by getting fans to vote for the winner. A mobile push also offered fans downloadable wallpapers and ringtones. A poster campaign used an innovation from JC Decaux that enabled passers-by to vote for the outcome.

Client: 20th Century Fox

Media agency: Starcom Mediavest

8. Open Water

Hyped as the Blair Witch Project meets Jaws, this art-house movie generated interest and intrigue with an integrated campaign including posters, online, radio and PR. Letters were written to newspapers about sharks, the Discovery Channel hosted a Shark Week and there was a competition to win a trip to South Africa to swim with great white sharks.

Client: Redbus

Media agency: Mediaedge:cia

9. The Day After Tomorrow

With Dennis Quaid, the film's most recognisable star, unable to do publicity in the UK, 20th Century Fox decided to use the film's link with global warming as its main promotional tool. The company, in conjunction with groups such as Greenpeace, showed environmental and science editors a sneak preview of the film. It also struck a deal with the climate change organisation Future Forests and warned of how much carbon travelling to and from the cinema would create. It also invested in two Future Forests projects in the Caribbean and Bhutan.

Client: 20th Century Fox

Media agency: Starcom Mediavest

10. Spider-Man 2

Columbia Tristar had a tough task reaching its target teenage audience. Columbia Tristar sponsored the Hit 40 UK Chartshow in the first week of its opening. It also teamed up with Burger King, to offer a Kids' Meal with Web Fries, which came in an box with games and take-home items.

Client: Columbia Tristar

Media agency: Manning Gottlieb OMD


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