Batman, Spiderman power cinema ad sales to above pre-pandemic levels

A strong Q1 and mouthwatering 2022 movie slate has left cinema ad chiefs bullish, with one channelling the spirit of supermodel Linda Evangelista in her appraisal of the sector.

Spiderman could not have foreseen how successful cinema would be at the start of 2022
Spiderman could not have foreseen how successful cinema would be at the start of 2022

Cinema ad sales are predicted to exceed pre-pandemic levels this year due to a strong start powered by rival superheroes Spiderman and The Batman bringing cinemagoers and brands back to the big screen.

The UK’s largest cinema advertising company, Digital Cinema Media (DCM), reported a huge rise in cinema ad spend, with 2022 Q1 revenue exceeding the peak levels in 2019 and “smashing” its budget by 18%.

Rival cinema advertising business Pearl & Dean has also seen ad sales levels on par with 2019, and is already in discussions with clients about its Q4 laydown – which is rare this early on in the year. It has also reported strong demand for partnerships.

Both believe growth this year will be driven by an impressive slate of movies, including the hotly anticipated sequels to Jurassic World, Doctor Strange, Avatar, Top Gun, Thor, Fantastic Beasts and Black Panther (see Pearl & Dean's film montage below).

Another driving factor that should benefit cinema, and other traditional mass reach categories like outdoor, is the inflation of TV advertising spots.

DCM told Campaign that nearly all traditional cinema advertisers have returned, with new business including direct to consumer online brands – the likes of Deliveroo, Just Eat, Getir, Kazoo, and so on – driving additional growth.

The top spending categories include entertainment and media, telecoms, finance, motors, food, travel and transport; and online retail.

DCM also points to cinema’s fixed CPTs (cost per thousands – also known in the industry as CPMs) attracting advertisers in a media in which TV advertising is inflating, while claiming it is the “most impactful 16-34 price regulator in AV”.

Advertisers are also committing to long-term investments with the gold spot – the ad directly before a movie begins – already sold out for films including Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Jurassic World 3, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar 2.

“This outstanding start to the year proves that the cinema medium is very much alive and in an amazing shape,” DCM chief executive Karen Stacey said.

“Consumer and advertiser confidence remains strong, with a continued appeal to be captivated by great stories on the big screen in an immersive, distraction-free environment. We’re confident that the year ahead will be nothing short of amazing and this is the time for brands to start taking advantage of the incredible upcoming film slate.”

Is cinema doing a Linda Evangelista?

Pearl & Dean has seen bookings “neck and neck” with the equivalent period in 2019, but more brands looking to cement their spot in Q4 than in previous years.

In fact, Pearl & Dean has received such strong demand for partnership briefs that it has had "to do a Linda Evangelista”, which is code for not getting out of bed below a certain sized monetary offer. The 90s supermodel famously once said: "We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day."

“Partnerships and experiences are really attracting clients,” Pearl & Dean chief executive Kathryn Jacob said. “We’re being mindful of what is deliverable and will create the required impact – so we’re looking at briefs carefully. Some partners are looking for sustained brand relationships and this requires a certain level of investment, cue the Linda Evangelista line.”

It’s not just indoor cinema sales and audience figures that are pleasing ad sales chiefs; there is a growing interest in brands looking to capitalise on outdoor summer cinema experiences.

Campaign understands that the online used car marketplace heycar has secured a partnership for The Luna Cinema this year, which has 38 outdoor venues across the UK.

A late-year shot in the arm for cinema ad sales could also arise from an event taking place thousands of miles away. The Fifa World Cup in Qatar, which runs in late November to just before Christmas, is predicted by industry sources to increase TV advertising costs in Q4 by 15% to 30%.

Cinema ad sales chiefs believe this could force some brands to shift some of the AV budget into cinema, with sales around Avatar 2 likely to be an attractive proposition.

After being closed for much of the pandemic, cinema has come roaring back and even Linda Evangelista might roll out of bed for it.

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