The Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster Is Not so Much a Film as a Dev

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" I like ideas, especially movie ideas, that you can hold in your hand. If a person can tell me the idea in twenty-five words or less, its going to make a pretty good movie." Steven Spielberg.'

For this essay I intend to discuss how Hollywood as an industry has used the marketing strategies of blockbuster films to significant advantage in film merchandising. Along with the use of mass merchandising as a form of marketing films, with the hope of creating awareness among the public. As merchandising has become one of the most lucrative ‘arenas' for Hollywood Studios to earn a profit. Many blockbuster films today come with novelisations of the films story to toy action figures. This is because the contemporary Hollywood blockbusters, in industry terms are high concept films. These are movies that have a striking, easily reducible narrative, which offer a high degree of marketability. This marketability might be based upon stars, the match between a star and premise or a subject that is fashionable. For these movies to earn more money in other merchandising, they are normally easily reduced to a single image. Such as a man flying for Superman (1978), or the two robots, R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars(1978). This reducibility of narrative to a single image lends its self to the tactile representation of the film, that is, the licensed products constructed around the films characters. These licensed products extend the ‘shelf life' of the movie by replicating the film's characters, action and settings through the products. Brad Globe, who was the head of Licensing and merchandising for Amblin Entertainment had this comment to say on the phenomenon:

‘Licensing is not just about generating revenues. We're really very concerned that the licensing program have a positive impact on the movie and create some consumer awareness for the film.'

Although Films have been merchandised since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), merchandising has become increasingly influential within the past two decades as a form of marketing. Within the last decade have the studios initiated in-house merchandising units within their marketing departments.

Looking back through film history, there are several films from the early 1970's that advanced the influence of film merchandising as a market force. Love Story producer Robert Evans suggested to Erich Segal who had wrote the screenplay to write a book based on his own screenplay. The Book was released by Harper & Row on Valentines Day, 1970. The book turned into a huge success, and spent nine months on the New York Times bestseller list. The book created a high level of anticipation for the film, which was released the following Christmas. The horror film The Omen (1976) further demonstrated the power of novelisations. The book sold over 3 million paperback copies of the book during the release of the film.

On a much grander scale, The Great Gatsby(1974) which was produced by Robert Evans at Paramount Studios had a revolutionary merchandising campaign. Robert Evans and Paramount's then Promotions director Charles O. Glenn assembled a product tie-in scheme valued at $6million. The purpose of this scheme was to create ‘a third level of awareness' for the film. To keep with the emphasis of the film, four brands where selected to represent the style and romance of the movie. These where Ballantine's Scotch, Glemby hairstyling studios, Robert Bruce's men's sportswear, and du Pont's ‘classic white' line in cookware. Thou this merchandising campaign was revolutionary, F. Scott Fitzgerald's daughter complained that "you have turned The Great Gatsby into pots and pans," Paramount was able to emtablish the nostalgic, romantic image of the film, as evidenced by the strong exhibitor advances, through these extensive promotions.

Two years after the release of the Great Gatsby, Paramount studios mounted an even more involved merchandising campaign for its film King Kong. A film that is very...
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