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Denial in Feature Film Marketing

Alternative forms of entertainment continue to cut into boxoffice grosses. Is the time right to rethink traditional movie advertising strategies?

It was precisely the sort of news the studios were dreading. Early last month, OTX, an online research company based in Los Angeles, published a study revealing that the number of young men going to see movies in theaters has plummeted, with males under 25 saying they saw 24 percent fewer films this past summer than last, attributing the decline, in part, to their preference for alternative media.

The OTX study was just the latest proof indicating that film audiences are undergoing a genuine and profound transformation, fueled by expensive ticket prices and a host of rival attractions -- from iPods to the Internet to video games -- which are now a $10 billion-a-year industry.

So, what are marketing executives doing about it? The answer, according to some of their fiercest critics, is: Nothing. That is the viewpoint of skeptics like author Joseph Jaffe, an expert in new media marketing, who argues that as new technology continues to impact the industry -- siphoning audiences away from theaters but also providing new places for advertisers to reach them -- movie marketing seems stuck in the Dark Ages.

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