Public Relations and the Box Office: How PR Impacts Film Success

Tara Figg
 Posted on 11, May 2023

Ever since the pandemic, the film industry has suffered due to the closing of theaters, production facilities, and other institutions during quarantine. Yes, the world is opening back up, and ticket sales are increasing. But so is the cost of making movies (along with the cost of everything else).

Are theaters selling enough tickets to justify keeping their doors open? Streaming has put a kibosh on much of their revenue. So many people find it easier, cheaper, and more convenient to stay home and stream. There are over 200 different streaming platforms available worldwide - why go to the movies?

But if people aren’t going to the movies … why make movies at all, at least on the scale of the past? These are questions that those in the film industry are having a hard time answering.

Making a Movie … Relevant

Film has always been a fiercely competitive world, where standing out from the crowd and capturing the attention of moviegoers is crucial for success. While creative storytelling, talented actors, and compelling visuals are essential, the role of public relations (PR) cannot be underestimated.

PR plays a pivotal role in shaping public perception, generating buzz, and driving audience engagement. Effective PR strategies can significantly impact the success of films at the box office - so let’s explore several key PR tactics used by the film industry, why they’re important, and how they can be best utilized.

Building Anticipation and Buzz

Remember Cloverfield? Prior to its release, the movie utilized a viral marketing campaign that cleverly blended reality and fiction to captivate audiences. The film's teaser trailer, released without a title or plot details, generated immense curiosity and speculation among moviegoers. This strategic move created a sense of mystery and anticipation, sparking conversations and generating significant online buzz.

PR professionals are masters at building anticipation and generating buzz around upcoming films. From the early stages of production, they craft strategic PR campaigns to create awareness and excitement among the target audience. This includes teaser trailers, press releases, exclusive interviews, and social media promotions. Strategic timing and targeting can create excitement that lures moviegoers into a delightful frenzy of curiosity to see the film.

Managing Publicity and Image

Maintaining a positive public image is crucial for film success. PR professionals work closely with actors, directors, and production companies to manage publicity and shape their public personas. They coordinate media appearances, interviews, and red carpet events to showcase the film and its talent in the best possible light. 

Additionally, they handle crisis communications, addressing any negative press or controversies that may arise, ensuring they do not overshadow the film's release. Effective management of publicity and image helps to establish trust and credibility among audiences, ultimately driving more people to the box office.

Leveraging Influencers and Reviewers

Influencers and film critics have a significant impact on the success of a film. PR professionals identify key influencers, such as popular bloggers, YouTubers, and social media personalities, who align with the film's target audience. They collaborate with these influencers to generate positive buzz through reviews, endorsements, and exclusive content. Similarly, PR professionals engage with film critics and reviewers, providing them with advance screenings and access to talent for interviews. Positive reviews from trusted sources can significantly influence the decision-making process of moviegoers and encourage them to choose a particular film over others.

Engaging with Fans

In the age of social media, engaging directly with fans has become an integral part of film PR strategies. Remember how Ryan Reynolds promoted Deadpool? Reynolds, known for his quick wit and humorous persona, took on the character of Deadpool not only on the big screen but also in his social media presence. Reynolds cleverly used his personal social media accounts to promote the film, sharing behind-the-scenes footage, humorous posts, and engaging with his followers in character as Deadpool. 

Through his witty and entertaining posts, Reynolds engaged with his large following and generated significant social media traction. His authentic portrayal of the character and his commitment to embodying Deadpool's personality resonated with fans and attracted attention from both existing and new audiences.

 PR professionals leverage social media platforms to build a community of passionate fans and keep them engaged throughout the film's release. They create interactive content, host Q&A sessions with the cast and crew, and encourage fan-generated content, fostering a sense of ownership and excitement among the fanbase. This engagement not only boosts the film's visibility but also cultivates a dedicated fan following that becomes brand ambassadors, spreading positive word-of-mouth and driving ticket sales.

International PR Campaigns

For films with global appeal, international PR campaigns are essential for success. PR professionals develop targeted strategies tailored to different markets, considering cultural nuances and preferences. This includes translating and localizing promotional materials, coordinating international press junkets, and engaging with foreign media outlets.

It’s always important to increase a film's visibility and appeal - and tailoring their approach to each region lets a PR team ensure that the film resonates with diverse audiences and maximizes box office potential.

Awards Season and Film Festivals

PR strategies play a significant role during awards season and film festivals. PR professionals work diligently to position films, actors, and directors as contenders for prestigious awards. They submit films to festivals, coordinate screenings, and strategically release promotional materials to generate critical acclaim and excitement. 

These activities not only increase the chances of nominations and awards but also drive attention from audiences who seek out award-winning films. Success during awards season can have a direct impact on box office revenue as it attracts more viewers and generates positive word-of-mouth.

Cross-Promotion and Brand Partnerships

PR professionals understand the value of cross-promotion and brand partnerships in the film industry. They seek opportunities to collaborate with relevant brands that align with the film's themes, target audience, or aesthetic. These partnerships can range from product placements within the film to co-branded marketing campaigns. To associate the film with well-known brands, PR professionals tap into existing fan bases and expand the film's reach to new audiences. This cross-promotion creates a symbiotic relationship, benefiting both the film and the partner brand.

Engaging with Film Critics and Industry Professionals

Film critics and industry professionals hold significant influence over the perception and success of a film. PR professionals build relationships with these key stakeholders, providing them with access to screenings, talent interviews, and behind-the-scenes content. PR professionals can influence the narrative surrounding a film and generate positive reviews by establishing rapport and open lines of communication.

Positive critical reception can attract industry recognition, increase awards consideration, and ultimately impact box office performance.

Contests, Giveaways, and Special Screenings

To generate excitement and drive audience engagement, PR professionals organize contests, giveaways, and special screenings. These activities create opportunities for fans to experience the film before its official release, fostering a sense of exclusivity and generating positive word-of-mouth. 

Contests and giveaways incentivize fans to participate, share their experiences on social media, and help amplify the film's reach. PR pros help a film linger in the minds of potential moviegoers by providing unique and memorable experiences.

Post-Release PR and Longevity

PR efforts shouldn’t end with a film's release. A PR team should continue to engage with audiences and the media to sustain momentum and extend the film's lifespan. This includes coordinating press junkets, interviews, and special screenings for home release and streaming platforms.

A PR team can keep a film relevant and generate ongoing coverage, which can contribute to the film's long-term success and revenue potential. Keeping the film relevant in the minds of fans makes sequels more likely as well.

Different Strokes for Different … Genres

A final thought: different types of movies can benefit from different types of PR. Speculative fiction - sci fi and fantasy - does well with mysterious trailers that generate more questions than they answer. That strategy may not be as effective for the next big rom-com, as these films typically follow a fairly predictable format that allows romance fans to anticipate their happily ever after.

Horror is different, too - most horror fans are sick and tired of the traditional tropes that plague the genre, and are often desperate to embrace anything new - on one side of the horror spectrum. On the other side, those same fans are more than willing to shell out for a ticket to a sequel in a beloved franchise. Translation: unknown horror flick? You’d better shock us! Ninety-seventh installment in the Hellraiser series? Absolutely. Take my money.

And They All Lived Profitably Ever After

PR definitely plays a vital role in the success of films at the box office. To enjoy a big opening weekend, a film needs to have a big audience already waiting and excited to see the film. There needs to be buzz - people talking about it. Even if they think a certain film is going to be awful, they’re still just curious enough to attend. This is the result of successful PR.

These strategies shape public perception and drive audience engagement, ultimately impacting ticket sales. Smart PR leverages influencers, reviewers, even actors to drive engagement with fans (and potential fans) across various platforms. This lets film studios up their chances at a box office smash. Good PR will cut through the noise to enthrall audiences and captivate attention so that opening day breaks records.

Imperium Group is an American public relations and marketing consultancy firm. Founded in 2016, it specializes in guaranteed placements, creating utmost transparency for its clients. Imperium Group generates over 15M impressions a month for its clients. Its team is based out of New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles. 

For more information about Imperium Group, please see


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