What Encourages Your Decision in Choosing a Movie?

March 25, 2008
Source: Movie Marketing Madness

Hollywood Arclight Marquee

Chris Thilk over at Movie Marketing Madness has recently introduced a rather interesting topic of discussion. He asks the question "how do you decide what movies to watch?" and presents three small samples from his friends with their own reasons for five movies they recently watched. The question of "what encourages your decision in choosing a movie?" has been the quintessential one I've been trying to answer since starting FS.net. How do I encourage you to go out and see something? What other ways can I help studios build up their marketing?

One of the key points that Chris mentions in his conclusion is about our experiences and that marketing campaigns evolve around discussion platforms like this blog. We'll let him better explain:

"The recommendations we give to others are based on our experiences. But those experiences are still going to be driven to some extent by advertising and marketing campaigns. And considering those campaigns are the subject of a good amount of the online content being produced by actual end-user customers (like me) it's more important than ever that studios not just track the impressions registered by the campaign but also the discussion that's evolving around them. It's these discussions that form the basis for recommendations, so monitoring and involvement in the discussion is crucial to the success of the product being advertised."

He makes a great point regarding discussion like the comments left on some of our trailer posts and how they are actually a part of the user experience when watching a trailer, despite that users initial reaction alone (before they read the comments). That goes for every situation and every movie and every bit of marketing that gets out there. In a way, everything that ends up on this site is going through my own experience filter. If something bothers me (e.g. the trailer for Hancock), then my post is initially negative. In turn, if something excites me (e.g. the trailer for Speed Racer) the post is overly positive, thus establishing a base level of experience for every reader.

Before I get too far off topic, I want to go back to the original question: what encourages your decision? I'm curious to know whether it is the age-old belief that it's friends and family who encourage you the most or whether it actually is trailers or even interviews. Obviously the more trust there is between two "sources", whether it's a person or a website, the more emphasis that "source" has on the individual in the end. That's why friends work so well - you trust them with your life, so why not trust them when it comes to choosing how you will spend $10 and two hours? However, ask yourself this, would you even be at that point of consideration if you hadn't seen a trailer or photos previously?

Another question to ask yourself - would you ever go into a movie blindly without knowing anything more than a one-sentence vague plot description and the title? That's what I do every year at Sundance. I venture into some 30 odd movies without knowing what to expect in the slightest beyond maybe who's in it and the lamest plot description you could imagine. However, most moviegoers in this day and age who go to the movie theater usually have a very vast amount of knowledge surrounding a film. Or do they? As much as I like to believe that everyone who goes down to a theater knows who directed every movie or even what it's really about, most don't. I fear that most base their decisions on some very small amount of information - maybe even a 30 second TV spot.

Before I get too far, I want to open this up to discussion. I have a feeling that trailers will take the cake, but I'm not 100% certain. I'm curious to know whether interviews ever actually change your opinion or encourage anyone take a greater interest or whether other editorials have an impact either. Has anyone ever experienced a situation so extreme where they absolutely hated a movie but some last-minute "thing" changed their opinion entirely? I want to hear about how most people make their decision before I begin to really analyze what works best. Share your stories and thoughts!

Arclight marquee photo courtesy of jleighb on Flickr.

Find more posts: Discuss, Editorial, Opinions



The talent involved in a film usually determines whether or not I want to see it - director, writer, actors. Established IPs I love will also usually get me into the theater. Unless, as with the upcoming G.I. Joe, I'm certain it's going to be terrible.

John on Mar 25, 2008


Usually for me its the talent attached. One of the main reasons I was so looking forward to the film Sunshine was that it had the same director, writer and lead actor as 28 Days Later, a film which just plain rocked. Trailers are a big part of it. Not mindless action scenes, or the goofy one-liners of comedies, but if a trailer for a film from a story I'm not familiar with, makes me go "What the hell was THAT?" I'm usually sold.

jason_md2020 on Mar 25, 2008


I am usually sold on TWO things. One is the actors. Directors and writers play very little effect b/c most people can't even name a director or writer other than Speilberg, Burton, etc. Like #2 said, we don't look for action of one-liners but a compelling story of something original. Trailers I would say are the biggest part. I think why Horror movies do so good too are because they usually have the flashiest trailers and with their simple stories it is quite easy to give in a 30sec. TV spot. Sequels, remakes and stuff of popular films are exceptions usually but still. Trailers and actors. As I said, most people outside this site can't put a director or writer to a movie, but they can certainly do that with an actor.

Ryan on Mar 25, 2008


the more under the radar-the better as far as I am concerned. I had not heard a peep about The Bank Job until it opened. Took a two minute lookie at Metacritic and I was sold. It is easier to say what I won't see-if it has an actor I dispise no matter what-I cannot get past that. On and off screen antics count for this.

Jan Scholl on Mar 25, 2008


For me, I'm pretty open to the who's who and the who's that, alike. Obviously, you tend to stay away from ones that have seemed to build up a pretty bad reputation for themselves, but I would think for the most part that people stick closely to a particular genre of films in the same way that they do with their music. I have certian types of movies I almost always will see vs other that I will never go see. In my case I never see horrors. I've watched several good ones, but they just don't do anything for me. On the other hand I would go see a mystery or action with no question. Sometimes even if it may get an average or below average rating, I'll still see it myself to get my own perspective on the film. I know advertising helps sway peoples interest in a film but I personally think it has a lot to do with the individuals personal taste. I hope that wasn't too obvious of an answer.

kevin on Mar 26, 2008


Hmmm, see what I'm also asking is what breaks the mold BEYOND what you guys have all mentioned so far. Whether its actors/talent involve like the first few comments or whether it's specific genres like Kevin. Is there something that you've seen, whether it be a trailer, or read some review, or something, that has convinced you to really take an interest in a movie that wouldn't normally fall into the mold of actor(s) you like or genre(s) you like?

Alex Billington on Mar 26, 2008


let's see...for me, actors and genre play a big part like they do for everyone else. that aside, if it's a movie/film that has to do with something i'm a fan of, say something like batman, instantly sold. going to watch it no matter what, unless unforeseen circumstances arise(something like no one wants to see it with me*). next, trailers probably be the biggest seller for me if i've never heard of it. and here, if i recognize an actor, more the reason to watch it. trailers also gives me additional motives to see a movie i know about. if a movie has a reputation built up, i'll go see it to see what the hypes about. but sometimes, i skip it if it's something i'm totally not into. (i have still yet to see napoleon dynamite. i'll get to it some day...) then there's the new addition, movie blogs and discussion boards. some of you readers have probably been visiting FS.net for years now, but i've barely found it this year. and it's playing a pretty big part in my movie decision making. so thank you guys. the way movies are marketed in addition to their trailers doesn't really change how i feel about a movie. like the TDK virals, they're amazing and so much fun to follow along. but i would still be seeing the movie if they didn't have it. but here comes Sarah Marshall's viral, which i think sucks, but i still want to go see the movie. and that's cause i saw the trailer and liked it. *my friends also play a part in the final decision when we're standing in line to buy tickets. if not everyone agrees on watching a particular movie, we might skip out on it. and also, if the times doesn't fit our schedules, we might just choose another movie instead. i think i've said a lot and maybe too much, sorry, but i'm just giving what alex wanted.

craziemutant on Mar 26, 2008


Last five films I've seen and the reasons. 10,000 BC - Saw it last night because while I was queuing with my brother, some random guy offered us a free ticket - half the cost and I'm sold! Glad I didn't buy two tickets for this aimless turd of a film. Vantage Point - We came out of 10,000 BC, felt horrible, needed some fun celluloid relief and snuck, for free, into the next screen which happened to be showing this Dennis Quaid mixed-bag. Cracking first half, then trailed into all sorts of trouble. Bourne-rips abound from scoring to the handheld car chase. Essentially a longer episode of 24. Cloverfield - JJ Abrams. Monster mayhem. Minimal budget. Maximum virals. I'd been addicted to this from the first teased conversation with Matt Reeves. There will be Blood - Any Day-Lewis is worth watching and this was no exception. The actor was paramount. No Country for Old men - I'd read the book and loved the chosen cast and crew. It was a easy sell. The story and the directors were an equal pull.

Mrbobbyboy on Mar 26, 2008


Make the basics of the plot clear in the trailer. Keep out the cool explosions, nifty music, quick editing if it doesn't tell me what the movie's about. Also, PLEASE do not put the best jokes, surprises, or twists in the trailer.

Movie Lover on Mar 26, 2008


Outside of the actors and genres the dimension of the trailer is what really influences me. Like Movie Lover is saying, give me enough information that I understand what I'm seeing, but really it should be teasing me. The best trailer of all time for me I would probably have to say was the original trailer for "The Fountain". Everything in that trailer was perfect... the silence throughout with pockets of drum beats is great. Not your average trailer. Needless to say, I hated the movie... but I went to see it because of the trailer. That's just one example... if I think of others I will post them.

kevin on Mar 26, 2008


I agree with what everyone said above but lately I have had issues with going to see films. I found an post by someone about why they dont go anymore and it sums it up. "I was that guy who saw at least 1 of the new releases every Friday. Over the average weekend, I probably saw 2-3 films in theater. Now, you can't pay me to go to the movies. The experience of going to movies has been ruined completely by the majority of people who live in this country and go to films. The cell phone/texting problem in a movie is an epidemic. The non English speaking family of 10 who are just trying to do something nice for their family and take small children and babies to loud movies or R rates movies is also a problem. The kids who think they're on American Idol in the movie audience and they're there to entertain us all by standing out are the problem. I long for the days where people quietly made out with each other during a movie. Now, they break up with each other and hit one another during the movie. You're not going to fix this thing with higher priced tickets. Here is how you fix this thing. #1--Cell phone blockers w/in the theaters. When we didn't have cell phones, we all seemed to survive through a movie, so don't give me that emergency bullshit. #2--Bouncers in the theater. I'm not talking no neck steroid freaks. I'm talking someone who works at the theater in every showing from start to finish. A Hall Monitor. They can sit in back and ensure that people's movie going experience is going smoothly. If someone is getting out of hand, they hit a button and the reinforcements come in to deal with the problem. If they can't do a hall monitor in every theater, then you need buttons on every seat where patrons can alert the staff of this kind of thing, but that would have problems since most of these mongoloid idiots would have fun just hitting the button during the whole show. It's so simple and to be honest if you start cracking down on this shit and word gets out, people will come back to the theaters. The fear of losing the asshole who breaks these rules and ruins the experience for the other patrons not coming back, is an irrational fear. If someone gets in the face of most of these fucktards, they'll shut up. You want to save the movie going experience, Hollywood? Then toughen up and protect your good customers movie going experience."

Heckle on Mar 26, 2008


For me it is multiple factors. I usually look at those involved such as actors, producer, director and what there previous works have been like. I then look at the plot and if it piques my interest I will watch a trailer, read reviews, news, interviews and other various things about it. The biggest factor though, is the originality of the film. It's hard to find a film that you don't have to dig up with your shovel that hasn't been made 5 or more times already. These days I rarely see movies in theaters, instead I just wait for DVD release, simply because It's so dissapointing the choices they have now days especially with the price tag involved usually deters me even further and I am more often than not, left disatisfied. So I like to be prepared when I go to see a movie. I don't want to go to see some movie I've seen just a little TV spot for or just a poster. I hope this helps.

Anthony on Mar 27, 2008

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