Welcome to the latest edition of 24 Frames. Sahara Shrestha and Andrew Jamieson will be guiding you through the exciting, confusing and often brilliant world of 'film'. Expect news, trailers and plenty of opinion.

The latest edition is brought to you by Andrew Jamieson, who can be found on twitter over at @theghostwriterc.



24 Frames: Managing audience expectations in a multimedia world

I will preface this piece by admitting that I am a geek, I spend time in comic book stores, buy figurines and get butterflies whenever I see a new comic book property or learn about a new project that is centered around one of these characters. I have been watching with baited breath as new information has begun to circulate from the panels at this year's Comic-Con.

The biggest announcement from this year's festival was the fact that Zack Snyder (pictured above with Henry Cavill) will bring the first big screen union of Superman and Batman together. While this announcement is exciting, it also made me wonder about the ways in which major studios tend to manage the marketing of these big budget movies.

I have nothing against Comic-Con, but it raises wider questions about how audiences are prepared for an upcoming movie. Instead of audience excitement being built up via one or two trailers and TV spots like it was in the mid-nineties, studios now use these fan-based festivals to start their marketing campaigns. The most successful picture of that period was James Cameron's Titanic (1997) - a critical/box office smash hit that managed to transcend the negative press it received in many movie trade magazines at the time.

I believe that the marketing budget for Titanic was somewhere in the region of twenty five million dollars, and the film went on to make over a billion dollars at the box office (including its eventual 3D conversion in later years). Now, if we compare this with the marketing budget for Warner's Man of Steel, which came in at around one hundred and sixty million dollars, we can see a massive change within the financial marketing strategy that studios have now opted for.

How is this linked to presentation panels like at this years Comic-Con? Because of the fact that the studios now feel the need to begin this expensive strategy before a film has even gone into production; as movie studios use the more varied means at their disposal to promote a film. I believe that this helps to create the hyperbolic responses we now see from critics and audiences alike to movies that deserve a more nuanced response to their flaws and successes.

Take the responses to Man of Steel itself - reviewers either tended to think it was the best movie of the year, or the worst. There seemed to be no middle ground, Why? Because expectation is built up by critics and audiences alike; from the initial panel presentations to the production of the movie to the trailers. I believe it is a natural subconscious response to this strategy to feel either let down or deliriously happy about what is by nature a subjective art form.

Man of Steel and Pacific Rim (both of whom had Comic-Con panels) have certainly performed well at the US domestic box office, but some way under their initial projections. This is less true of Man of Steel, which has performed well above the box office of Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed Batman Begins (2005). It is also true that Disney followed this template with their Avengers movie and of course the film was an overriding success. I just think that while all cinema goers love the build up to these movies, I also think this marketing strategy has helped to create a hyperbolic sensibility in the industry that is to its detriment.

So while I love being a fan, I don't want my cinematic experience to be ruined by expectations that were never to be fulfilled. So enjoy Comic-Con, but let's all keep our feet on the ground so our experience, like Superman, can soar into the skies.