On Sunday, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will try to prevent Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady from winning his seventh Super Bowl as the NFL season draws to a close. And if you are anything like me, you are casually interested in the game, but really perk up during the commercial breaks because of the potential for seeing footage from an anticipated Spring or Summer movie. Under normal circumstances, this year’s Super Bowl would be an ideal opportunity to roll our 30-second clips for Marvel’s Black Widow, Tom Cruise’s sequel Top Gun: Maverick, or F9, the latest from the Fast & Furious crew.
These are not normal circumstances, though, and this is not a normal Super Bowl. Variety reports that outside of a handful of streaming services (Netflix, possibly, or HBO Max), the Hollywood studios will be sitting out the Big Game and avoiding the big costs that come with advertising for that many eyeballs. It feels like the end of a marketing era, and I think that sucks.
Not that I necessarily blame the studios for avoiding the Super Bowl this year. The cost of an ad during the game has steadily climbed to astronomical levels. Sporting News reports that a 30-second advertisement on Sunday can run around $5.5 million per spot, down slightly from the $5.6 million it cost in 2020.
That year, though, there were movies that believed they were coming out, so Super Bowl movie trailers made sense. In 2020, we got to see commercials for Sonic the Hedgehog, Disney’s Mulan, A Quiet Place: Part II and the James Bond thriller No Time to Die. Two of those films still have yet to open, while one went right to streaming on Disney+.
In addition to the cost, the release dates of movies that WOULD advertise during the Super Bowl are fluid. Black Widow still might open on May 7, and it’s possible that F9 holds on to its May 28 date. But what is COVID numbers swell, causing the theater industry to pull back once again. Is it worth the risk to gamble $5.5 million on an ad when there isn’t any certainty?
That’s the logical reason why the Super Bowl will be lacking movie ads. Emotionally, it just feels like there’s going to be a noticeable, gaping hole on that day that used to be filled with anticipation. For movie fans -- especially for fans of blockbusters -- Super Bowl Sunday was a little bit like Christmas morning, only the gifts we unwrapped had A-list talents and pricey VFX. Even if HBO Max cuts together a sizzle reel for its upcoming slate (including Justice League, or Godzilla vs. Kong), or M. Night Shyamalan’s Old shows off its first look, it won’t be the same.
It might never be the same again.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.