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Not Even ‘Star Wars’ Can Save This Year’s Box Office



LOS ANGELES — Cue the sad trombone: Movie ticket sales in the United States and Canada will total roughly $11.45 billion for the year, a 4 percent decrease from 2018.

That preliminary estimate, released by Comscore on Sunday, took into account the $175.5 million collected by “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (Disney) over the weekend. “Rise of Skywalker” got off to a soft start compared to “The Last Jedi,” which took in $220 million over its first few days in domestic theaters in 2017.

Hollywood’s 2019 lineup included one behemoth fantasy after another, including “Frozen II” (Disney), “The Lion King” (Disney), “Toy Story 4” (Disney), “Aladdin” (Disney), “Captain Marvel” (Disney) and “Avengers: Endgame” (Disney), which broke attendance records.

But moviegoers also rejected an astounding amount of what Hollywood served up.

Tom Hooper’s critically reviled “Cats” collapsed over the weekend, collecting $6.5 million at North American theaters after costing roughly $100 million to make, not including marketing expenses. At Hooper’s request, Universal sent theaters a version of “Cats” with slight special effects improvements over the weekend. Ticket buyers gave “Cats” a C-plus grade in CinemaScore exit polls.

Misfires from earlier in the year included “Dark Phoenix,” the latest in the threadbare “X-Men” series; Ang Lee’s ill-advised “Gemini Man,” starring Will Smith; “UglyDolls,” an animated clunker based on a toy line; and a pop-feminist reboot of “Charlie’s Angels,” with Kristen Stewart.

Nine movies from Warner Bros. stumbled out of the gate, including “The Goldfinch,” “The Kitchen,” “Shaft,” “Motherless Brooklyn” and “Richard Jewell,” which gave Clint Eastwood his worst opening weekend as a filmmaker in four decades.

“It’s hard to know if this is a secular, permanent phenomenon related to audience viewing habits or movie title-specific,” said David Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a film consultancy.

The movie business is cyclical, and ending the year a few hundred million dollars behind 2018 is hardly a catastrophe — not when theaters are competing with a fast-growing array of streaming services. One of the most discussed films of the year, Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” largely bypassed theaters, playing instead on Netflix. “The Irishman” and two other Netflix films, “Marriage Story” and “The Two Popes” were showered with Golden Globe nominations. Those three films are also seen as major Oscar contenders.

Just four percent down? At a time when the “Star Wars” franchise expanded into live-action television for the first time with “The Mandalorian” on Disney Plus?

“Hallelujah,” you can almost hear film executives saying.

Joe Drake, the chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said the competition for intellectual property and talent “is more heated than ever, but we doubled our box office this year and increased our market share.”

Lionsgate found success by deploying Keanu Reeves in “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” Gerard Butler in “Angel Has Fallen,” Tyler Perry in “A Madea Family Funeral” and a bevy of stars in “Knives Out.” (Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron couldn’t save the Lionsgate comedy “Long Shot” from living up to its title, however.)

To compete in theaters, non-franchise films have to be definitive — what Drake called “great stories well told that announce themselves.” “Knives Out,” starring Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas, did not bring anything particularly new — it’s an old-fashioned whodunit — but it was a perfectly executed example of the genre.

“We genuinely believe that there is a false narrative about midrange movies,” Drake said. “They are not going extinct.”

But if a movie has flaws, there is no longer a floor. No amount of marketing hocus-pocus could convince people that “The Sun Is Also a Star,” a middling romantic comedy starring Yara Shahidi (“grown-ish”), was worth the hassle and expense of trekking to a theater.

Every studio ended the year with a few hits, including Warner, which struck a cultural nerve with “Joker” ($1.1 billion worldwide). Jennifer Lopez and her savvy stripper friends (“Hustlers,” $157 million) propped up STX. “Rocketman” ($195 million) helped Paramount return to annual profitability for the first time in memory. Jordan Peele’s cerebral horror film “Us” ($255 million), Danny Boyle’s Beatles-oriented “Yesterday” ($151 million) and the “Fast and Furious” spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw” ($759 million) kept Universal competitive.

When all ticket sales are counted, Sony Pictures is expected to be the only studio — aside from Disney — to land two movies in the top 10. “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” riding on “Avengers” coattails, collected $391 million in North America and $1.13 billion worldwide. “Jumanji: The Next Level,” released on Dec. 13, is performing like “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which earned $404 million at domestic theaters in 2017. Sony also struck gold with Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” ($372 million worldwide).

“This year was dominated by major franchises, but we’ve also seen the hunger for original content,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for, citing Tarantino’s comedic drama as an example.

Even so, calling the film business healthy would be a stretch.

The box office is increasingly divided into haves — franchises, mostly aging ones — and have-nots (everything else). Studios churned out a whopping 58 franchise films this year, which consumed 82 percent of the worldwide Hollywood box office, according to Gross’s film consultancy. Eighty-one non-franchise films got the scraps.

Some franchises declined sharply. “The Secret Life of Pets 2” was down 51 percent from its series predecessor. “Terminator: Dark Fate” fell 41 percent.

“Story lines need to move forward, and worlds need to expand,” Gross said. “New characters and conflicts need to emerge.”

Because moviemaking relies on personal judgment calls, studios try to reduce risk by adhering to rules of thumb. But few choices seem safe anymore.

Original animation used to be a relatively sure bet. This year, mythical creatures (“Missing Link”), an amusement park run by talking animals (“Wonder Park”) and a fox named Swifty (“Arctic Dogs”) got the cold shoulder.

Stephen King sequels are hot (“It: Chapter 2”). Until they’re not (“Doctor Sleep”).

“The market is still very dynamic, but what works is more unpredictable,” said Stephen Gilula, the co-chairman of Fox Searchlight. “The costs have gone up, and the success rate has gone down.”

Searchlight, the Disney-owned art film studio, scored with the summertime horror flick “Ready or Not” ($29 million). Taika Waititi’s “JoJo Rabbit,” a Nazi satire, has earned $20 million and could generate another $5 million to $10 million based on its awards fate. But Searchlight had a very quiet year over all. “Lucy in the Sky” ($320,000), starring Natalie Portman, was an outright flop. Frequent contributors like Wes Anderson were between films.

Between January and Aug. 25, combined ticket sales for the 20 largest art film distributors — Fox Searchlight, Magnolia and the like — fell 45 percent from the same period last year, according to Box Office Mojo data.

A handful of art house offerings ultimately managed to get noticed, including Lulu Wong’s China-set family drama “The Farewell” ($18 million), the elevated A24 horror film “Midsommar” ($27 million), the quirky Huck Finn-style tale “The Peanut Butter Falcon” ($21 million) and Bong Joon Ho’s genre-defying “Parasite” ($21 million).

For the third year running, Focus Features topped the specialty box office. The Universal Pictures subsidiary saw films like “Downton Abbey” ($97 million) and “Harriet” ($42 million) over-perform in ways that seemed to startle even the studio.

“We always thought there would be an excited core audience for ‘Harriet,’ those who have a natural interest in an American icon who shockingly had never had her life story told onscreen,” said Peter Kujawski, the chairman of Focus Features. “But it crossed well past that core audience and broke into the broader culture.”

“Harriet,” directed by Kasi Lemmons, may also figure into the coming Oscar race. Cynthia Erivo, who stars in the film as Harriet Tubman, is a favorite for a best actress nomination.

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6 essential marketing trends for 2020 | Smart Insights



Examples of digital marketing tools and techniques to give you an edge in the year ahead

Well, we’ve nearly made it! For years I’ve been looking to the future, predicting how innovations in digital media, platforms and technology will shape marketing in 2020. The cutting edge examples certainly show the exciting opportunities available – there is almost too much choice…

In this article, I’ll explore six key marketing trends based on examples and research on the adoption of the latest marketing techniques and technology marketers can use.

For recommendations on tapping into the innovations in different digital marketing channels, including email, social media and search engine marketing, see all the other posts from the Smart Insights team covering channel-specific digital marketing trends for 2020.

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In 2020, we can see the huge impact that digital marketing has had over the last decade, and more. Looking at advertising alone, these eMarketer predictions show how the duopoly of Facebook and Google dominate paid media investments online, although offline media buys remain important for many larger brands.alfred

Trend 1. Lifecycle marketing

Although it’s often said that the ‘funnel is dead’ since consumer follows non-linear journeys, regardless of the product or service you’re involved with marketing, it will always be the case that to grow a business, your primary focus is growing awareness, closely followed by increasing customer leads and prospects.

This focus is shown by the latest Altimeter / Prophet State of Digital Marketing report, which shows a primary focus on increasing awareness.

The role of digital in creating a unified customer experience is also high in the response, but it’s shocking that digital marketing isn’t seen as a driver of boosting revenue from existing customers. It’s an artefact of the question since digital marketing is effective in achieving all of these goals, including customer retention.

A more practical way to plan to integrate online marketing into marketing activities is to consider communications from a customer point-of-view through the customer journey. I call this always-on lifecycle marketing and recommend you review your use of online AND offline media across the customer lifecycle.

An example of an audit is shown by this example of the use of marketing activities by a B2B company, which although strong at the top-of-funnel in terms of activities used, is less strong in the middle and bottom-of-funnel nurture and re-targeting activities. Many businesses are adopting marketing automation and account-based marketing technology to implement these touchpoints. See the article linked to above for all of the potential activities that can be audited.

Trend 2. Conversational marketing

For me, this is the most exciting trend in marketing today, bringing together rapid consumer adoption of smart speakers and innovation in search query processing, conversational interfaces and messaging.

Conversational marketing was highlighted as a key innovation in the latest Gartner hype cycle alongside Artificial Intelligence, which often fuels it.  You can see that of the technologies on the Innovation Trigger slope, many aren’t expected to become mainstream for 5 to 10 years. Of those forecast to hit the mainstream within the next 2 to 5 years, the three most significant for marketers to consider are personification, real-time and conversational marketing.

Gartner explains:

Conversational marketing technologies enable interactions between companies and customers that mimic human dialogue and do so at scale. This category is near the Peak of Inflated Expectations phase”.

Personally, I think the hype about smart speakers to support the purchase journey is just that. While some products lend themselves to purchase, where a choice is to be made amongst complex products, they just won’t cut it until we have truly intelligent comparison bots. However, the research suggests I may be wrong. A study of 2,000 British adults commissioned by Artefact UK, an AI and data-driven agency, reveals that:

“Six out of ten smart speaker owners (60%) have used them to make a purchase in the past year. In fact, nearly a quarter (22%) said they have done so within the past week”.

I believe that building in more relevant to web, email and mobile-based conversations can have a bigger impact by boosting relevance and speaking in a more personal tone. Persado is an interesting tech here.

Persado uses a copy impact classification applied to existing copy, which is used to tailor copy and calls-to-action on an individual basis.

For example, using Persado Natural Language Generation to run an experiment, Air Canada sparked a higher response using Anxiety language getting a 3% engagement lift, compared to a 5% drop using Exclusivity language, and a 3% drop using Safety language.

Another example of  AI application is nutrition and wellness retailer Holland & Barrett using AI to provide better-targeted emails. This Machine Learning approach from Tinyclues goes beyond optimizing copy using a tool like Persado, instead, it also involves targeting based on the behaviour of individuals to create more micro-targeted campaigns.

Speaking at a session I chaired at the Email Innovation Summit, Richard Lallo, Head of Digital Marketing, described what he calls ‘strategic promotions and mono-product pushes’ in a campaign. The business was able to drive campaign revenue and increase re-purchase rate while sending emails. Campaign revenue increased by 27%, open rates increased by 19%, while email send volume decreased by 23%, which also gives cost savings.

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Trend 3. Insights-driven marketing

At Smart Insights we’re huge fans of using analytics and insight to drive business performance and optimize the results from digital marketing. It’s why we’re called what we are.

Improving their data-driven marketing is an aim of many businesses indicated by the most desired skill amongst digital marketers revealed by the Altimeter/Prophet State of Digital Marketing report.

Data-driven marketing

Businesses using this approach are trying to gain the benefits reported by Mckinsey research that suggested that:

Intensive users of customer analytics are 23 times more likely to clearly outperform their competitors in terms of new customer acquisition than non-intensive users, and nine times more likely to surpass them in customer loyalty.

In addition to advances in customer analytics supported by CDPs described in the next section, new Voice of the Customer (VoC) techniques, such as online-hosted customer communities, can improve customer preferences for future products and how they are delivered.

For example, Red Bull used insight platform Vision Critical to launch a community of consumers passionate about the energy drink category. By providing a deeper understanding of consumer preferences, the community challenges widely-held assumptions. The company, for instance, learned who consumes Red Bull drinks — and how and when they buy — were changing. Data from the community provides insight on the competitive landscape, revealing channels the company can enhance to improve growth. The community also helps Red Bull deliver more value to retailers.

Trend 4. Marketing technology

Today, Marketing Technology (Martech for short) presents a bewildering choice of software services for businesses looking to improve their management of digital media, experiences and supporting data. If your business and your agencies adopt the right blend of Martech, it can help give you an edge against competitors, but if not, you may be missing out on the insights and automation processes they are using.

The latest 2019 Martech supergraphic from Scott Brinker, a specialist who hosts Martech conferences and has advised on technology for HubSpot, has created this somewhat scary map of all the potential categories and services that companies can use.

To highlight the range of great services available and to simplify the options a little, we designed this essential digital marketing tools infographic to recommend the categories of tools you should consider across the Smart Insights RACE Planning system and highlight the most popular, most capable tools.

We will create the annual update for this in early 2020, discussing it recently on LinkedIn has highlighted some of the latest trends that aren’t evident from this version of the wheel. Raviv Turner, Co-Founder, of B2B service @CaliberMind said:

“No MarTech stack is complete these days without the third leg of CRM, MAP & CDP. The only way to map, store, analyze and act on the complete end-to-end customer journey is having all the data in one place using a Customer Data Platform (CDPs).”

I’m not sure ‘the only-way’ is accurate, but that is the sentiment.

Kristen Obaid, Always On digital marketing campaigns manager for an international Education company, added:

“The Salesforce and Adobe MAPs are underrepresented here (eg Pardot can be used for email, social, CRM, CMS, audience management, analytics. Krux is now SF. They can both be used as DMPs if the data is configured properly.) BI with simple data integrations (like Domo, Tableau) are also missing, plus Intercom for service CMS eg FAQs, and Drift for automated service chat”.

Trend 5. Consumer Privacy and KYC

Repeated privacy faux-pas by Facebook, Google and security breaches at other brands leading to the release of customer details have highlighted to consumers that their data isn’t as safe with online brands as they may have once thought. Privacy regulations like GDPR have been enacted to improve data privacy with increased fines.

Record fines have arisen in 2019 from the maximum penalty for contraventions increasing under GDPR to up to €20m (£17.5m) or four percent of global turnover – whichever is the greater.

British Airways, was issued with a proposed fine of £183m for a breach of customer data and a £99 million fine on hotel chain Marriott for failing to protect personal data contained in approximately 339 million guest records.

While these may be more the concerns of the CIO or CFO rather than the CMO, it shows the need for marketers to work with colleagues to mitigate the potential impact of security breaches and reassure customers.

At the same time, we have seen a decreasing effectiveness of traditional identification methods such as cookies for tracking, which makes media ROI determination – supposedly one of the key benefits of digital channels – more difficult.

Emerging technologies can potentially help with both of these challenges.

New Identify Management or Know Your Customer solutions are being developed that can both improve security, reduce fraud and improve insight about customers across multiple devices.

For example, UK startup Hooyu blends traditional methods of customer verification such as database checks (where available) with ID document validation, digital footprint analysis, geo-location and facial biometrics. While this is most relevant for banks and other gambling applications, it indicates the range of data points that are now available.

With these consumer concerns and new legislation such as the EU ePrivacy legislation about to be launched and the inaccuracy of tracking online with increasing restrictions built into browser like Chrome and Safari it seems like the days of the cookie (and particularly third-party cookies) and digital fingerprinting may be numbered. This means that businesses should be considering other alternatives if they aren’t already.

Discussing Unified ID – Why Identity becomes a key success factor in the post-cookie era era – Alwin Viereck, Head of Programmatic Advertising and Ad Management, United Internet Media estimates that

More than 20% of all cookies in a desktop environment do not live longer than a day and a further 15–20% do not survive a month. For vendors in a third party context (which are typically all participants of the programmatic ecosystem), the problem might even be worse.

Multiplatform consent solutions like Sourcepoint and Identity and Access Management integration solutions like Auth0 and OneIdentity will be adopted more widely. Within AdTech new solutions will have to be found in response to Google and Apples Ad-targeting limitations.

Trend 6. Digital transformation and Marketing Transformation

Our managing digital marketing research revealed many challenges in terms of how digital marketing is run in companies today. Problems included a lack of focus on integrated strategy, testing, and optimization and structural issues like teams working in silos or a lack of skills in integrated communications.

To counter these types of problems and to make the most of the opportunities for growing a business through digital marketing, many businesses are now putting a digital transformation programme in place.

Digital Transformation research

The aim of digital transformation is to develop a roadmap to improve digital capabilities and skills, while at the same time, integrating ‘always-on’ digital marketing activities with brand and product marketing in the business.

This chart from the research shows that many businesses are active in transformation to try to achieve this aim through the success factors covered in this briefing.

Despite some talk that we might be in a post-digital world by 2020 and some traditional marketers suggesting that “it’s time to shut down digital marketing for good” the reality is that many specialist digital job roles and are needed to run digital marketing activities as my post ‘10 reasons you still need a digital team‘ shows.

A common practice that we can expect to continue in the future is a move to a hybrid approach to managing digital marketing with digital marketing skills being developed in marketing teams as suggested by this structure.

Digital marketing governance modelHowever, the label of a ‘digital department’ is outmoded, since the creation of large digital teams has caused silos to develop with other marketing and product teams. Instead, we can expect a continued move to a digital/marketing Centre of Excellence model. The DCoE will be smaller ‘digital services units’ that track the latest developments in development, advising on new digital techniques and technologies.

Through the year, we’ve been adding to our tools to help all members assess how well their businesses are adapting to using digital media and technology as part of Digital Transformation. To review your digital readiness, either for integrated digital marketing or individual channels, download our benchmarks or take our interactive capability graders.

All the best for grasping the opportunities from digital marketing in 2020 and beyond! To help you on your way take a look at our benchmarking templates, each of which will give you a quick review for digital marketing governance and the key channels like search, social, email marketing plus analytics, content marketing and experience.

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Truth Take a look at: No, Biden Did No longer Have a Maskless Birthday Birthday celebration



A tweet wishing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. satisfied birthday ultimate week generated false rumors that Mr. Biden marked his 78th birthday on Friday with a maskless celebration.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta tweeted a video of herself celebrating with Mr. Biden as a crowd sang satisfied birthday. She later famous that the video used to be shot in 2019, on Mr. Biden’s 77th birthday, on the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta after that evening’s Democratic debate.

Mr. Biden is dressed in the similar purple tie within the video as he did within the debate. A video of the similar tournament taken from a unique attitude presentations tv displays with the phrases “Debate Viewing Birthday celebration” putting at the partitions.

Mr. Biden has persistently worn mask all through the pandemic, and has been mocked through President Trump for doing so.

With the exception of the incorrect claims that the video used to be shot this 12 months, some on-line commentators used the video to criticize the limitations on American citizens’ Thanksgiving plans which have been recommended through public well being officers, together with the ones on the Facilities for Illness Keep an eye on and Prevention. (Regardless that the video presentations a big, prepandemic amassing, it has not anything to do with Thanksgiving in particular.)

The claims apply a number of correct experiences about different Democratic politicians flouting social distancing pointers. Footage have emerged appearing a maskless Gov. Gavin Newsom of California attending a dinner at a dear eating place in Napa Valley and the state’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, wandering the corridors of Congress with out a masks. In New York, native Democratic leaders mingled not too long ago at a party in Brooklyn, infrequently dressed in mask.

Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have been in Wilmington, Del., on Friday, assembly with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority chief. They sat a number of ft aside, dressed in mask, and Ms. Pelosi gave Mr. Biden a white orchid for his birthday.

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Meet The Best 2020 Presidential Election Incorrect information ‘Superspreaders’



Two Trumps and a collection of right-wing commentators had been the highest so-called superspreaders of election incorrect information, in keeping with analysis through Avaaz, a world human rights crew.

In descending order, the 5 incorporated the right-wing commentators Dan Bongino, Mark Levin, Diamond and Silk, and David J. Harris Jr., in addition to one of the crucial president’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. President Trump crowned the listing, in keeping with the analysis.

They have been a part of a bigger set of 25 superspreaders who, in combination, accounted for 28.6 % of the interactions that individuals had with voter fraud incorrect information, in keeping with the Avaaz research.

Since Election Day, there were over 77.1 million likes, feedback and stocks on Fb from the highest 25 superspreaders of voter fraud incorrect information. The highest 5 on my own are accountable for 49.2 million of the ones interactions, or 63 % of the full interactions on those pages that experience again and again driven voter fraud incorrect information claims.

“The superspreaders on this listing, with the serving to hand of Fb’s set of rules, have been simply central to making this flood of falsehoods this is now defining the political debate for thousands and thousands around the nation, and may proceed to take action for future years,” mentioned Fadi Quran, a director at Avaaz.

A spokesman for Fb mentioned the corporate used to be taking “each and every alternative” to label posts that misrepresented the vote casting procedure and to direct folks to a vote casting data middle.

Voter fraud claims come with false stories that malfunctioning vote casting machines deliberately miscounted mail-in votes and different irregularities in some way affected the vote. All of the ones claims have been investigated through election officers and reporters who discovered no proof of well-liked voter fraud.

President Trump and his supporters have used the ones claims to take a look at to forged doubt on the result of the vote, and to document proceedings in key swing states the place they’re disputing the result of the Nov 3. election. The proceedings had been in large part pushed aside.

Regardless of the loss of proof introduced in court docket, or on-line, the voter fraud claims have accumulated steam. On Monday morning, President Trump shared the false declare on his Fb web page that during positive states, there have been extra votes than individuals who voted. The submit used to be shared over 15,000 instances and preferred over 300,000 instances inside of a number of hours.

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