Still no marketing numbers

For the second year in a row the MPAA has left average production and marketing cost numbers out (Los Angeles Times, 3/10/10) of its annual state of the industry report. The trade group once again falls back on the “getting those numbers would be hard” rationale, which you’d think wouldn’t hold up under any sort of scrutiny.

There’s good reason for making those numbers available, even if they are just averages. Despite a spokesperson’s instances, those numbers *do* mean something. When you put them up against that year’s box-office numbers you’re able to get an idea of return-on-investment, which may be the very thing the organization is trying to avoid people getting a glimpse of. After all, if box-office takes went up 7.6 percent – which is just what they did in 2009 compared to 2008 – but production and marketing costs went up 15 percent it doesn’t look all that great.

Now that may be an exaggeration since from 2007 to 2008, when marketing and production costs were last reported, the rise was only 6.3 percent. But considering Hollywood’s fascination lately with event movies that cost a bundle to produce and which are then supported with carpet-bombing ad campaigns I’m going to guess the it’s gone up significantly. Especially with the increased costs associated with everyone’s newest friend, 3D.

Eventually you’d think the MPAA is going to have to reinstate those numbers. But I’m not going to hold my breath. Instead I’ll just be disappointed they’ve chosen to not provide the industry with a recap of its health that’s a bit more inclusive.