174 | 27, pp. 173-191 | doxa.comunicación

July-December of 2018

Promotional websites in the film industry. The case of the Spanish cinema

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

1. Introduction

The Spanish film industry has been burdened for decades by the difficulties faced in developing and investing in the promotion of its productions. The budgets of contemporary Spanish films, widely nourished by the so-called low-cost cinema, are becoming increasingly smaller (Medina and Fernández, 2014), so many projects reach the end of their shooting and editing short on budget. Due to resource limitations, especially in low-cost cinema that manages budgets usually ranging between 2,000 and 100,000 euros –for instance, Diamond Flash (Vermut, 2011) and Carmina or Blow Up (León, 2012)– the use of the online world is crucial for creating digital identities of the films on the Internet without a lot of funds or even at no cost.

As Spanish films have tight budgets, the investment in promotional activities is often diminished and supplanted by very unambitious, poorly planned communicative strategies which, in many cases, are materialized by team members of the film who are not specialized in film promotion. Moreover, many Spanish productions do not consider it necessary to include a specific line item for promotion, but they apply the residual budget, i.e., what remains once the film is completed (Iglesias, 2013).

In the last few decades, the promotional strategies of the cinema were mainly focused on the acquisition of spaces in traditional media such as television, the press or radio. Today, although the proliferation of social media and the existence of all kinds of spaces on the network attractive for film promotion have reduced costs due to the extensive existing offers of spaces, these advantages have also led to a saturation of advertising content and a high segmentation of the target audience.

In this context, films are becoming hyper-fragmented in order to generate engaging experiences and contents which can be adapted to diverse digital and public spaces. The most glaring example may be observed in the films’ social media profiles (López, 2016) or on many official websites (Villén, 2016) whose ongoing drive to draw public attention is leading them to present the films in a more detailed and participatory way. The new communication strategies being pursued by the current productions are no longer only composed of a few trailers or posters but make use of an amalgam of content and experiences intended to attract the attention of their target audiences from multiple perspectives and to populate their online personal spaces, primarily their profiles on the social networks. The abundance of content also implies adequate strategic planning to avoid saturating the users and generating a story or experience that serves as an extension of the film.

This trend towards the hyper-fragmentation of the film text, largely driven by the Internet, further hinders the relationship between the Spanish cinema and promotional communication. Apart from the economic difficulties that the Spanish film industry has historically experienced, resulting in modest investments in promotion, now it must also be able to develop in the context of an updated generation of movie paratexts, more dynamic and interactive communicative spaces and transmedia strategies which have emerged as the Internet and its users have matured. Thus, this involves adapting the