Marketing Failure: Who Heard of Delgo?

Delgo, as many people have heard by now, is the biggest flop in cinematic history. Costing over $40 million, the animated adventure film opened on 2,160 screens… and took in $511,920 over the weekend. Total. That comes out to a whopping $237 per theater, or, if you assume that most people went and saw this during the day for matinee prices, approximately 30 person per screen. Say there were four showings a day for three days… that is just over 2 people per showing.


A week later, Delgo is apparently nowhere to be seen in theaters around the country – and Freestyle Releasing, the movie’s independent distributor, has erased the film from its database. Look in their Film Library – it doesn’t exist – yet a search in Google from December 14th shows it prominently on the homepage. It is a forgotten film, other than the attention it’s suddenly receiving from its complete and utter failure.

The problem is, the movie received no attention before its release. “Build it and it will come” is not alive and well. Marketing is necessary for any film, especially one opening in wide release. I applaud Marc Adler for wanting to make a movie outside of the normal Hollywood trac, but when you spend $40 million on a film, some of that money has to go to marketing. Marketing, Mr. Adler. Marketing.

Apparently there was a viral campaign for the movie way back when, but when you start such a campaign seven years before the film is released – it’s going to lose steam long before the picture comes to theaters. Having crappy animation doesn’t help, especially in this day and age. The movie trailer is quite terrible, and it isn’t clear whether the movie is an action-comedy for teens or a fantasyland story built for kids. Downright bad movie reviews for Delgo don’t help either.

However, all of that doesn’t amount to such a terrible opening. The terrible opening is a result of pathetic – or nonexistent – marketing. Some people might fault me for saying this, because I do run a movie website and hence should know about all major movies coming to theaters, but before it was released, I had never heard of Delgo. At least I don’t think so. At the very least, I didn’t know it was releasing last Friday. Most movie studios reach out to me and try to get me to promote their films – via email, no less, something that is essentially free. I didn’t hear of Delgo until Monday morning, when I was driving to work and listening to The Adam Carolla Show, and Teressa Strasser was talking about an amazing flop that had just occured. What the heck.

This should be a learning lesson for Mr. Adler… unfortunately, he’s never going to be allowed to release a major movie like this again, and, sadly enough, he and his colleagues, whom I sure pumped their hearts and souls into this movie for almost ten years, have probably lost everything. Regardless of the quality of the film, Adler and everyone else involved were focused on the film… but there’s a business side to it as well that was completely ignored.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Box Office
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