It is getting down to that time of year again. The NFL season is almost over, which means the Super Bowl is right around the corner. Despite a complicated and messy year, the NFL managed to get through all 16 regular-season games, and the playoffs, arriving at the big game, which will take place on February 7. That usually means lots of ads for Hollywood’s biggest movies and TV shows, though that may change this year given the uncertain state of the industry. And, rather amazingly, only four of the movies advertised during last year’s Super Bowl have been released, with many others still waiting in the wings.
The cost of a 30-second ad slot during Super Bowl LIV, which saw the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the San Francisco 49ers, was said to run about $5.6 million. Many movies were advertised during the game, with studios hoping to parlay that ad money into box office dollars. And yet, only The Invisible Man, Disney’s live-action Mulan, Sonic the Hedgehog and The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run have been released, just shy of a year later. And Spongebob is even kind of a technicality, as the movie debuted on Netflix internationally and in theaters in Canada. It will get a streaming release on CBS All Access, soon to be Paramount+, later this year in the U.S. Bill & Ted Face the Music had a Super Bowl presence with a Walmart commercial and social teaser but no official footage or TV spot was released during the game.
Other massive blockbusters such as No Time to Die, Top Gun: Maverick, Marvel’s Black Widow, F9, aka Fast & Furious 9, Minions: The Rise of Gru and A Quiet Place Part II were all advertised during the Super Bowl in 2020. All of them have since been delayed multiple times by their respective studios. In the month following the Super Bowl last year, the world fell apart. Health and safety concerns took precedent worldwide, with movie theaters shutting their doors for months as a result. Even now, the industry is largely struggling to get back on its feet, with the box office more or less on life support.
In essence, this means the millions of dollars that were spent on those ads went to waste. Ads like that are only good so long as they impact the public consciousness come release time. With many of these movies not coming out until much later in 2021, those Super Bowl commercials are nothing but a distant memory to the average moviegoer.
No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie, was set to arrive in April but has now been delayed until October 8 of this year. Top Gun: Maverick is positioned as a summer blockbuster, with the Tom Cruise sequel eyeing a July 2 release. Minions: The Rise of Gru is set for that same date. But those are on potentially shakey ground with all of the recent release date moves. Black Widow, the long-awaited solo movie for Scarlett Johansson’s Marvel hero, ultimately was delayed a full year, currently set for May 7. Again, that date seems far from certain right now. The same can be said for F9, which is also set for May, arriving on the 21. A Quiet Place Part II was recently pushed back again as well from April to September 17.
Whether or not studios opt to take the risk at this year’s Super Bowl remains to be seen. It seems like a huge gamble, though one that could pay off for major upcoming streaming releases, such as Godzilla vs. Kong or Mortal Kombat. Netflix could also make use of the game to get eyeballs on its upcoming slate. Or maybe, just maybe, we see some commercials for the same movies two years in a row. Super Bowl LV is set to air February 7 on CBS.