The Super Bowl is consistently one of the biggest TV events of the year, and advertising during the big game has always been an expensive commodity. 2016's game, however, reached a whole new level of importance, as 114.4 million people watched. This brought the average price of a 30-second ad spot to a record-breaking $5 million. With that amount of money going around, it's understandable that Hollywood is keen to see who spent their money the most wisely in terms of getting NFL viewers excited for upcoming blockbusters.
Now, we know how the reactions broke down. By measuring social-media response and polling data, Yahoo and PR agency Way To Blue have determined that Marvel's Captain America: Civil War was the (other) big winner at Sunday's game.
The result isn't entirely surprising. With superhero rival Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice sitting out the big game in terms of a "new" spot and Star Wars not having anything new to advertise until a trailer is ready for Rogue One, Marvel's superhero battle-royal was easily the most prominent blockbuster franchise getting a push during the Super Bowl itself. Fans had been primed for the new spot (which urges them to "choose a side") all week, angling to get a clearer look at the makeup of Captain America and Iron Man's respective teams -- though it's a possibility fan interest was also fueled by rumors that they'd get their first look at Tom Holland as the new Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man.
Plus, the studio all but guaranteed a first-place finish with social-media users by launching an aggressive new Twitter campaign built around asking fans to declare their allegiance via hashtag to #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan, along with a crop of new superhero-themed emojis that could be used to enter a sweepstakes for a walk-on role in Avengers: Infinity War. The film may also have benefited from two of Captain America's fellow Avengers participating in a Coca-Cola commercial.
That said, the Star-Spangled Avenger wasn't the only big winner of the Super Bowl buzz-wars. Surprising many, Disney's live-action remake of The Jungle Book (which had not been heavily promoted up to this point) came second only to Civil War on social media. In a poll of audiences regarding whether they're intent to actually see the film had increased because of the ad it actually overtook Captain America for the top spot. While the film boasts the expected roster of famous voices giving life to its cast of talking CGI animals, the film was thought by some to be a risk for Disney since it lacks a recognizable human star in the cast, whereas prior hits like Maleficent and Cinderella had been hyped heavily on Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett appearing in lead roles.
With some fans already referring to Captain America: Civil War as an unofficial Avengers movie due to the number of other characters making appearances, there's a growing sense the film could end up as an early contender for one of the biggest releases of 2016 -- with some predicting that it could outperform its predecessor, The Winter Soldier. One potential roadblock to that, though, is the film's arrival only two months after the similarly hero-vs-hero themed Batman V Superman hits. Will audiences be burned out on this particular variation of the superhero narrative after seeing arguably the two most popular characters in the genre duke it out? Marvel is, presumably, hoping they are not.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.