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Movie Marketing Madness: The Little Prince

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Having a plan can be a good thing. It gives you something to strive for, goals to work toward. You can’t drive or get anywhere, especially somewhere you’ve never been, without a map to help you get directions for doing so. You can’t advance in your career without an idea of what will be necessary to get to your desired position. You can’t build an IKEA cupboard without the…actually, there’s no way ever to build an IKEA cupboard. It can’t be done. But you get the idea: Plans are good.

In the new movie The Little Prince the idea of planning for the future is taken a bit far. Mackenzie Foy voices The Little Girl, whose life has been meticulously and completely planned out by her mother (Rachel McAdams). But the girl isn’t thrilled with this, even if she’s resigned to it. One day, though, The Little Girl encounters The Aviator (Jeff Bridges), who lives next to her and begins to tell her about the fantastic world of The Little Prince (Riley Osborne) where anything is possible. The Aviator’s stories open The Little Girl’s eyes and mind to the wonders of the world and the power of imagination, where the possibilities are endless and where there’s certainly more than the grey, uninspired adult life The Mother has prepared her for.

The Posters

There was just one poster for the movie but it sells the sense of wonder in the story pretty well. The Little Prince is shown sitting next to the fox as they gaze out toward the stars. At the bottom of the poster we’re asked to “Discover the beloved story” and then below the title treatment there’s more copy saying “Growing up isn’t the problem. Forgetting is.” That nicely sells the story of the movie and the sense of wonder it’s all about.

The Trailers

We immediately get the situation The Little Girl is in as the first trailer opens. The Mother has her whole life planned out for her, including seemingly every decision she’s ever going to make. But then a paper airplane comes through her window, which leads to her meeting The Aviator, who begins to tell her his story. A world of imagination and stories begins to open up as she starts to look at stars and flowers and other things outside of her structured life.

It’s a moving and wonderful trailer that really conveys the sense of wonder The Little Girl beings to feel as she spends more time with The Aviator. The visuals are gorgeous and it’s clear the filmmakers are aiming at not leaving a dry eye in the house.

A new trailer was released a bit after Netflix acquired the movie that starts out more or less the same, with The Little Girl being overwhelmed with her mother’s plan for her entire life. She meets The Aviator, who opens up a world of imagination and stories to her in a way she didn’t know was possible before. So there are all kinds of scenes of the story being told and the incredible adventures taking place in those stories.

It’s a bit tighter and so works a bit better than the first trailer, though it also hits many of the same notes. Still, Netflix had to carve out its own identify for the movie and this is a good effort in that direction.

Online and Social

There is a URL on the poster but it now redirects to the movie’s Netflix listing for the movie where you can sign up or add it to your list.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’m aware of. There will likely be some online advertising done closer to release, but there’s nothing I’ve seen to date.

Media and Publicity

The movie got some nice press when it was announced as the opening night film at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, the first animated movie to be chosen for that slot in the festival’s history.

the little prince pic 1

In an odd move the movie was suddenly – just a week or so before it was scheduled for release – pulled by Paramount from its schedule. Speculation ran along the lines of the studio being afraid it was about to be hit with a box-office dud but that didn’t sit right with me and seems too easy. Yes, it may have been wanting to avoid Zootopia, which was dominating in theaters at the time but it could have just pushed it a few weeks to allow for some breathing space. The movie didn’t go homeless for long as Netflix quickly scooped it up and promised a release later in the year. Netflix later announced it would open the movie day-and-date online and in select theaters, which would set the stage for a full awards season push.

Overall

There’s a nice consistent brand look and feel to the campaign, something that’s all the more notable and impressive for the relatively last-minute pivot it took on the way to release. The trailer and poster all work well together very well and show a movie that’s all about the power of imagination. It’s all selling the same thing, even after the move from Paramount to Netflix, which is good.

That’s about it in terms of how the campaign works or not. It could have been a disaster when Paramount unceremoniously dumped it, leading to all kinds of bad word of mouth. Instead the sudden decision caused a wave of people to rally around it and has stirred up more interest as it became a cause celebre, seen as the underdog movie that was too quirky or questionable for the mainstream studios. It doesn’t hurt that Netflix is maintaining some theatrical distribution.

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