What the marketing campaign is selling is nothing that’s all that dissimilar from any movie put out by Pixar or another animation studio in…well…forever. It’s a twist on a story that’s been told time and time again for millennia, about a young person going on a quest of self-discovery. That comes through in the campaign but the focus, really, is on the visuals. The studio is obviously hoping it will turn people out by selling a movie that just doesn’t look like anything else in theaters. That’s the main hook here, but it remains to be seen if it’s enough to get people to an original story, not something that’s a remake or otherwise a revamp of existing IP.
…the campaign cuts kind of a heavy tone. Not “heavy” meaning it has a super-serious tone. More that everything on display here seems very…calculated. Some movies have a kind of lightness and bounce to them, regardless of subject matter. This doesn’t. Instead it seems weighted down. That might just be a byproduct of Teller and Hill, neither of whom are very “light” actors, instead seeming to do everything with furrowed brows or a sense of self-satisfaction that often gets in the way of whatever it is they’re doing. Whether or not the movie moves at the pace suggested by the campaign remains, of course, to be seen.
…this isn’t a bad campaign but it does have some identity issues that unnecessarily create speedbumps for the audience. It’s being sold as both a big, breathtaking epic and a story with a strong religious (specifically Christian) identity, with at least one of the trailers making Jesus a central component of the story and the character’s motivations. That could cause some confusion in the target audience, but the push for evangelical support – something that’s oddly not mentioned on the website, where it’s usually found – is apparently meant to counter that. If the movie does succeed at the box-office, which I don’t think it will based on this campaign, it will be because of that targeted outreach.
This is one of those campaigns that coasts by on the charming, wonderfully unique nature of the premise and the characters. The trailer is well cut and the poster is fine, but it leans heavily on the breezy feeling of the story and the characters and is all the better for it. Christmas and Robinson play well off of each other, as it’s shown here and that’s the big draw, to come see that dynamic, especially from the unknown quantity of Christmas. It’s one of those campaigns that has an immediately identifiable attitude and style that sets it apart from the rest of the pack.