Jacob is just discovering he’s not like other teenagers, notably that he has unusual powers and abilities. As he uncovers more and more about his past and his skills he comes to find Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a special refuge and home for people like him. He comes to find out there are many more like him and that his role is particularly unique in that society. That’s going to be especially important as not only does society as a whole fear them but there are dark forces who have much more malevolent intentions toward them.
The movie is the latest from director Tim Burton and is based on the popular book, the first of a series. Asa Butterfield stars as Jake, with Eva Green playing the titular headmistress of the sanctuary. Samuel L. Jackson plays the seemingly evil Mr. Barron, the head of the mysterious and dangerous Wights that are coming after the home and its residents. Ella Purcell plays Emma, the young girl who helps Jake acclimate to his new surroundings. Let’s take a look at how Fox has been selling it.
The first poster introduced us to the peculiar cast of characters. So all the children are arrayed behind Miss Peregrine herself with the house they live in in the background. We can see what each kid’s gift is as one girl is floating while another holds fire in her hands and another lifts a boulder over her head and so on. At the top of the poster are some of Burton’s previous credits, which lean heavily on other movies about either odd characters or just recent popular entries in his filmography. It’s very colorful and whimsical and even without Burton’s name there you’d likely be able to peg it as coming from him.
The next poster shows Jake walking with Emma along the beach in their own way, by him holding a rope that’s wrapped around her as she floats in the air like a kite. “Stay peculiar,” the copy at the top of the one-sheet says.
A series of posters showed off all the main characters, usually with some visual demonstration of what their unusual powers are. The character names aren’t used here, so we can’t get a really good sense of who they are or connect with them, but we see what they can do and that, apparently, is supposed to be enough to spark the audience’s interest.
The first trailer starts out with a boy and girl out on a small boat on a lake. The girl tells the boy to follow her down and even provides him an air bubble so he can keep going and join her in a sunken ship, which she quickly clears the water out of. So it’s clear she has abilities. We then go back to Jake coming to the house and start to meet the rest of the residents of the house that’s a sanctuary for people like them. But it’s soon revealed that Jake is there to protect the rest of the kids from some threat, which we see only glimpses of toward the end.
As with the first poster, it would be easy to identify this as coming from Burton even if he weren’t name dropped (as “visionary”) toward the beginning. The visual style alone is clearly from his mind. It does a decent job of initial introductions to the cast and the basic premise without going too deep into the full story, which is fine for this first entry. Yeah, it’s slightly unusual that all these peculiar children are white, but let’s not go too far in that direction.
The second trailer starts off with X showing Jake around the grounds before she floats up in the air, introducing us to a world of unique characters. It’s explained that the house exists in a time loop that keeps it safe from harm, but there’s a group of bad guys who have been hunting peculiar people and Jake has to promise to protect everyone who lives there.
It looks like we’ve hit peak quirk here. I like that this one explains a bit more of the story and hey, I’m always on board for weird Tim Burton stories. It just remains to be seen if the quirk overshadows the actual characters, which is a real fear in a movie like this.
Online and Social
The main call-to action on the official website is to buy tickets, with a big prompt on the front page to either get individual tickets or make it a group event through Atom Tickets, the first time I’ve seen that given such prominent placement. There are also links to the movie’s Facebook and Twitter profiles.
The “Videos” section has the trailers as well as a featurette interview with Burton and a selection of clips. “About” has the same synopsis you can find on IMDb and elsewhere along with the cast and crew list.
There’s a big call to action after that asking you to “Join Miss Peregrine’s flock” but what that entails isn’t explained here. It prompts you to enter your email address but there’s no value proposition here as to why you should do so. That seems like a big oversight since it amounts to signing up blind for something you have little to no context here.
“Gallery” has a handful of pictures for you to scroll through. Then you can download and view all the “Posters,” a section that’s followed by a series of “Motion Posters” featuring highly stylized artwork showing off the main cast of peculiar children and other characters.
Finally, there’s a list of “Partners” that shows off the companies who helped promote the movie.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
The first TV spot debuted during the Teen Choice Awards. It works a lot like the first trailer, setting up the fact that Jake is our surrogate in the movie, experiencing the world of the peculiar along with us and trying to figure out where he fits in. That role, it’s explained, is as the one who will protect the children who live in the home from the monsters who are hunting them. The spot is focused on the imaginative visuals with only a little dash of story sneaking in here and there, firmly settled on selling the movie as a spectacle more than anything else.
There were plenty of outdoor and online ads run as well that used the key art as well as other character-centric artwork.
Promotional partners for the movie included:
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Marc Jacobs
- Visa Signature
- Sta Travel
- Hot Topic
It was, unfortunately, hard to find many details about what many of these companies were doing in their promotional efforts.
Media and Publicity
The very first piece of promotion for the movie was a video that appeared on YouTube titled “Happy Loop Day.”
For anyone who’s not familiar with the source material this may have been a bit confusing, sending them to The Google to figure out what was going on. But for those who were already fans, this was likely right up their alley, playing to that fanbase well with a nod to the knowledge they had currently.
One of the first substantive pieces of publicity for the movie came in the form of a feature including first look photos and a brief interview with Burton about shooting the movie. It was soon announced the movie would have its official debut at Fantastic Fest, which is a smart target market for it.
How Burton got involved and why the producers picked him were covered in this story, which focused on the director’s ability to play in fantasy worlds while still retaining the heart and emotions of the characters. Much of the publicity was along the lines of this story, where Burton talked about getting involved with the movie, how he sketched the look of the characters and created the overall vision and so on.
So much of what’s here relies on your personal opinion of and taste for Burton’s brand of filmmaking and characters. His look and feel and his unique vision is all over the marketing, particularly in the trailers and publicity. So if you’re not onboard with Buron as a director and designer then much of this campaign will likely have a hard time resonating with you. If you’re more of a fan, even if it’s just of his later work like Alice in Wonderland, then there’s more here to latch on to.
Because it’s coming from a director with such a unique vision and sense of focus, there’s a really good brand consistency that’s evident across the campaign. The same look and feel and appeal is being made across all the individual elements, with it all coming together in the paid campaign. The audience is being sold a story about teenage feelings of being an outsider until you discover family is who you choose to hang out with and be around, all brought into focus through Burton’s visual aesthetic.