Last night the New England Patriots wound up beating the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51, a game that apparently (I didn’t watch it) was tightly contested and ended up being a massive come-from-behind victory for the Patriots. As always the commercials were a huge part of the broadcast, as was Lady Gaga’s incredible halftime performance. Interestingly, Fox did not make the usual claim that the game’s ad spots had sold out, something that’s usually made great hay of to help keep the price of next year’s spots up.
Movie studios of course played a big part in last night’s broadcast, showing off some of the biggest releases scheduled to hit screens later this year. It’s worth noting that in addition to the hefty price tag – reported to be north of $5 million for a 30-second spot – many of the spots below were supported by paid placement on Twitter and Facebook at least, helping to broaden even further the reach of the commercials. That’s a hefty investment, even if unlike other brands these spots didn’t require additional full production. By that I mean they didn’t need to go out and shoot something unique, they just cut existing material differently, a much different situation than other companies that often invest at least that much in an original production.
With all that said, let’s look at the movie spots that debuted during last night’s game.
Ghost in the Shell
This spot actually debuted before the game, but that’s not uncommon these days. There’s not much plot – just a throwaway line about how someone stole The Major’s (Scarlett Johansson) – and is instead focused on showing off the trippy visuals of this science fiction story. There’s also an emphasis on Johansson wearing her skin-tight ghost suit, which is an understandable marketing hook.
Transformers: The Last Knight
Again, the spot actually showed up online before the game but now an extended version has been released. We get the idea that the world is a very different place in this installment, which has Mark Wahlberg returning and Sir Anthony Hopkins joining. Optimus Prime is apparently gone, but that makes his appearance in the spot all the more confusing. Something is coming for Earth that’s *definitely* Unicron but which here just kind of looks like a mashup of the not-Galactus space cloud from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and the world engines from Man of Steel.
Fate of the Furious
It’s all about the race (literally) to save Dom from whatever or whoever is manipulating him here. It also, of course, shows off some of the movie’s bigger setpieces, including the race on an icy frontier. There’s nothing coherent here, it’s all about selling people the spectacle of a bunch of action stars playing off each other in various ways with lots of fast cars, verbal one-liners and talk about family.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Yep, it’s everything you loved about the first movie, only bigger. Now these characters, all of whom get handy introductions here, are a more well-oiled team then when we last saw them. We also meet the new addition, Mantis, and get the sense that there’s a big threat that must be met by our ragtag heroes. There’s some Groot humor, some Drax humor and lots of action to help sell the sequel to 2014’s surprise hit. According to data from comScore, this was the winner of the bunch in terms of social media chatter.
John Wick Chapter 2
The movie actually got two spots, both of which made sure to call out that this wasn’t a few months off but was going to be opening the weekend after Valentine’s Day. Other than that it’s all about getting to the point, which is the shootouts and other action that will befall our laconic anti-hero throughout the course of the story. Little of that story is shared here, it’s just about the visuals.
A Cure For Wellness
This skips the setup elements from the first trailer and gets straight to the core premise, which is that DeHaan is trapped in some sort of odd and creepy sanitorium or clinic. There’s some vague talk about “the cure” but mostly the focus is on the frustrated efforts to get out of the mysterious clinic, which is filled with odd treatments and even odder patients. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
This is only the second look at the movie and like the teaser trailer it largely keeps Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow hidden from view. In fact based on this, he’s the Macguffin of the story, the thing everyone is searching for. In lieu of his antics we’re treated to lots of shots of creepy dead pirates – and their birds – as they search for Sparrow. The choice of a Johnny Cash song in the trailer is an odd one as the studio tries to sell a dark tone for this latest installment in the Pirates franchise.
There’s not much new here, with a lot of footage we’ve already seen of Logan and the girl he’s with hiding and fighting off the random bad guys who are attacking them. There are some shots of Logan having trouble in battle, showing he’s older and has maybe lost a step or two but that’s about it, no real hints as to the story or anything else about who the characters are or what they’re after.
Not nearly as funny as the first trailer, it sets up the idea that The Rock, Efron and others have taken on the franchise and are having some fun with it. As with most of the spots, there’s no real story here, just a series of gags, including the best one from the trailer about using “you people.”
We definitely get the idea that this is an outer-space horror movie of sorts from this spot, which features all the big names that are in the film – Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and more – and puts the in danger in various ways. There are people’s arms being ripped off, alien tentacles reaching around corners and more to put your nerves on edge.