What strikes me about the campaign is that there’s precious little attention paid to the story itself. There’s no synopsis on the website, there’s no copy or other hints on the posters and even the full trailer doesn’t go too in-depth on what exactly is going on. Instead the focus is on the visuals and the tone of the movie, the whole thing tinged with that soft, watery green that makes you feel vaguely uncomfortable and uneasy. The focus is clearly on the eels that are part of the cure and other aspects to make the audience feel curious and a bit queasy, not on laying out the story completely.
But the campaign is consistent, selling more or less the same message across media and platforms. There’s lots of emphasis on Day’s spineless character and how he’s viewed as the guy who’s all too happy to have sand kicked in his face. That joke may be funny in spurts, but I think it’s going to wear thin over the course of 90 minutes unless there’s some major element of the story and the film that’s not been part of the marketing. Otherwise this looks like a dry, largely unfunny but generally “pleasant” movie.
The whole marketing effort has been focused on the spectacle but it’s conveyed very little about the actual story, which seems like part of the reason the movie doesn’t seem to be lighting very many conversations on fire. The trailers, posters and website are all concerned primarily with selling the mystery of the beasts that are attacking the Great Wall and building up the mythology behind that wonder’s construction. But the idea that the spectacle alone is going to bring people in seems off at the moment and while I’m sure the movie will succeed in China, I don’t think its’ U.S. fortunes are going to be all that great.