Picking Up the Spare: Deadpool, La La Land, Fifty Shades Darker, Kong



  • The campaign for Deadpool won the top slot at this year’s Publicist Guild awards for the fun, irreverent tactics employed to get people to come out for a movie starring a largely unknown, foul-mouthed anti-hero.
  • OK, this isn’t related to the first movie and it’s officially *not* a teaser for the sequel, but you can’t miss this Deadpool short that ran in front of Logan this past weekend.

La La Land

  • A Lionsgate marketing exec offers commentary on the movie’s poster campaign to explain just what they were trying to do with this aspect of the campaign.

Fifty Shades Darker

  • Universal Pictures created a Snapchat filter that let people don the masks that are featured in the movie’s masquerade ball and which formed a large chunk of the marketing.

Kong: Skull Island

  • A couple new trailers popped in the last few days, one that applies a 1930’s veneer to the film and includes big blocks of text similar to what would appear in trailers of that era and one that’s pretty much more of the same, just with some big plot points explicitly laid out. The second one is tonally different from the others mostly in the use of some sort of dubstep or other track as opposed to the other, more period-appropriate music used previously.

  • Madame Tussauds in New York City and London created movie-themed exhibits featuring recreations of some of the characters and the titular ape.

  • Apparently massive ape footprints were placed in strategic locations around the Los Angeles area, with all those locations accessible via the crowd-sourced navigation app Waze as well.

Picking Up the Spare: Deadpool and More



  • There’s a narrative that’s gaining steam in the entertainment press that Deadpool could be an Academy Awards contender, with stories in The New York Times, Variety and elsewhere furthering that perspective. The idea seems to be that the movie was so nervy – and that the experiment paid off – that it deserves some sort of consideration by the staid Academy members. I’m not sure I completely buy that line of thought, though. While it certainly captured the zeitgeist of the moment there was little about the filmmaking itself that jumps out at me as being among the best of the year. It was fun to be sure, but this seems to pin hopes on the Academy wanting to appear hip and with it, a role it’s not really embraced in the past.


  • Those who worked on the campaigns for Deadpool, The Jungle Book and many other movies have been nominated for Maxwell Weinberg publicist showmanship motion picture awards.

Picking Up the Spare: Rogue One, Hidden Fences, Loving, Deadpool


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

  • Germain Lussier at io9 shares comments from director Gareth Edwards about the unexpected process and set of circumstances that lead to at least some of those shots from the Rogue One trailers that didn’t wind up appearing in the finished movie.
  • The team at SocialBakers looks at the volume and type of content posted by some of the movie’s licensing partners.

Hidden Figures / Fences

  • Stephen Colbert has some fun with the verbal SNAFU made at the Golden Globes and creates a mock trailer for this unintended mashup.



Golden Globes Best Picture Nominee Marketing Campaigns

The Golden Globe nominees were announced yesterday, bringing with it the predictable annual mix of responses that range from outrage over who was perceived as being snubbed, complaints about those nominated seemingly only because the HFPA wants to party with them and more. Whatever the case, below is a list of the movies nominated for Best Picture to remind you all how they were sold to the audience for their theatrical run. Some of these are more recent than others and it excludes 20th Century Women, which comes out later this month.



The movie’s personal focus and touch really comes through in this campaign. Everything here is focused on making sure the potential audience sees that it’s a human story with a very small scale, focusing on Chiron’s journey and emotions. The trailer, the press push and the posters all work to make it clear the spotlight will never leave him and his struggle for identity and acceptance.

Hacksaw Ridge

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It’s hard to get a sense of the scale of the actual movie from the campaign. This seems like a big release and an important movie. But there’s only one trailer, a mismatched TV campaign and a press push that was kind of light for what seems like it should be an awards contender. It just seems like there should have been more. And there certainly should have been something on the official site that offered a bit more background on Doss, considering his story is so important.



And the campaign conveys all that. It relies heavily on Reynolds’ inherent charm to sell a character a very small percentage of the audience is likely familiar without outside his one premious ill-fated cinematic outing. The sense of humor of the movie comes through in all elements of the movie to sell something that may not be a laugh-a-minute time at the movies but which certainly looks like it’s going to work hard to entertain. The focus on gags over story in the campaign has me *slightly* worried there’s little of the latter to be found, but we’ll see.

La La Land


The entire campaign is meant to evoke a timeless nature. The throwback images that were used in early posters and the way the trailers make you think the movie could take place this year or in 1961 all creates a sense that the story exists out of time to some extent, reinforcing the slight nostalgia-esque approach to the marketing. Add to all that the almost universally positive word of mouth that’s resulted from festival screenings and the love the soundtrack has received and you have a campaign that’s…yeah, it’s ridiculously charming

Florence Foster Jenkins

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All that aside, it’s a solid, consistent campaign for a movie that instantly shot to the top of your parent’s To See Soon List. It’s hard to see this generating much interest in the under-45 age group outside of a few individuals who are big Streep fans. My guess, though, is that’s fine and the older crowd of white people might be enough to turn it into a modest hit. The marketing promises the audience won’t be challenged at all but instead be taken for a moderately enjoyable ride on a story that is charming and slight. You know, like a super hero movie but with some Oscar aspirations.



In terms of the marketing itself, it’s more or less consistent across the elements as to what it’s selling, which is Saroo’s search to uncover his true identity and find his family. That comes through just about everywhere. The website is lightest on this angle, but considering it sacrifices story for a charitable appeal, it’s hard to fault it on that front. The repeated use of the search box in the graphical elements works pretty well once you figure out what’s going on and helps to setup the story. All in all this is a decent campaign for a movie that counts on emotions more than other traditional commercial appeals to turn out the audience.

Hell or High Water

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Somewhere around the second trailer, though, that started to turn and it became more and more interesting as the story came more into focus. Foster’s performance came more to the forefront and the dynamic between him and Pine was more clear and the campaign started to show audiences what the movie was trying to say, what it’s message was. If the audience caught that message it could be enough to turn out some specialty box office success.

Sing Street

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But what is here is good. The campaign certainly conveys the same attitude as Once, even if the details are different. It’s a coming of age story, something that always plays well with certain audiences, and so the marketing should resonate with them. It’s selling a movie that, like its main character, loves music and what it can do, particularly how it can affect the relationships around us. It’s sweet, it’s personal and it’s got a soundtrack that those of us of a certain age will relate to at the very least.

Manchester By the Sea


There’s a ton of emotion in this campaign and it’s great to see. As with other movies from Lonergan, the focus is clearly on the relationships that are driving the story here. These are not shallow emotional waters we’re wading into, something that comes through in most every aspect of the marketing. The audience is expected to connect with all the characters, from Lee to Patrick to Randi, throughout the campaign.

Picking Up The Spare: Miss Sloane, Deadpool


Miss Sloane

  • This “extended trailer” debuted on The Today Show just as the movie debuted in theaters and works better than the previous theatrical trailer because it runs a full five minutes. The central framing device is Sloane’s testimony before Congress but within that we get flashbacks to the key events of the story that lead to her being questioned about bribery, espionage and other illegal activities. This really gives Chastain more room to shine and sells the movie even more strongly based on her performance. It’s fantastic.


After the Campaign: Deadpool

After finally catching up with Deadpool I can firmly say the following: The marketing campaign from earlier this year both did and totally didn’t accurately sell the movie.

The story follows Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a mercenary who falls in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) but who shortly thereafter is diagnosed with multiple forms of cancer. After exhausting all other other options he volunteers for a program to turn him into the ultimate weapon. But things go sideways and he winds up pissing off the people who operated on him, people who kidnap Vanessa to get at Wade. So he’s off on a mission of revenge and rescue.


What’s surprising about the marketing campaign after seeing the movie is just how normal it is, at least in terms of the trailers. Those were funny and hit some of the tonal elements of the movie but even the red-band trailers didn’t come close to the all-out insanity of the movie itself. Instead that was left to the rest of the campaign, with its posters featuring Deadpool in fuzzy sweaters, the December campaign counting down to a new trailer and so on. So there was still plenty of that attitude to be seen, it just wasn’t fully captured in the entire campaign, particularly the elements that had the highest general audience penetration.

But let’s be honest, the campaign in retrospect only opened the doors to awareness of the movie’s existence. Most people, from what I saw, went to the theater based on either their love for the character or the promise, based on early word-of-mouth, that it was something brand new for the super hero genre. And on that front it absolutely delivers.

Picking Up the Spare: Equity, Deadpool and More



  • ABC is adapting the movie, committing to a pilot for a series based on the character played by Anna Gunn in the film.



  • Of course as soon as I publish a recap of the marketing saying there’s been no online marketing I begin seeing Facebook ads that, interesting, link to a review of the movie in The New Yorker. I’ve also since encountered a few video ads on YouTube.


Picking Up The Spare: Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse and More


The Do-Over

  • Netflix released one final trailer that focuses much more on the latter part of the story, after the two guys have assumed new identities. This came out like three hours after I published my column. smh.
  • Also immediately after publishing the column I started noticing full motion banner ads promoting the movie and pushing people to Netflix.


  • It seems a handful of mentions of the chain within the movie spurred TGI Friday’s to go ahead and line up an actual promotional relationship, debuting a few movie-themed cocktails.
  • This New York Times op-ed seems indicative of a trend in the press, which is to put Deadpool in its place in the super hero genre and point out how it’s not only an exception to the rule – it wasn’t endlessly teased over the last six years and so isn’t beholden to all kinds of mythology – but also the best example of pairing a star with a role in these films yet.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Love and Friendship

  • Kate Beckinsale talked about what it is that attracted her to the role, including doing something she hasn’t been widely known for, and how she wasn’t even aware it was based on a Jane Austen novel when she got the script.

Picking Up the Spare: The Family Fang, Captain America, Deadpool, Money Monster, Sunset Song


The Family Fang

  • Kidman, as well as the author of the original book the movie is based on, talked here about how she got involved in producing the film as well as looking at her career as a whole.

Captain America: Civil War


Money Monster

  • EW ran a big feature cover story with Foster, Clooney and Roberts talking about fame, the movie and more.
  • Foster spoke more about the pressures of a mainstream release, her development as a director and more while at Cannes with the movie.

Sunset Song

  • Director Davies talked here about his history with the property, his career to date and more.

That Deadpool Back-and-Forth Could Only Happen on Twitter

Twitter continues, as a company, to suffer under the delusion that it’s a mass-audience tool. We’re told over and over again that it’s “too complicated” and difficult for people to get their heads around, which is why new user acquisition is so stagnant and the company keeps tripping over itself to add or change features to appeal more to that group. I call this a delusion because not only is Twitter easy to understand (certainly easier than Snapchat) but because there’s so much emphasis on following Big Media that few people see the value Twitter has as a conversation facilitator.

Case in point, the back-and-forth from a few days ago, when actor Chris Evans praised Deadpool. That lead to a response from Ryan Reynolds, both of which then caused a tweet from Robert Downey Jr. calling them both out. It was a fun bit of playful teasing between three of Hollywood’s biggest stars, all of whom are anchoring their own super hero franchises. And it’s hard to imagine that happening anywhere but Twitter.


That’s because it’s so hard to have these kind of real-time conversations on Facebook. The News Feed is designed to, if not discourage, at least make this sort of thing difficult. If you’re following X person on Facebook there’s only a small chance (unless you’re only friends with five people) you’ll see their updates on a regular basis. And when you do it might be a couple days before their post appears. Even Instagram isn’t great because it starts out with the first person putting more on the table – a photo – than the respondents are capable of.

(Side note: That you can’t respond to a photo on Instagram with a photo comment suddenly feels like a big missing feature. More on that later.)

This is where Kanye and Amber Rose get into smack talk about his preferences in bed. It’s where Neil Degrasse Tyson gets into a slap fight with a rapper over whether the earth is flat or not. If you’re looking for the value of Twitter, this is it, that there are organic conversations that aren’t happening anywhere else.