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

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Deadpool

  • 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.

The Marketing Campaigns for 2017’s Academy Awards Best Picture Nominees

The nominees for this year’s Academy Awards were announced yesterday. While Deadpool didn’t get the nomination the filmmakers and many in the press had been hoping it would there were still a few surprises, including that the acting categories actually featured people of color after years of #OscarsSoWhite being the dominant theme of the reactionary commentary. To mark the occassion, let’s look back at the marketing campaigns for this year’s nine Best Picture nominees

Arrival

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As for the marketing itself, it all seems to be working together to create a slick, stylish brand identity for the movie. Everything here is crisp and clean, presenting an adult thriller that’s geared for the adult and discerning audience. There’s little pandering here to the unwashed masses. Many have drawn the connection between this and previous movies like Interstellar and Gravity and it’s very much in that vein, an art film for grownups that’s dressed up like a big-budget alien movie. It’s more about the themes of the story, though, a message that comes through clearly in the campaign.

Fences

Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson.

The movie that’s being sold looks incredibly powerful. It’s a story about long-delayed dreams, unfulfilled potential, what you owe the generation after yours and how all that relates to race told by some of the best of today’s working actors. It’s a vital story in this time in history and it’s one that will hopefully continue to garner not more awards consideration but also an audience to see that story told.

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.

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.

Hidden Figures

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I honestly feel like this movie couldn’t be more 2016 if it tried. At least the marketing campaign couldn’t. It’s all about how women of color have been removed from the narrative of one of the country’s – hell, mankind’s – greatest achievements. If “men get all the credit for something women were an integral part of” doesn’t sum up this past year I’m not sure what does. So the campaign has worked not only to tell people there’s an important story here, but it’s one that’s likely repeated daily as men talk over their female colleagues and mansplain what’s it’s “actually” about. For that reason, the movie is likely to become a lightning rod as one group claims the story as their own and the other complains how it downplays the contributions of white men. I’m guessing the phrase “white genocide” may even come up in one or two Facebook comments.

La La Land

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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

Lion

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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.

Manchester by the Sea

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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.

Moonlight

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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.

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.

Moonlight

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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.

Deadpool

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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

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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.

Lion

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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

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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.

MMM Recap: Week of 12/9/16 New Releases

Frank & Lola

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It’s nothing special and it’s almost guaranteed to fall through the cracks of a busy holiday release season. While Shannon certainly has a stellar reputation among serious movie fans, this has zero buzz and I’m assuming very low name recognition. It hasn’t gotten a boost and the lack of either paid or organic press activity means that needle isn’t being moved anytime soon.

Office Christmas Party

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As for the movie itself, it looks pretty darn funny. It’s hard to deny the level of talent involved here, including Olivia Munn. Aniston is actually a huge part of the campaign, selling her involvement as a key part of the story and the humor, despite her apparent position in the story as the wet blanket looking to tamp down everyone’s fun. This is being sold as a big old good time, filled with every bad or crazy story you heard from a friend about this one holiday party they once went to, with the inappropriateness turned up to 11. Let’s see if it connects with an audience looking for a stupid comedy filled with bad behavior.

La La Land

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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

All We Had

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It’s a cute campaign that sells an emotional story. There’s nothing hugely innovative here but it sells the movie as a strong outing by Holmes, hitting repeatedly that this is her directorial debut. That doesn’t overwhelm the story, though, which is presented here as a mother/daughter drama more than anything else. It doesn’t hint too strongly at the elements of the story that deal more with the economic downturn of the last decade, instead opting to just keep the focus on the characters and their situations throughout the campaign.

Movie Marketing Madness: La La Land

la_la_land_ver4Hollywood loves stories about Los Angeles. There are countless movies about the city and the entertainment industry that always wind up being big hits with the those in the business and critics. Joining that list this week is La La Land, the new movie from writer/director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and starring the ridiculously good-looking pair of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

La La Land is a love story but it’s also a completely original musical. Stone plays Mia, an actress who’s struggling to secure her big break. One day she meets Sebastian (Gosling), a piano player who gets by playing in bars but dreams of opening a jazz club of his own. The two bump into each other several times and finally form a romantic relationship. But that love affair is threatened when their careers actually start to take off and the struggles that brought them together now threaten what has been a magical romance.

The Posters

The first poster is kind of great. Designed to look like a record cover from the early 1940s or so, it shows Stone and Gosling in a passionate embrace while in one of the vertical stripes next to them you see the L.A. Observatory, an easy way to establish the location of the story. At the top along with the actor’s names is a call-out about the key song (which we’ll see is also in the first trailer), enhancing the LP artwork feel of the one-sheet.

A second poster was just as good and also looks like something you found in your mom’s record collection. This one shows Gosling and Stone walking across a room, both decked out in nice outfits, the picture tinged heavily with a blue that stripes across the neutral background that’s seen at the top and the bottom. Even the rating and the “In Theaters” copy at the bottom looks like what on a record would say “In Stereo” or something.

A special poster for the movie’s appearance at the Venice Film Festival was also released. It’s not as interesting thematically as the first two but still sells the overall appeal of the movie pretty well, showing Gosling and Stone dancing on a hill top, the lights of Los Angeles below a dark night’s sky. “Here’s to the fools who dream” the copy at the top tells us.

The theatrical poster foregoes the artistic stylings of the earlier one-sheets in favor of a simple image of Gosling and Stone, shown from behind while staring out over the nighttime skyline of Los Angeles. Or at least it would be a simple image if it weren’t for the fact that all the negative space on the poster is taken up by accolades from critics, turning what should have continued the magical look and feel of the poster campaign into a cluttered mess.

The Trailers

The first trailer is all about setting the mood for the movie while revealing as little as possible about the story. Essentially a short music video, we get lots of shots of Gosling and Stone as the dance around each other, gaze across rooms at each other and otherwise engage in this storybook romance. So they’re at nightclubs, dancing in the streets and more.

Again, there’s not much about the story on display here but it’s still pretty great. It definitely establishes the setting of Los Angeles, presenting it as a place where literally anything can happen, most of it magical and romantic. The time period here is kind of iffy as we’re shown modern cars but a vibe that’s definitely more out of the 1940s or 50s than the 21st century. That’s not a bad thing, it’s part of the movie’s charm, it seems.

Another trailer came out a bit later that took the same approach but this time featured Stone singing about the mess they’ve made, with the same kind of shots that present a version of Los Angeles that seems to exist in all time periods, from the 1940s to the present, at the same time.

The official trailer starts off at a disappointing audition Mia is at, but we soon see her wandering into the piano bar Sebastian plays at. The two catch each other’s eyes just as we see him get fired and we’re off to the races. What follows is lots of them walking around and talking in the cutest way possible interspersed with shots of them dancing. There are scenes of them struggling with their careers, him going toward opening his own club, she trying to be an actress. More dancing, more walking around L.A. and it all ends in a big musical number, of course.

It works really hard to be just as charming and magical as the first couple spots while also adding more of the story into the mix. That comes through very well without getting in the way of the sweepingly epic scope the movie is trying to take with this very intimate story. Gosling and Stone has loads of chemistry (they should at this point, having worked together so often) and that really comes through here, helping sell the whole package.

Online and Social

Video from the trailers plays full-screen when you load the movie’s official website, which also starts playing some of the music from the soundtrack. That soundtrack is an important part of the movie’s overall brand with its selection of original music, which is evident from how there’s a big button encouraging people to buy the album on either physical or digital media at the bottom of the page. There are graphics touting the movie’s RottenTomatoes score along with Venice and Toronto festival wins and a couple of positive critical quotes around the title treatment. There are also links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

The menu of content at the top starts with “Videos,” which is where you can (and should) watch all three trailers along with featurettes on the production of the movie and the music in the film. “Synopsis” has a pretty good recap of the story along with some of the credits for those involved.

That’s expanded on slightly in the “Cast & Filmmakers” section. There’s not additional information for the Filmmakers section but in the Cast area when you click on one of the names a picture of that actor in character comes up. Finally, “Gallery” has a handful of production stills along with a single behind-the-scenes photo.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

I’ll hand it to the TV campaign, it didn’t try to hide much about what had already made the movie a word-of-mouth superstar. TV spots like this one made it clear it’s filled with singing and dancing, all of that serving a story of an epic, magical romance between two struggling entertainers.

The studio kept those spots coming throughout the last month or so leading up to release, with each one hitting slightly different notes but all of them selling this as a big-screen musical romance in the classic tradition but with plenty of modern twists. There were variations on that theme, but most all sold that basic approach.

TV spots and trailers were used in social media ads on Twitter and other networks. Other online ads used the key art or videos to drive ticket sales and outdoor billboards used the key art or image of Stone and Gosling dancing with the L.A. cityscape in the background.

Media and Publicity

A first look photo showing Stone and Gosling mid-dance appeared in EW. The movie was part of Fox Searchlight’s portion of Fox’s CinemaCon presentation, where the first footage debuted, which had everyone online oolong and aaaahing as they talked about the tone and visuals of that footage.

That premiere at Venice came off very well, earning the movie plenty of buzz and positive word of mouth. While there Chazzelle talked about why he’s so attracted to musicals, Stone talked about the story’s overt hopefulness and joy and more. The music continued to be a focus of the press, with composer Justin Hurwitz talking about creating the music that was so central to the story.

The movie was also among those selected for the Telluride Film Festival. Everyone came out of Toronto even more in love with the movie than they were already, culminating with Stone winning an award for her performance in the film.

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Chazzelle talked extensively here about the long and sometimes tortured path the movie took to production as it was put into turnaround, had actors sign on and then drop out and ultimately just faced the challenge of being an original musical. Also covered is the working relationship between Stone and Gosling, since this is their third time out together inside of five years.

Overall

“Charming” is a word that’s hard not to use when describing this campaign. Everything here is designed to charm the audience, from the relationship between Mia and Sebastian to the plucky, upbeat music and the audacious dance sequences that are on display throughout the push. It’s all designed to seem completely unironic and sincere, sold as an antidote to the cynical world around us and the upsetting news we see almost daily. It just wants us to smile and enjoy the singing and dancing.

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

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