spider-man: across the spider-verse (part one) – marketing recap

How Sony has sold the latest (albeit different) Spider-Man movie

spider-man: Across The Spider-Verse movie poster from Sony Pictures
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse movie poster from Sony Pictures

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse arrives in theaters this week with a lot of anticipation on a number of fronts.

First there’s the excitement of fans, who loved the first movie in 2018, especially for its varied and inventive animation styles, the emotional story it contained and the performances of its voice cast.

Second, there’s the anticipation of the movie industry itself, which has seen a number of big franchise films fall relatively flat at the box office in the last several months, leading to a significant amount of hand-wringing over whether the strategy that’s guided Hollywood and exhibitors for the last 15 years may be fading.

This movie picks up a year after the events of the original and finds Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) approached by Gwen Stacy/Spider Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) to help stop The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), a villain who can travel through dimensions using the portals his body is covered with. To do so they’ll also need the help of The Spider Society, a group made up of Spider People from across the multiverse, meaning just about every iteration of Spider-Man shows up at some point or another.

Brian Tyree Henry, Issa Rae, Jake Johnson, Amandla Stenberg, Oscar Isaac, Daniel Kaluuya and a host of others provide the voices for some of those and other supporting characters. Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and David Callaham wrote the screenplay and Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson directed the film, so let’s take a look at how Sony has sold it to the summer movie-going public.

announcements and casting

A Tweet from Sony in early October of 2019 served as the official announcement the movie was coming. It was much later, in April 2021, that a three-man directing team was announced.

Rae was added to the cast in June of that year.

A “first look” was released in December 2021 at Brazil Comic-Con. It shows Gwen making an unexpected cross-dimensional stop by Miles’ room, which is extremely embarrassing for him on multiple levels. After she gets him to come with her we see lots of animated craziness, including a brief appearance by Spider-Man 2099, that hints at what’s to come.

Lord and Miller were interviewed a short while later about the varying styles of animation the movie would feature, an ambitious undertaking available to them because of the multiple dimensions the story could travel to.

Unfortunately in April 2022 Sony announced that both this movie and the third installment were being pushed back by several months, moving this one from late 2022 to summer 2023.

A short while later Lord and Miller appeared at Sony’s 2022 CinemaCon presentation to offer updates on and footage from the movie, especially touting the size of the production crew and the number of characters that would show up. That presentation also came with the news this was “part one” of the second movie, with “part two coming later.

The villain spot was introduced in mid-June while the film was being promoted at the Annecy Animation Film Festival, along with the fact the character was being voiced by Jason Schwartzman. Kaluuya was announced as the voice of Spider-Punk in November.

In November of last year Lord and Miller talked about the varying animation styles being used in the movie and later teased where Miles and other characters are in their arcs as this second movie begins.

the marketing campaign

Sony kicked off the marketing of the movie in December, 2022 with the release of the first trailer (33.8m YouTube plays). It uses the framing device of a talk Miles is having with his mother and how much she wants him to be safe and loved in the world as he gets older to show us first a collection of scenes from the first movie and then a bit from this new one. Before it ends it establishes just how many Spider People we’re going to see and that Miles and Gwen will be butting heads with Spider-Man 2099 over the role of the hero.

After that trailer dropped Sony hosted a conversation with Lord, Miller and Steinfeld on YouTube premium where they dropped a few more hints about what fans could expect and how excited they were to share this new movie.

Miles is out in front of the collection of the others from the multiverse on the first poster, the primary purpose of which is to show off just how obscure the filmmakers got when selecting which versions of the characters to highlight.

That variety was again showcased in a series of symbols teased in mid-January.

More new images from the movie were revealed by Empire along with comments from both the directors and producer Amy Pascal.

In late March the studio drummed up some attention by creating Spider personas for a number of celebrities on social media such as this one for Kumail Nanjiani.

Also in March Sony announced a new short set in the world of the movies was scheduled to debut at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in June. That was accompanied by the news of a new mentorship program designed to foster young talent.

April started with another new trailer (40.2m YouTube plays). It more firmly sets up The Spot as the villain of the story, which leads to Gwen introducing Miles to the Spider Society, which leads to the philosophical conflict with 2099 and Miles’ determination to defy the odds and attempt the impossible.

Gwen, Miles and 2099 were added as emojis on Twitter after the trailer came out. There was also a number you could text to “join the Spider Society” and get updates about the movie, something that was promoted to those attending Coachella via billboards and other signage. A website also let you upload a selfie and get a custom image back of your Spider-Verse self.

Some of the cast were in attendance at CinemaCon 2023, where Sony showed off footage from the movie and executives hyped it to exhibition executives and journalists.

Miles and Gwen are both featured on the next poster, with the amount of other characters in the background slimmed down to just those that will presumably be focused on in the movie. Another came out to celebrate #NationalSuperHeroDay, this one showing the action reflected in the eyes of Miles and Gwen. A more traditional super hero design is used on yet another one-sheet released at the beginning of May.

A slimmed down version of the trailer was used as a TV spot debuting during a UFC match after tickets went on sale. Later there was an exclusive promo for ESPN’s “SportsCenter” with the hosts trying to outdo each other as the bigger Spider-Man fan.

Exclusive posters from IMAX, Dolby and 4DX all used some variation on Miles falling through the air as Gwen and the other Spider characters spin around him.

Additional TV commercials and pre-roll ads used more footage from the film showing not only the conflict at the heart of the story but also how Miles is still a bit awkward as a hero along with the relationship between him and Gwen. Some also offered more in-depth introductions to new characters like Jessica Drew and Pavitr Prabhakar.

Hyundai, which in June of 2020 signed a multi-film promotional deal with Sony and which launched a TV spot as part of a campaign more recently featuring music from the film’s soundtrack.

The first clip came out in mid-May showing Miles in the middle of a meeting between his parents and principal about his grades and attendance record. Another has Gwen explaining the concept of the Spider Society to Miles, who’s trying to show off in front of her. IMDb also shared one with Gwen, Miguel and Jessica saving a helicopter crew. More were released by other outlets or through official channels over the course of the next few weeks.

TikTok users could add a filter to their dance videos that put graphics in the movie’s style around them. Meanwhile Alexa users could get showtimes and purchase tickets by adding the Spider-Verse theme to their devices. Web-shooters and other movie themed costumes and quests were added to Fortnight as well. A Snapchat filter not only added effects but also music by Metro Boomin’ from the movie’s soundtrack while Giphy stickers allowed you to add some adorable versions of the characters to your photos and videos.

A series of individual posters offered better looks at some of the main characters, including The Spot.

Lord and Miller hosted a “friends and family” screening of the movie in L.A. toward the end of May, with the official red carpet premiere held a few days later. The producers, directors and other talent all talked about what was new, what was exciting and more.

A lyric video for Metro Boomin’s “Calling” capped off a portion of the campaign that heavily leaned on his work for the film’s soundtrack and sought to activate his fans for the movie.


Feeling hip and relevant is easy for the campaign as a whole given the people involved and the attitude they’re working to convey. And that’s the main point, to let the audience know this Spider-Man movie is loose and fun and emotional, not stuffy and over-filled with world-building details.

But mostly, it sells that the film has heart in addition to featuring incredible animation. That’s why it’s garnered such overwhelmingly positive reviews and word of mouth in addition to a projected $80 million opening weekend.

Spider-Man Spiderverse Movie GIF by Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse - Find & Share on GIPHY

the little mermaid (2023) – marketing recap

How Disney has sold its latest live-action adaptation

The Little Mermaid (2023) movie poster from Walt Disney Studios with Halle Bailey, Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy
The Little Mermaid (2023) movie poster from Walt Disney Studios

The Little Mermaid comes to theaters this week from Walt Disney Studios, the latest in a string of second takes on a story after the studio’s original animated versions.

Halle Bailey stars as Ariel, the mermaid who is fascinated by the surface world and who falls in love with Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), a human who she saves from drowning. Ariel makes a deal with the wicked Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to become human herself so she can spend more time with Eric over the objections of her father King Triton (Javier Bardem). Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay provide the voices of Ariel’s underwater friends Sebastian, Scuttle and Flounder.

Rob Marshall directed this new version, written by David Magee and featuring most of the same songs by Alan Menken as the 1989 animated feature.

announcement and casting

Bailey’s casting in mid-2019 was simultaneously praised for its inclusiveness and derided by those small minded individuals for whom any nod in that direction is traumatic. Tremblay, McCarthy and others joined around the same time, with Diggs coming on board later that year.

This was one of several live-action productions halted by Disney in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Diggs spoke briefly about the movie while promoting other things in early 2021.

An interview with Mencken in September 2021 included him revealing he was writing four new songs for the movie.

Disney finally gave it a 2023 release date a month later.

the marketing campaign

The first teaser trailer debuted in September 2022. It mostly shows off the visuals of the undersea kingdom Ariel lives in but keeps her hidden until the end, when we see her singing the chorus from “Part of That World”.

That debut actually happened during Disney’s D23 Expo, with Bailey, Marshall and others in attendance.

A teaser poster wasn’t released until October, also showing Ariel looking longingly up at the surface from her undersea vantage point.

An interview with Marshall had him expressing his dismay that there was such a pointed negative reaction to Bailey’s casting that also resurfaced when the trailer came out.

“Part of That World” is once again the central element in a TV spot released in February featuring most of the same footage seen in the teaser trailer with brief glimpses of Eric and Ursula added.

The next poster came out in March of this year and features Ariel in almost the exact same position as on the teaser, but this time the rock she’s perched on is above the water. That one-sheet was mostly part of the build up to the debut of the official trailer (17m YouTube plays), which happened during the Oscars broadcast.

That trailer opens by showing the shipwreck that throws Eric into the ocean, where he’s saved by Ariel, something that doesn’t sit well with her father. Ursula takes advantage of Ariel’s curiosity to make her human and she goes to the surface world and finds Eric and yada yada yada.

More of the cast is shown on the theatrical one-sheet released a couple days later, but Ariel is still sitting on a rock here.

As Disney has done a lot recently, a video featured the cast reacting to the full trailer.

Bailey appeared on “GMA” to talk about taking on the lead role in the movie and what it was like to film underwater for so long, something also covered in another interview. EW then shared a handful of new photos.

A featurette has Bailey, Marshall and others talking about what’s been retained from the original, what’s been changed and more. Menken is part of that as well along with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who joined to help adapt some of the music and add his own style.

An extended TV spot offers a bit more Flounder and a bit more of Ursula’s conniving.

McCarthy appeared in person at Disney’s CinemaCon 2023 presentation in April, sharing how much fun it was to play the villain in the story and debuting new footage to attendees there. She then stopped by “GMA” to hit many of the same points.

Marshall was interviewed again about why he took on the project and what fans could expect along with sharing a bunch of new photos from the film.

The first round of character posters included Ariel, Scuttle and Flounder.

Exclusive one-sheets for RealD 3D, Dolby, IMAX, Fandango and 4DX all came out, all showing different aspects of the characters and elements of the story, with some focusing solely on Ariel and others including Triton and Ursula.

Bailey’s cover feature in Ebony was just the latest high-profile press moment for the actor, who was all over the place as buzz around her performance became not only pervasive in general but also a central feature of the campaign.

A clip debuted during the MTV Movie & TV Awards broadcast, this one showing a tender moment between Ariel and Eric.

We get a look behind the scenes in another featurette showing the cast recording some of their voiceover work and talking about the training and other prep they did for filming.

The whole cast and crew along with others came out for the Hollywood premiere where they talked about the process of rehearsing and getting into character while praising everyone involved.

In attendance at the premiere was Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in the 1989 version, and shortly after that event Bailey confirmed Benson has a cameo in this movie and has been nothing but supportive since she was cast.

A longer look at “Under The Sea” came out at that point to make sure everyone knew how awesome Diggs is.

Bailey performed “Part Of Your World” on “American Idol” in mid-May before the international press tour kicked off with stops in Mexico City, London and elsewhere.

One more featurette focused on Ariel’s story and Bailey’s performance as the character, including her singing.

A second batch of character posters included Triton, Eric and Ursula along with Ariel and Scuttle.

Menken was interviewed about which of the songs from the original movie were cut from this one and what changes have been made to a few of those that remain. Benson would approvingly comment on some of those changes, including one that gives Ariel back some power in her relationship with Eric.

The “Poor Unfortunate Souls” clip that was shown at CinemaCon last month was finally released online to show off more of McCarthy’s performance as Ursula.


The campaign must have worked for a good number of people because tracking estimates an opening weekend of $120 million, likely helped by schools beginning to let out as summer gets underway.

There are qualms I have with the marketing from my own perspective, but most of those generally fall under the category of feeling tired of having new versions of popular things pushed at me time and time again. A few others have to do with how murky and smudged out this movie looks compared to the 1989 hand-drawn feature.

What redeems the campaign to a large extent is how much Bailey is involved in taking the message directly to young girls, especially young girls of color. That’s a big part of the marketing and publicity, beginning with the backlash to her casting and going through various appearances and initiatives closer to release.

So much of the word of mouth around the movie has revolved around how there doesn’t seem to be a definitive reason for it to have been made given the 1989 version still exists. But that outreach to audiences that have been largely underserved – or unserved entirely – makes a strong case for an update.

fast x – marketing recap

How Universal Pictures has sold the latest in a massively-ridiculous franchise

Fast X movie poster from Universal Pictures
Fast X movie poster from Universal Pictures

Before we begin recapping the marketing campaign for this week’s big new theatrical release it once more needs to be stipulated that, with the exception of Hobbs & Shaw, I’ve not seen any of the Fast and/or Furious films. A scene here and there has crossed my radar but that’s about it. And I’m doing just fine.

With that out of the way, we’re here to look at the campaign for Fast X, the latest film in the series that’s now been going on for 22 years, five more than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Once more the story that began with a bunch of street racers sidelining as thieves hawking stolen DVD plays grows more outrageous, this time with those drivers getting involved in international espionage after being blamed for an explosion at the Vatican. Of course the theme of the story is about family and what it means to be in one, whether because of blood or friendship.

Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, John Cena and others from the earlier movies return along with newcomers Brie Larson, Scott Eastwood and Jason Momoa, the latter playing the film’s villain who bears a personal grudge against Diesel’s Dom.

Dan Mazeau and Justin Lin wrote the screenplay and Louis Leterrier directed, so let’s fire up the nitrous and take a look at how it’s been sold.

announcement and casting

Everyone knew the movie was happening – Lin and others even commented on it during the F9 marketing and publicity – but it wasn’t until August 2021 when Universal officially gave it a release date.

In mid-April Universal announced the beginning of production on the film and revealed the official title, one that was met with lots of gags about the treatment’s similarity to both the X-Men movies and to things like Jason X as well as the franchise’s inability to stick with a cohesive numbering scheme.

Larson joined the cast in early April and Momoa later that month.

Those additions were followed by a subtraction as Lin exited the film in late April, reportedly over creative conflicts with Diesel. Leterrier was named the new director a week or so later, picking up a production that was already halfway complete.

The casting of both Eastwood and Moreno came in May 2022. A month later it was among the movies Universal talked up to attendees of CineEurope. Perry joined the film in January.

Rodriguez talked about the impact Leterrier had when he joined the production and Momoa commented on joining the series while he was promoting “See” last year.

the marketing campaign: first gear

At the end of this past January a poster dropped promising audiences “The end of the road begins” while showing Dom clutching a rosary. That copy indicates this installment is *almost* the last in the series but that we’re only really at the start of the last chapter.

That was followed by a series of videos with highlights from the first nine movies, all meant to show how the story has been building to this point and how it really is all about family.

The ensemble cast of the film was shown off in a video where they all get out of a race car and look very serious.

The trailer (38m YouTube plays) was finally released, but in usual franchise fashion it wasn’t just dropped willy-nilly online but introduced at a massive event in Los Angeles in early February. In the trailer itself we see that Reyes (Momoa) is coming after Dom and his crew because he wronged him years ago and is seeking revenge. Other highlights include:

  • Dom smashing two helicopters behind him after he launches his car out of a transport plane
  • Jakob (Cena) firing missiles out of two launchers crudely attached to the sides of his car
  • Reyes not being able to look at anyone unless his head is tilted down so he has to look out the tops of his eyes
  • Flashback footage from earlier films with the late Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner working with Dom

There were lots of interviews and such from that trailer event, including Leterrier talking about the harried circumstances under which he joined the film halfway through.

A commercial that aired during the Super Bowl broadcast shortly after that cut the trailer down to its most essential elements. Right around the same time Diesel appeared at the NBA All Star Draft to open the event and hype up the movie.

The theatrical poster released in mid-March puts Dom at the center of a collage of all the characters, cars and locations, all of which is framed within a big “X”.

There was a very short featurette that has Diesel and everyone else talking about coming together once again and how it’s really all about family.

TV spots began airing in earnest (the only time that word can be used when discussing these movies) in early April, continuing to pull out some of the biggest sequences to highlight while also offering time for Dom to brood and sound solemn. There was one specifically for the NBA Playoffs featuring Bronny James, a good chance to once more stress the importance of family.

Another featurette has everyone involved talking about how this one ups the ante on all fronts even more than the previous installments and how great it was to have some of the new faces around.

The studio sponsored livestreams of performances from Coachella in mid-April.

the marketing campaign: second gear

With a month to go before the movie came out, a couple rounds of character posters had each of the major players staring out over the top of a steering wheel.

The second trailer (28m YouTube plays) features a bit more story than the first, opening with Reyes framing them for a massive bomb that rolls through Vatican City before going off. Dom then has to assemble lots of his current and former compatriots to help save his son who’s been kidnapped and clear their name.

Momoa and others give the audience some background on who Dante Reyes is, as well as why Momoa wanted to join the franchise, in a featurette.

Universal showed off the movie during its CinemaCon presentation at the end of April, with Diesel and others from the cast appearing on stage to talk about their love not only for this series but also the theaters it will be shown in.

We get a recap of the relationship between Dom and Letty as yet another setup for the stakes of this movie’s story.

Additional featurettes cover the father/son dynamic between Dom and his son “Little B”, shooting those key sequences in Rome, more about filming in Rome, the additions of Cena and Larson, the process of filming the fistfight between Letty and Cipher (Charlize Theron) and how the “ball bomb rolls through Rome” footage was mapped out and shot.

More sports-related promotions came in early May as Diesel and Rodriguez made an appearance at a Formula 1 race in Miami and those watching the Kentucky Derby on NBC or Peacock got a look at exclusive footage from the film.

An extended “final” trailer (7m YouTube plays) came out just earlier this week, pretty much compiling lots of the footage we’ve previously seen in trailers, TV spots, clips and other media.

Everyone turned out for the premiere, held appropriately in Rome. That kicked off the international media tour with additional stops in Mexico, New Zealand and elsewhere before concluding in L.A., where Ludacris was joined by some of his costars at his Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony.

At the Rome event Diesel hinted that this was just the first in a two-part story to be concluded in the 11th film in a couple years, though the director and studio have been more vague about those plans.

There were also a bevy of stories about the whirlwind process of Leterrier coming on as director, something that apparently went from “inquiry” to “he’s landing and on his way to the set” in a matter of hours. He was also interviewed about securing some of the cameos seen in the film and more.


The $60 million projected for the movie’s domestic opening weekend is overshadowed by the $280 million it’s expected to bring in globally, showing that this campaign hasn’t changed many minds or done much to attract new interest here in the U.S. but it has successfully triggered awareness overseas, and that’s what really matters.

From the moment it kicked off, the marketing has been all

And there’s plenty here about the cars and how the focus is still on characters wanting to

But really, isn’t it all about

white men can’t jump (2023) – marketing recap

How 20th Century Studios has sold the remake of a 90’s comedy classic

White Men Can't Jump movie poster from Hulu and 20th Century Studios with Sinqua Walls and Jack Harlow
White Men Can’t Jump movie poster from Hulu and 20th Century Studios

White Men Can’t Jump, out this week on Hulu, stars Sinqua Walls and Jack Harlow as Kamal and Jeremy, respectively. Those are different characters than those played by Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson in the 1992 original, but the premise is largely the same.

Kamal is a hotshot on the neighborhood basketball court, earning extra cash by winning games while Jeremy hustles his opponents who bet on him not being able to play at their level on account of his being white. The two figure out there’s more money to be made by combining their talents. Teyana Taylor and Laura Harrier play Imani and Tatiana, the girlfriends of Imani and Jeremy.

The film was directed by Calmatic from a screenplay by Kenya Barris and Doug Hall, with those two collaborating on the story with Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed the original movie.

So despite the assumption there will be significantly fewer day-glo hats and pastel tank tops featured, let’s take a look at how it’s been sold.

announcement and casting

The movie was announced in late November 2021 with Calmatic directing, though Barris had reportedly been working on the project for a number of years prior to that.

Harlow and Walls were both cast in the lead roles in early 2022, followed shortly by most of the supporting cast, including Lance Reddick in what was to become one of his last screen performances.

the marketing campaign

The marketing of the film began in early February on an odd note, with a TV spot style video that didn’t do a lot to introduce us to the specific characters or premise but did establish that we were in an updated version of WMCJ, with new conversations and attitudes but the same basic dynamics in place.

In mid-April the studio held a special screening along with a Q&A featuring Calmatic and Walls.

Harlow was interviewed in May about taking on his first acting role and the work he did to prepare for the audition.

The first trailer (3.6m YouTube plays) came out about that time and starts with Jeremy hustling Kamal for a few hundred dollars. Both of them are having money problems and getting pressure from their girlfriends about having a more stable future, so teaming up for a big tournament to win the prize money seems like a good solution. First they need to get the entry fee, so there’s a lot of hustling to do and basketball to play as the unlikely pair begin to begrudgingly respect each other.

The poster that came out along with the trailer simply shows the two main characters without any copy about the story or other context. It’s just the two of them, the title and the release date.

Kamal and Jeremy debate who our greatest living filmmaker is in the first clip, released at the beginning of May. Another clip shows someone arriving at one of their games with a flamethrower, which seems like an extreme reaction.

The next poster just shifts the camera and poses of the characters a bit but maintains the same basic idea as the first one-sheet, just with “Play hard. Hustle harder.” added as copy.

Another commercial/online video recapped the elements of the story and characters.

The director and members of the cast took part in a “Hoop Bus” event at Venice Beach where attendees to compete in various basketball challenges and find exclusive movie merchandise and more.

That was followed by red carpets premieres and screenings in both Los Angeles and New York City, with most of the talent involved appearing at both events. Harlow and others talked about working with the late Reddick and more.

Calmatic explains in a featurette that the premise of this movie is the same as the original but the story is brand new while the cast shares who their characters are and what motivates them.


What strikes me from the campaign as a whole is how uninterested it is in introducing us to the characters or explaining much about the story. It 100% relies on the audience knowing what the basic premise is going to be based on the title alone while working to convey an attitude instead of anything substantial.

That’s fine in and of itself. At the very least it’s a legitimate tactic to take. But then don’t make claims to this being anything all that original and own that it’s an updating of a familiar story in the same way that Richard III can be shifted forward and set in World War I.

Aside from those quibbles, it looks like a fun retelling of the story, just with a different sort of chemistry than was seen between Snipes and Harrelson and in a vastly different cultural context.

the mother – marketing recap

How Netflix has sold a family-based action drama

The Mother poster with Jennifer Lopez from Netflix
The Mother poster from Netflix

Niki Caro directs this week’s new Netflix release The Mother, written by Misha Green, Peter Craig and Andrea Berloff. The movie stars Jennifer Lopez as a character known simply as The Mother, an assassin who has been hiding out but who is forced to reemerge when the daughter she gave up years ago (played by Lucy Paez) is threatened.

Joseph Fiennes, Gael García Bernal, Omari Hardwick and others also appear in the film, which is part of the post-Wick slate of cinematic stories with big stars playing very dangerous people, usually loners, in action movies.

So with all that in mind let’s look at how Netflix has sold it to the general audience.

announcement and casting

The movie was announced in early 2021 with Lopez attached to star, Caro to direct and Netflix already agreeing to distribute. Most of the rest of the cast was added toward the end of that year as production was getting underway.

Netflix released a behind-the-scenes still of Lopez filming in October 20021.

A small bit of footage was included in Netflix’s 2022 preview of its upcoming feature films.

the marketing campaign

In September 2022 a teaser trailer (2.3m YouTube plays) came out that begins by showing The Mother surviving on her own in a remote wilderness cabin by using the skills she has. It then cuts to her talking with her daughter, who is being hunted by equally dangerous people.

That teaser includes the May 2023 release date in the description but also ends with a more vague “Coming soon” title card.

Fast forward to January 2023 when the movie was once more included in the streamer’s sizzle reel of upcoming original movies.

For as early as that teaser trailer was, the official trailer (8m YouTube plays) wasn’t released until just this past April, only a month before the scheduled release date. This time we start in the past and see how The Mother’s baby was taken from her at birth, told the best way to protect it was to stay away. Years later the girl is targeted by the same bad people The Mother honked off long ago and she has to jump back into action to save the daughter who doesn’t know her at all and teach her to survive.

A poster was released at the same time that shares the title and release date with a photo of The Mother in a hooded parka, a rifle draped on her back and ready for action.

In a short post on Netflix’s Tudum site, Caro shared how Lopez’s dance training helped her dive right into the stunt work needed for the film. That coincided with a behind-the-scenes featurette on the story and how Lopez worked hard to embody the character she plays.

Lopez appeared in a silly video filled with messages from fans via social media about how they want her to be their mom. She also did one of those challenges to see if she could identify which of her earlier movies a quote came from.

She and Paez appeared on “Today” to talk about the movie and the bond they formed while filming and by herself on “The View” to talk about the stunt training and action sequences as well as the story of the film.

While everyone involved turned out for the L.A. red carpet premiere earlier this week the focus of course was on Lopez and husband Ben Affleck.


The campaign is fine, with the scale similar to other marketing pushes from Netflix for their feature films. And the story is communicated effectively if not in an overly-compelling manner. But it also relies *heavily* on simply selling Lopez as the main attraction, sometimes at the expense of that story or other elements more specific to the movie.

guardians of the galaxy vol. 3 – marketing recap

How Marvel Studios has sold the capper to its space-faring super hero trilogy

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 movie poster from Marvel Studios
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 movie poster from Marvel Studios

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that in 2014 few people would have expected Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to be hitting theaters almost a decade later. Expectations for the first movie were kept low, with lots of talk about it being Marvel’s “first comedy” (a designation also applied to Ant-Man a year later) and how it featured a group of heroes so far from the A List they’d only heard about it in stories. But Marvel Studios needed a group of characters to expand the universe to outer space and the Guardians fit the bill.

After coming together in the first movie and exploring lots of daddy issues in the second, this week’s installment sees the unlikely team needing to protect one of their own from the consequences of their previous actions. The actual plot may be too convoluted to fully encapsulate, so here’s the official synopsis:

Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him to defend the universe along with protecting one of their own. A mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.

In addition to writer/director James Gunn (more on that below) all the main cast is back, including Chris Pratt as Quill, Zoe Saldaña as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Vin Diesel as Groot, Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Sean Gunn as Kraglin while the combo of Gunn and Bradley Cooper provide the motion capture for and voice of Rocket, respectively. Joining the story this time around are Will Poulter as Adam Warlock, sent to destroy the Guardians for their crimes and Chukwudi Iwuji as The High Evolutionary, who figures into Rocket’s origins and who the team has to outwit to help their comrade.

So with all that established let’s take a look at how the movie has been sold.

announcement and casting

Things got off to a rocky start when, in mid-July of 2018, Disney abruptly fired director James Gunn, who had been working on the script and other aspects of pre-production. That came after a campaign by right-wing trolls and assholes brought up old Tweets published by Gunn that were certainly offensive but which were old news. The same posts had come up years before the first GotG movie and Gunn had apologized for them, but with this renewed push – spurred by his outspoken criticism of President Trump – Disney almost immediately folded and showed these cultural terrorists they would achieve whatever ends they desired.

The backlash from fans as well as the stars of the movies and other celebrities was swift for just that reason, often pointing out that Gunn had grown much more aware in the years since those posts. The consensus (rightly) was that firing him for old material like this sent the signal that improving yourself wasn’t worth it, so why bother? Disney later confirmed after a few weeks of back-and-forth that no, he would not be returning. All of that lead to a delay in production starting.

So it was relatively surprising when, in the middle of March of 2019, Disney reversed course and announced Gunn was returning to the director’s position. Apparently someone decided that caving to right-wing trolls making bad faith arguments wasn’t a sustainable business model.

During the promotional cycle for Brightburn, Gunn was finally interviewed about that whole situation and how things transpired, including how the cast all reached out both publicly and personally to show their support.

In early 2020, as many films were being delayed and productions shut down, Gunn assured fans things were still on schedule and there shouldn’t be any problems with filming.

During Disney’s December 2020 investors presentation the news was announced that before the movie came out a “Guardians Holiday Special” directed by Gunn would premiere on Disney+.

The movie, along with other upcoming MCU entries, was name-checked in the “Marvel Studios Celebrates The Movies” video from early May.

Gillan spoke briefly about the movie during the Gunpowder Milkshake publicity cycle.

Poulter was cast as Adam Warlock in October 2021.

A month later Gunn shared a photo marking the beginning of filming.

the marketing campaign: volume one

In July 2022 fans at San Diego Comic-Con got a look at the first footage from the film, including what seems to be background on Rocket’s origins and more. That was part of the panel where members of the cast and crew appeared and a release date announced, with Gunn also confirming this was the end of the story for this particular cast of characters. He also later clarified that the trailer wasn’t released online for the general public because the special effects weren’t ready just yet and wouldn’t hold up to repeated viewings.

With Gunn making it clear the story of this team was coming to an end it seemed the cast was ready to put this stage of their careers behind them as well. Saldaña, while she was promoting Avatar: The Way of Water at the end of 2022, said she was eager to not have to go through the daily makeup process again and had other “bitter” feelings about the filming of this movie. Later on while he was promoting Knock at the Cabin Bautista promised he would never return to the character of Drax after this film lest it tarnish the character as a cynical cash grab.

Those attitudes were largely understandable given that while this is just the third movie of their own, they’ve played these characters in three or four other MCU movies in that time. And you could kind of tell everyone was just phoning it in when the “Holiday Special” hit Disney+ at the end of November, itself preceded by a full campaign of press interviews, live events, posters and more.

A few more new stills were included in an interview of Gunn talking about the story, his nervousness around making the third in a trilogy and more, including leaving the series as he becomes the head of Warner Bros.’ DC development.

the marketing campaign: volume two

The campaign for the movie itself began in early December of last year when the first trailer (29.1m YouTube plays) was released. It opens with what looks like the Guardians returning to Earth, but when they land it’s inhabited by what look like human-animal hybrids. From there we get brief glimpses of the High Evolutionary and Adam Warlock but the focus is on hinting that the story is about exploring Rocket’s origins along with the usual wackiness the team is known for along with lots of brooding and a bit of sadness along the way.

The poster released simultaneously shows the Guardians standing on the wing of their ship. It’s not much but communicates the bare essentials of the marketing message, that there’s a new movie coming out.

Both of the above were formally unveiled when Saldaña appeared at Brazil Comic-Con to get fans there excited about the movie.

Another trailer (15m YouTube plays) was released in mid-February begins by making sure everyone is up to speed on the story so far, especially the romance between Star-Lord and Gamorra, which was interrupted by her being killed in Avengers: Infinity War and essentially replaced by her past self. The actual story is still not explained in any sort of detail but we see a bit more of High Evolutionary and his megalomania along with the fact that everyone seems to be in the mood for wrapping up their arcs and summarizing their feelings about everyone else.

The Guardians are seen a bit more clearly on the next poster, which has them all kind of staring off into the middle distance, each in a slightly different direction.

As part of Women’s History Month in March, Disney+ released “MPower,” a propaganda film documentary about the female characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe produced by Saldaña.

TV spots began running at the beginning of March as tickets went on sale, each hitting slightly different moments but all covering the same basic ideas of the story wrapping up and Rocket somehow being at the center of an emotional story.

A variation on the latest key art was used in early April on a poster announcing an exclusive IMAX event featuring the first to GotG movies ending with an early screening of this third film.

That was followed by a round of exhibitor-exclusive posters from IMAX, RealD 3D, 4DX, Dolby, ScreenX and Fandango. The ScreenX art was the best because it takes a more original approach by not only being vertically-oriented but showing Rocket reenacting the “evolution of man” progression. A number of them did focus on Rocket or at least bring him to the front of the team lineup to make it clear he was going to be the lead in the story.

A series of character posters – including one for Cosmo the Spacedog – came next.

The cast along with Gunn and Marvel Studio’s Kevin Feige all appear in a featurette expounding on the fun they had making this final installment of the series and how all three films have been about the chosen family the characters made for themselves.

Empire Magazine published an interview with Gunn that included more photos, especially of Adam Warlock and other new elements of the movie.

Marvel set up a Knowhere pop up story/experience in California in the same area as and at the same time as Coachella to take advantage of all the hip young people headed to the music festival, encouraging them to stop in and take a look at props and costumes from the movie along with new swag and products.

The first clip from mid-April has Quill trying to convince Past Gamora to maybe herself up to the same romance he and Present Gamora had before she died, which is supposed to be endearing but is just embarrassing.

Another featurette has everyone reminiscing on the decade-long journey they’ve taken with these characters.

An extended TV spot takes a similar approach, using footage from the first two movies to setup this story.

The next clip shows some of the other animals High Evolutionary has been experimenting on in a flashback to Rocket’s early days. That clip also served as the news Linda Cardellini was voicing one of those characters.

Gunn and members of the cast embarked on the international publicity tour, kicking off in Seoul and continuing in Paris and other locations.

In additional to sponsoring the Discover Weekly playlist for a while, the studio launched its own K-GOTG Radio playlist on Spotify featuring some of the popular tunes featured in all three of the movies.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Spotify Discover Weekly sponsorship banner featuring poster art of the cast
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Spotify Discover Weekly sponsorship

The drama involving Gunn’s unceremonious firing from the movie in 2018 and the efforts by the entire cast to get him back on board along with more from the last 10 years going all the way back to the original casting process were covered in a THR cover story.

Everyone turned out for the official L.A. red carpet premiere at the end of April and looked back on their time together and how the future likely doesn’t involve them playing these characters again but that they all enjoyed working together and hope to do so again soon.

Pratt, Gillian, Gunn and the others all participated in additional interviews, talk show appearances and other press stops in the last couple weeks leading up to release, not really covering any new ground but reiterating stories they’d already told and commenting on making the final film in this unexpected trilogy. Breaking out of that mold was an interview with Iwuji where he talks about joining the series at the end and is praised by Gunn.


Marvel does kind of need the movie to open at the projected $120m level this weekend, even if that’s below the opening weekend of the second film in 2017, to stop “super hero fatigue” from entrenching in the public psyche. More than that, it needs the movie to not drop 70% like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania did a couple months ago.

The focus on the emotional nature of the series ending comes off as *very* forced given these were characters we were actively reminded not to actually root for and who are consistently portrayed as just the worst. These are awful “heroes” but the assumption seems to be that we’ve grown attached to them and are going to be incredibly sad when they stop appearing in movies.

Other random thoughts:

  • There’s an alternate universe where Sean Gunn was given the chance to play Star-Lord and honestly I wish we lived in that one.
  • Congratulations, Marvel, on finding not one but two ways to underuse Linda Cardellini.
  • Wait, so we get a two hours on the early days of Rocket’s creation but at no point in the MCU has Hawkeye’s backstory even been hinted at or referenced? This is my super villain origin story.
  • This is just the latest super hero/sci-fi movie to cast an actor of color but cast them as the villain, hide them under layers of real or digital makeup or both.

are you there god? it’s me, margaret – marketing recap

How Lionsgate has sold a long-awaited coming-of-age adaptation

There are few authors more beloved and legendary than the great Judy Blume, and this week one of her best-known works comes to the big screen with Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Abby Ryder Fortson stars as Margaret, the centerpiece of the story. Margaret is the daughter of Barbara (Rachel McAdams) and Herb (Benny Safdie) and has just been moved by them from New York to the suburbs of New Jersey. That comes at the same time she’s questioning everything about her life, from religion to friends, and as she’s getting older and having new experiences that were unimaginable just a short while ago. Kathy Bates also costars as Sylvia, Margaret’s grandmother who has remained behind in New York City.

The movie is written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and retains the 1960s/70s setting of the original book so let’s look at how Lionsgate has sold this adaptation of a perennial favorite, which for decades was also one of the most frequently challenged at libraries because it deals with puberty and related topics.

announcements and casting

Things started off in a big way when Lionsgate announced in March of 2020 it had acquired the rights to the book after a significant bidding war given how long Blume held back those rights. Nearly a year later Fortson and McAdams were announced as leading the cast. Bates and Safdie joined shortly after that.

McAdams was given the Vanguard Award at CinemaCon 2022, speaking there about what audiences could expect when the movie hit theaters.

the marketing campaign

It was mid-January when the marketing campaign kicked off with the release of the trailer (19.3m YouTube plays). It starts off by reminding everyone just how iconic the source book is and how we’re finally getting a big-screen version. After we meet Margaret we see just how difficult her preteen life is at the moment and how she yearns to just be normal, something no 11 year old is. Her parents are doing the best they can to not completely embarrass her but they’re dealing with their own stuff. So Margaret tries to make friends and fit in while navigating the increasingly complicated world around her.

Lionsgate brought much of the cast and crew, including Blume and producer James L. Brooks, to events celebrating the launch of that trailer in New York City and Los Angeles. A new movie-themed cover for the novel was also revealed at that time.

The poster that came out shows Margaret all on her own, standing against a wall and looking to the heavens for answers. Along with that visual are lots of reminders about the book’s cultural status and that the movie comes from the director of The Edge of Seventeen to help solidify its coming-of-age credentials.

Another poster was released at the end of February that expands the focus to include not only Margaret but also her mother and grandmother, the earlier generations of women who will help Margaret figure out her own situation.

There was a major push in early March to coincide with International Women’s Day. On social media fans were asked to share their own #MargaretMoments and a bus tour took place in New York City to bring the movie to the general public.

Craig did the majority of the press in this phase of the campaign, appearing on podcasts and doing other Q&As to talk about the responsibility of handling such precious material, working with the cast and more. Blume was out there talking about finally allowing the story to be told on film and giving the finished product her seal of approval, which isn’t nothing.

The author was even included in Variety’s Power of Women feature reflecting on her career and continuing to hype the movie. Later on she was named to Time’s list of 2023’s most influential individuals.

With less than a month to go before release Lionsgate started prompting people to share musical memories.

A handful of early screening events, many with some combination of Craig, Blume, McAdams, Fortson and others in attendance, were held in cities across the country to help build word of mouth.

A fun little video of Marge Simpson sharing her own memories of reading the book came out in early-April, no doubt the result of James L. Brooks being one of the producers of the movie.

An early screening event was announced in early April and scheduled for a week before the film’s general release.

Brooks took part in a roundtable with the other major players where Blume recounts why she finally felt her book would be in good hands with this team.

TV spots started running in earnest around this time, many like this one that used footage from the trailer but also added in some scenes previously unseen in the campaign.

The first clip shows the moment Margaret learns she’s moving from her childhood home out to New Jersey. Another features the scene of Margaret and her mother going shopping for her first bra.

Craig wrote in Empire about the experience adapting Blume’s book and why she felt so passionate about the project. There were also stories about how Blume is so legendary for addressing periods at a time when they were not widely discussed and on how Craig tackles the subject for the movie.

The studio marketing department mocked up some fun faux advertisements for things like “the telephone” and training bras using stills from the film.

The official gold carpet premiere was held in Los Angeles last week with the cast and other players in attendance.

There were additional interviews with Craig and profiles of McAdams, the latter focusing in part on how it’s been a minute since the actor had a juicy role to really dig into. Fortson was also profiled twice about the movie and how it’s a big deal for such a role to be her on-screen introduction. There were even a couple stories about the long-running attempts to pull the books from libraries.

Much like the screenings, the cast and crew appeared in various grouping on talk shows to hype up the movie and encourage fans to not worry their beloved book has been ruined.


As hinted at above, it’s so good to see McAdams in a role allowing her to be as good as she actually is, unlike her MCU appearances. And there is no bad when it comes to Bates and others in the cast.

Blume has to be commended for going out so frequently to help sell the movie and settle any audience concerns about the book being ruined by the filmmakers. That’s a big deal given her status in popular culture and how important she’s been to generations of young (and old) readers of any gender.

What keeps rattling around in my head, though, is that the movie is coming out at a time when shady rightwing astroturf organizations masquerading as parents’ groups around the country are trying to get books pulled from library shelves. Today it’s about “woke” subject matter like slavery, gender identity etc, but for decades it was books about puberty that didn’t gloss over the topic, especially when it was girls’ stories being told.

So it’s a good time to remember that not only are stories like this important, but that they’re important for everyone to read, which is why libraries in general are so vital in how they provide free access to books of all kinds to everyone.

picking up the spare

More from Craig about her personal connection to the story and the material included in it as well as the pressure of creating a new version of something so beloved. 

Fortson appeared on “Kimmel” to talk about this, her first movie. And Blume appeared on “The Tonight Show” to continue promoting the film.

you got your consumer product in my movie!

I’m certainly not the first to notice the latest micro-trend in movie releases. Much like those weird moments in history where there was an odd influx of movies about volcanoes, Earth-shattering asteroids etc, there’s been a recent wave of films about consumer products. More specifically, these movies are about the creation or marketing of those products.

Consider that in the last month movies like Air and Tetris have told the stories of how Nike developed the Air Jordan sneaker and how a video game executive secured the rights to what would become the most popular video game ever, respectively. And on the release schedule over the next few months are both Blackberry, about the development of the first mass consumer email/phone combo, and Flamin’ Hot, about the (possibly apocryphal) creation of the Cheetos flavor white Midwesterners consider “too ethnic.”

Bring It What GIF by AIR Movie - Find & Share on GIPHY

Note that these movies and their stories are distinct from films like The Lego Movie and the upcoming Barbie, that are indeed about consumer products but treat the subject matter as the foundation for an original story instead of being about the product itself.

At Vox, Alissa Wilkinson pegs these and other similar recent movies as part of a focus on entrepreneurs – specifically the entrepreneurs that emerged victorious – as opposed to the obsession with scammers and con artists that was prevalent a couple years ago, resulting in movies like I Care A Lot, series like “Inventing Anna”, “We Crashed” and others that glorified people whose morals were lacking but whose success apparently justified whatever damage they did along the way.

That may certainly be part of it, and it’s a shift that likely has at least something to do with the state of the U.S. economy at the moment. Movies about hustlers and scammers may be more popular and desirable during downturns because the audience is already convinced the system is rigged against them so “hurray” to those who got theirs regardless of the tactics. But when things are looking a bit better we want to focus on the legitimate business people because we’re feeling a bit more confident that hey, if we work hard and have a good idea that might be us.

Another factor that may be in play with this spate of stories about men in suits engaging in business is that we live in a brand-centric media world.

Movies, TV series and other media based on existing IP and brands are safe bets for big, debt-ridden companies to make because theoretically they come with a built-in audience and tend to perform well both domestically and outside the U.S. But those can’t be the *only* stories that are told.

So the hope is that, if a compelling story can be found somewhere, media based on well known consumer products may be the next best thing. They have a lot of the same advantages as adapting a video game for a limited series or building a movie franchise around a popular comic book character.

Primarily, existing awareness of the product itself can be activated in service of the movie or other media. That’s especially powerful if the product being featured is involved in the production or has at least given its blessing to the project.

Consider how much of the Tetris marketing was done not by Apple, which produced the movie, but by the company that owns Tetris itself. Or how much of Air’s marketing was an overt gesture in the direction of sneakerheads that have kept new Air Jordan models selling well despite its namesake having retired as a player decades ago. It’s similar to how biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody, The Dirt and others were produced in partnership with the current or surviving band members.

In essence these movies are not standalone objects, they are extended marketing efforts for the consumer products – including bands – whose origins are being told. Bohemian Rhapsody resulted in a massive increase in interest around Queen and its catalog, surely part of the calculus around its production. Mötley Crüe saw the same kind of spike following its biopic and used that renewed buzz to sell its catalog a couple years later. Expectations were that Air would have a similar impact on sneaker sales based on the interest in new shoes released around the release of “The Last Dance” documentary series in 2020.

Rami Malek Queen GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now obviously there are exceptions to this consumer-centric production approach. There aren’t any new Blackberrys hitting shelves. And given the contested nature of the story told in Flamin’ Hot it’s doubtful Frito-Lay will make much of an effort to draw attention to the movie.

That doesn’t mean those and other movies weren’t greenlit by respective studios at least in part because the subject matter is easily understood by the audience because they’re already familiar with the products themselves. Now the hope is they want to hear, in the words of Paul Harvey, the rest of the story.

quasi – marketing recap

How Searchlight Pictures has sold the latest comedy from the Super Troopers gang

Quasi movie poster featuring the Broken Lizard comedy troupe from Searchlight Pictures and Hulu
Quasi movie poster from Searchlight Pictures

The Broken Lizard troupe is back with this week’s Quasi, now available on Hulu. This time around the target of the troupe’s comedy isn’t local law enforcement or quirky seafood restaurant workers but Victor Hugo’s classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Steve Lemme plays Quasi Modo, a hunchback who tortures prisoners of the King of France (Jay Chandrasekhar) along with his friend Duchamp (Kevin Heffernan). Quasi becomes embroiled in the machinations of both King Guy and the visiting Pope Cornelius (Paul Soter) while also getting the attention of Queen Catherine (Adrianne Palicki), all of which leads to misunderstandings, murderous plots and other hijinks.

All the Broken Lizard members, including Erik Stolhanske, play multiple roles in the film and Heffernan, as he’s done before, directs from a screenplay written by the entire gang. It also costars many of the actors Heffernan and Lemme have worked with on the show “Tacoma FD.” So with all that setup let’s take a look at how it was sold prior to its appropriately-timed release on 4/20.

announcement and casting

The movie was announced by Broken Lizard in November, 2021 with Searchlight Pictures signing on to produce and distribute through Hulu. Production was already complete at that point, so the announcement included assurance that all the troupe members were appearing and that Palicki had joined as well.

the marketing campaign

“Every day is hump day” we’re told on the poster released in mid-March. The design of the one-sheet isn’t meant to communicate much of anything about the movie’s story. Instead it’s basically just a group shot of the Broken Lizard team, including Palicki, in costume to let the audience know they have a new comedy coming out soon.

The trailer (300,000 YouTube plays) came out at the same time. It starts out by showing how petty King Guy is before introducing us to Quasi and Duchamp, who are getting psyched for Pope Week, the upcoming visit from His Holiness. When Quasi wins a private audience with the Pope, which sets everything off and leads to murder, romance, more murder and maybe redemption for Quasi in the eyes of everyone who despises him.

Various members of the cast made appearances at sporting events to try and raise awareness and interest among general audiences. That included an Anaheim Ducks game, a NASCAR race, a Cubs game and more.

Fan screenings in a handful of cities were scheduled for the weeks leading up to release, with the cast showing up for in-person Q&As. Those frequently coincided with talk show or local news appearances by one or more of the cast as well.

A TV commercial released just days before the movie came out more clearly explains the plot by showing how Quasi is approached by both The Pope and King Guy to kill the other one. That’s very different from the trailer, which spends most of its time going for single laughs as opposed to sharing anything about the story itself.

The tension between The Pope and King Guy is on display in a brief clip showing them taking verbal potshots at each other over dinner.

Another clip shows Quasi and Duchamp walking through the village, the latter trying to cheer up the former.

Chandrasekhar was interviewed about the group’s comedy and how the movies they produce are “stoner comedies” not in the sense there’s a lot of pot smoking in the films themselves but they were all certainly written at least partially under the influence.

Everyone involved turned out for the Los Angeles premiere of the film on 4/20.


The Broken Lizard style of comedy is certainly not for everyone but I’m all like

Come At Me Here We Go GIF by Searchlight Pictures - Find & Share on GIPHY

So if you ask me if the marketing here works for me personally I will admit

Sorry Paul Soter GIF by Searchlight Pictures - Find & Share on GIPHY

Which means it’s all good here.

picking up the spare

Searchlight released a featurette on the making of the movie that had the cast making it seem a lot more important and artistic than it actually is.

ghosted – marketing recap

How Apple has sold an action romance that flips expectations

Ana De Armas and Chris Evans on the movie poster for Ghosted from Apple TV+
Ghosted movie poster from Apple TV+

For the third time in the last five years Ana de Armas and Chris Evans star together in a major motion picture, this time in Ghosted, out this week on Apple TV+. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, the movie has de Armas playing Sadie Rhodes, a young woman who Cole (Evans) meets when he’s traveling oversees. The two have an instant connection but after Cole returns home all his communications with her go unanswered. So he hops a plane to London in hopes of finding her but soon discovers she’s a spy and he’s gotten himself mixed up in her very dangerous business.

It’s a nice play on the usual setup in movies like Knight & Day where the woman is the one who stumbles into the man’s high-stakes world of espionage and intrigue. And with Evans and de Armas bringing the chemistry they’ve developed in previous pairings it promises to be more than a little fun so let’s take a look at how Apple has sold it to the public.

announcement and casting

Evans and Scarlett Johansson were originally named as the movie’s leads when it was announced by Apple in August 2021 with Fletcher directing and Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick writing.

De Armas replaced Johansson when the latter had to drop out a few months later because of scheduling issues. Tim Blake Nelson, Amy Sedaris and others joined early in 2022 as production was getting underway.

the marketing campaign

We see the meet-cute of Sadie and Cole as the trailer (9.4m YouTube plays), released in early March, begins. They fall for each other and have a short lived romance before he has to return home, but Cole can’t stop thinking about her. Convinced she’s “the one” he travels back to London but his attempts to find her generate some very violent attention from other parties and she has to rescue him from kidnappers. From there on out they have to survive all kinds of dangerous situations together, with Sadie having to keep Cole out of trouble along the way.

There isn’t a whole lot going on on the poster that came out at the same time. But it does accurately sell the movie as featuring a couple very attractive stars, and placing Sadie on top of Cole communicates the unusual nature of the character dynamics.

The trailer is cut down to its essential elements in a TV spot that came out at the end of March, selling the film as an action-packed romantic comedy.

De Armas, Evans and others all attended the premiere of the movie earlier this week, talking about why they work so well together and what else audiences can expect from the film. The two leads also made a number of media appearances and gave other interviews, sometimes on their own and sometimes together to show off the banter they have down, including de Armas hosting “Saturday Night Live” last weekend.

A clip shows Cole being given a hard time by his family for how desperate he’s acting about this girl he met who’s now ghosted him.


As has become common for Apple TV+ originals, the campaign here isn’t huge but it certainly does make an impression, largely because Evans and de Armas are having so much fun together.

Even more than that, it’s *good* to see the stars embrace taking on a project that goes against norms to a significant extent. Not that there should be anything all that groundbreaking about a woman being the spy and the man being the slightly desperate partner, but there is and this is the perfect pair to pull something like this off.

picking up the spare

Additional interviews with Fletcher included commenting on some of those celebrity cameos and how they happened. Evans also talked about how he worked to not let his action star training come through in a role where he wasn’t that. 

Apple released both a making-of featurette and a blooper reel for the film.