I’ll be honest, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the first two installments in the Hotel Transylvania series. Where they could have been lazy toss offs that take a decent premise and deliver the least interesting take on it, director Genndy Tartakovsky and his crew have consistently delivered solidly entertaining animated comedies that are genuinely funny and original. Helping matters is that star Adam Sandler’s voice work as Dracula is his most interesting, committed performance ever, a stark contrast to his usual DGAF attitude.
Now Drac and the other monsters are back in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. This time around Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Johnny (Andy Samberg) have convinced Dracula and everyone else to head out on a cruise vacation. Little do they know the ship is captained by a descendant of Van Helsing, the famous vampire hunter, who’s out to complete her ancestor’s work. Things get complicated though when she and Dracula fall for each other.
The first two posters were the first indicators (at least that i was aware of) as to what the plot was. That came not only through the subtitle that was shown but in how on one Drac is shown wearing flip flops, his cape blowing to show he’s also sporting shorts and a floral print on the inside of that cape. The other has him in full Hawaiian regalia, his suitcases around him and a scowl on his face. That one also has the copy “Family vacation. It will suck the life out of you.” A third that came later shows Drac pulling his coffin-shaped luggage with stickers from places like the Bermuda Triangle all over it.
The whole gang is buried up to their necks on the theatrical poster, Dracula looking less than thrilled though everyone else seems to be having a good enough time. “He’s going to need a vacation after this vacation” is a tagline that seems designed more to resonate with the adults in the audience than the younger crowd.
The first trailer starts out by familiarizing the audience with Drac and his hotel before showing that Mavis has arranged for him and all the other regulars to take a cruise specially geared for monsters. He’s not thrilled about this, particularly when his father shows up.
It’s not all that detailed but gives the audience the basic idea of what they’ll be seeing in this installment in the franchise and assuring them it’s more of what they’ve already enjoyed.
When the official trailer opens Drac is looking for a date but having zero luck with apps and technology. Mavis convinces him to take a break and so the whole gang heads out on a cruise that offers plenty to do for everyone. Drac is resistant to give into efforts to set him up with someone until he sees Erika and is smitten. She has a secret, though, and is only getting close to him to exact generations-old revenge. Mavis is suspicious but Drac’s clueless.
That storyline isn’t explored in-depth by any means, nor are any of the others. A lot of the same gags from the teaser are repeated here with just enough of the plot shared to show people there is one.
Online and Social
There’s not much of interest on the official website, just the standard information like trailer, story recap, gallery and more. A few casual games lighten things up a bit, but overall this is just a standard minimal effort site.
A custom Snapchat filter unlocked a “Dancesylvania” dual lens
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
A brief TV spot was released on Valentine’s Day that showed all the different forms love can take.
Amazon, which partnered with Amazon to offer Prime members exclusive screenings two weeks before the general release, a stunt that netted the movie an early $1.3 million. That partnership also included adding a skill to Alexa that allowed users who asked about the movie to hear a bedtime story.
Media and Publicity
Sony, as it’s done for a few animated features recently, brought it to Cannes (out of competition) with a big publicity stunt meant to induce lots of social sharing. Right around that time the studio released an extended clip showing the assembled monsters on the flight they’re taking to their vacation destination. It later was part of the Annecy Animation Festival, where it received positive buzz and audience reaction and where Tartakovsky spoke about why he came back to the series.
If there was a massive press push in the final days before release, I can’t find it.
OK, cool. I like it. There’s something here for all audiences and it certainly sells the same tone and vibe as the previous two efforts. I don’t know if the love story with Drac is going to be a big incentive for younger crowds, but it also likely won’t hurt things. The main value proposition the movie has to offer, it seems, is that it’s not a super hero movie and could give people a little bit of a break while still offering a familiar property for them to enjoy relatively worry free.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.