The last movie that will ever open in 2020 comes out this week.
Bloodshot, based on the Valiant Comics series and character of the same name, hits theaters this weekend, just before the world as we know it comes to an end and after other studios have pulled a n number of big-name titles from the release calendar.
Initially expected, via tracking reports, to have an opening weekend of around $10 million, that number is likely to be much lower given the U.S. public is now quickly moving into full self-quarantine/social distancing mode. Heck, it’s not even clear if theaters are still going to be open this weekend.
Despite all that, the movie stars Vin Diesel as Ray Garrison, a soldier killed in battle who is brought back to life by a mysterious organization. Not only is he resurrected, advanced technology gives him incredible powers, including being able to heal himself from injury and massive strength. Given missions by his masters, Garrison – now codenamed Bloodshot – also sets out to find the man he believes murdered his wife. But his memories may not be trustworthy as he finds reality is much more complicated than it seems.
Sony’s campaign has made the most of Diesel’s limited dramatic range, using special effects to fill in the rest in an attempt to appeal to audiences.
Garrison is walking purposefully toward the camera on the first poster (by marketing agency BOND), released in January. You can see the character’s trademark glowing red chest symbol beneath his shirt, especially through what appear to be bullet holes. That symbol is reiterated visually behind him. At the top we’re told “You don’t need a past to have a future,” referencing the gaps in Bloodshot’s memory that fuel a lot of the story.
That same pose is used on the next poster (by marketing agency Art Machine), which adds a couple of the allies Bloodshot surrounds himself with to the background. This time the tagline reads “Being a super hero is in his blood.”, which isn’t quite as good as the first attempt.
Other posters, including one for IMAX, used variations on those themes, either showing Bloodshot on his own and up close or pulling the camera out to allow for the supporting characters and settings to be seen.
Of particular note is how some of the posters – especially the first one – make sure to call out that the movie is “Based on the best-selling comic book.” Many movies rooted in comics aren’t quite as clear in selling the source material, which is a real problem facing the comics industry, so it’s nice to see one that does so.
As many trailers about lone, angry men do, the trailer (11.6 million views on YouTube) for this movie, released in October of last year, opens by showing us how much Garrison loves his wife, who of course is a tall, leggy blonde. Cut to him waking up on a table to find out he died and has been brought back by a company that injected him with microscope organisms that make him stronger and heal injuries instantly. He takes off to find the man responsible for killing his wife, something that’s easier thanks to his healing abilities. Turns out, though, that the people who claim to be helping him are actually manipulating his memories to send him on assassination missions. When Garrison starts to put things together he sets his sights on them.
Online and Social
The landing page of the movie’s official website features the key art seen on the first poster, but that’s about as interesting as things get. It’s just the usual marketing materials shared here, lacking even a link or information on the source comic series.
Advertising and Promotions
Footage – and more importantly audio – from the movie was used in a promotional video by Dolby for its Atmos sound experience.
TV advertising began in early March with spots like this that boiled the sales pitch down to some cool special effects and a creepy bad guy. Similar videos were used for online and social media ads.
A first clip was given to Sony’s PlayStation division earlier this month showing the newly revived Garrison learning what he’s become a part of.
Sony announced last week this would be the latest title released in its new ICE immersive format.
The red carpet premiere was held earlier this week (before such events started getting canceled) and had all the stars and filmmakers in attendance. Diesel and others made sure to call out the comics the movie is based on to the audience both in person and online.
Another clip given to Fandango is all about the action, showing how Bloodshot can reconstitute himself after being seemingly injured.
A featurette released at the last minute has Diesel introducing the character to audiences.
Media and Press
The movie’s director and producer were interviewed around the time the first trailer came out, talking about the character and how they think audiences will react to him.
An interview with the lead actor had him establishing that not only could there be more Bloodshot movies but that this might act as the launching point for a shared universe of Valiant Comics characters. Another feature profile had him talking about this movie and lots more.
Director David S.F. Wilson was interviewed about how his experience with special effects helped him navigate his first helming effort.
As it stands, the campaign Sony mounted sells an utterly ridiculous, over-the-top science fiction action movie featuring an actor who makes damp drywall seem overly emotive. He’s very popular, but outside of the Fast Saga that popularity is somewhat questionable.
That’s why, while the star can’t exactly be hidden away in the marketing, he certainly seems to be taking a back seat to the special effects.
The biggest sword hanging over the movie is whether or not there’s any willingness among the public to go to the movies this weekend. On the one hand, this campaign offers some decent escapism from the massive chunks of detritus falling from the sky at the moment. On the other, any public gathering right now seems like asking to become a public health cautionary tale.
So we’ll see how things turn out. Whatever happens, Sony’s campaign is outlandish and ridiculous. Whether it works or not might be up to a tiny little virus.