How Disney is selling a family-room ticket to the room where it happened.
The story of how Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, became a Broadway sensation is already well-known. What seemed unlikely and unexpected achieved a level of success few others have, with the demand for tickets becoming something legendary. People shared their stories of scoring seats like they told stories of invading Normandy.
Now that hit musical, which has subsequently expanded outside New York City to similar enthusiasm and reception, is coming to living rooms everywhere as a filmed production with the original cast comes to Disney+.
In marketing the film, Disney has run a campaign that draws on the strongest, most recognizable elements of the stage production and the legend it has built up over the years. It’s not the year’s most robust campaign, but it presents an attractive reason to not just watch the film but also, importantly, subscribe to the streaming service.
The first poster came out in May and uses the same key art as the Broadway production, that of a bright gold background with a star in the middle and Hamilton raising his finger to the air as if defiantly making a point.
A month later a series of poster that used the same idea but swapped in different characters from the show at the top of the star came out. All feature the same “Experience the Original Broadway Production” tagline and details on its Disney+ debut.
Just a couple weeks ago the first trailer (2.4 million views on YouTube) came out, offering a brief glimpse of what audiences could expect, including those catchy tunes, a fully diverse cast and some great costumes. It doesn’t need to overstate its case because, at this point, if people aren’t going to fall all over themselves to experience it for themselves there’s not much more Disney could do.
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The movie, including all of the original Broadway cast, was announced by Disney in February of last year.
To the surprise of just about everyone, news came in May that the movie would go to Disney+ instead of theaters, a decision that seemed to be more about keeping the streaming service stocked with attractive content than anything else. The date announced was nearly a year earlier than had been originally expected. Conventional wisdom held that the shift was in part a reaction to the Covid-19 closing of theaters as well as productions, including those for shows planned for Disney+. In short, it presented an available and attractive piece of content for the service at a time when the buzz around it was beginning to die down due to a lack of high-profile viewing options.
The first clip was released last week, offering a brief glimpse at the show’s opening, an introduction to Hamilton’s backstory.
Another promo video played up the drama of the story while making it very clear you could experience all that exclusively on Disney+ in just a few days.
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Daveed Diggs spoke briefly about the movie and its early release on Disney+ when he was interviewed on “The Tonight Show” as part of his “Snowpiercer” publicity cycle.
Miranda acknowledged recently that a couple F-bombs from the show had been removed in order for it to pass under Disney+’s “PG-13 or lower” bar. He later talked about the film project on “The Tonight Show.”
An interview with Leslie Odom Jr. had him revisiting his first experiences with the production before it went to Broadway and sharing what it felt like to see it come to the masses now.
The cast reunited virtually with members of The Roots to perform “Helpless” as part of an online fundraiser.
There’s not a whole lot to say here. If you aren’t humming along to the songs shared in the clips and trailers, it’s possible you’re dead inside. So it succeeds in creating all the “OMG I finally get to see what literally everyone has been talking about for years” feels in the audience.
The campaign is actually a bit more robust than what Netflix has run for similar offerings like Oh Hello: On Broadway and other stage-to-screen translations. It promises to bring you all the same experiences – the laughter, the tears, the heartbreak, the hope – those who saw it in person had, but without having to mortgage all your possessions in the off-chance someone with tickets couldn’t make it and you were the next person on the waiting list.