The Old Guard – Marketing Recap

How Netflix is selling its latest sci-fi action film.

The Old Guard, based on the graphic novel of the same name, star Charlize Theron as Andy, the leader of a group of mercenaries who have a particular advantage: They’re immortal. She and her team have been fighting on one side or another for centuries to protect humanity from massive threats it is largely unaware of.

At the same time new recruit Nile (Kiki Layne) joins the team they take on a job that winds up potentially exposing their existence to the world as a whole. That leads mysterious forces to seek them out in the hopes of harnessing their immortal abilities for profit, something Andy and the others are keen to avoid.

Netflix has been selling the film, written by Greg Rucka (who also wrote the original graphic novel) and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, as a less violent and more interesting option than its recent uber-graphic Extraction. Reviews so far have been largely positive but it sports only a 67 percent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Posters

Andy, her team and other supporting characters are arranged on the poster, released in mid-May (by marketing agency BOND), around a symbol or insignia that likely has significant meaning within the context of the story. The tagline “Forever is harder than it looks” hints nicely at the fact that the main characters are immortal while the guns and swords most are brandishing makes it clear they’re involved in some violent business.

A series of character images came out that use the same grey background and offer closeups of Andy, Nile and the others along with their birthdays, some of which go all the way back to BCE. That’s kind of a cool way to show off how old the characters are, adding another bit of information for the audience to latch onto.

The Trailers

The first trailer (3.3 million views on YouTube) came out in mid-May, introducing us to Andy and her team of seemingly immortal mercenaries. They’ve been in the shadows, fighting to protect the world for centuries and have a new recruit being trained. Someone has discovered their existence and is attempting to capture them in hopes of unlocking what makes them so special and profiting off it, something the team is keen to stop from happening. It’s a solid action flick being sold, with just enough of a mystery to keep things interesting.

Andy is in the midst of recruiting Nile in the second trailer (300,000 views on YouTube), released just last week. Nile meets the rest of the team and is welcomed into the world of immortals. Again we’re shown that they’re now on the radar of Copley, (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who wants to take them apart and see what makes them tick.

Online and Social

Nothing here, just a small amount of support on Netflix’s brand social channels.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The project was picked up by Netflix in late February, 2019.

One of the movie’s key action sequences was shared in a clip released in June.

Media and Publicity

Theron was interviewed about the movie in May, with her comments appearing along with a number of first-look stills to give audiences a sense of the movie’s style.

Both Layne and Theron were quoted about the movie and their characters in this interview that included another new look at the film.

Topics ranging from the movie to how she and her family were handling quarantine were covered when Theron appeared on “Today” and other shows. Another interview with her allowed her to talk even more about her character and how it fits into the actress’ other recent roles.

Overall

It might be hard to separate this from the dozens of other Netflix originals that have played in the science fiction or fantasy worlds, but this looks a cut above most of them. That’s not just due to the cast but also the production value, which appears to be a bit higher than what some others have sported.

The biggest draw here for many will be Theron’s once more stepping into an action role, something she’s been steadily doing and increasingly popular in. She’s turned, over the years, into a reliable action star capable of being both charming and deadly on-screen. With a concept that is pretty clearly explained in the campaign and lots of mysteries to be answered in the process, this looks like a fun and entertaining ride for people to check out.

Picking Up The Spare

Editor Terilyn Shropshire talks about collaborating with Prince-Bythewood and crafting the movie’s rhythm. Shropshire was also part of this joint interview with Prince-Bythewood. 

Theron was featured on the cover of EW in a photo shoot she produced herself in quarantine. In another interview she commented on how she’s carved out her own path in Hollywood without worrying about franchises and other things. 

How Layne trained for the action sequences in the film was covered in an interview with the actress. She also talked about how many black female heroes there are, even if there aren’t many in most media. 

Ejiofor commented on how he prepped for the role and what he thought of the story. 

A couple new featurettes have come out, one that focused on the translation fo the story from comics to film and one on the combat training the actors underwent. Another dove into the history of the characters while another talked about creating the immortals on screen. 

Prince-Bythewood got a substantial profile on her status as the first black female director to helm a major comic book adaptation. Further interviews with Layne on her own and Layne with Theron together talked more about various topics. 

Lots more interviews with Prince-Bythewood where she talked about casting Layne, what ideas there are for a sequel, how she avoided the over-played female catfight, what circumstances led to her having conversations with Skydance and the similarities between shooting action and love scenes. 

Theron appeared remotely on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie as well as the social issues she’s actively involved with. She later shared some funny stories on “Late Night” while Layne made an appearance on that show a bit later. 

Additional featurettes shared interesting facts (and one lie) about the historical details in the movie, had the cast and crew talking about the story, the challenges of the characters’ immortality

The topic of a sequel as well as the movie’s immediate popularity were covered by Theron in this interview. Priince-Bythewood got another profile where she talked about how she’s created her own career. 

It later came out that the movie’s post-production team was made up of up to 85 percent women, an unusually high number for most films.

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