How Netflix is selling a movie where anyone can gain powers…for a price.
The premise of Project Power, debuting on Netflix this week, is relatively simple. A drug has been developed that, when taken, grants the person who took it a random super power for just five minutes, but the kind of power is unknown. That creates a very dangerous situation where anyone can become a public threat at any time, and may even present a danger to themselves.
Those creating the drug are out to expand their business, but are also being sought by a trio including Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a cop who wants to protect his city, Robin (Dominique Fishback), a dealer who sees the problems the drug can create and Art (Jamie Foxx), an ex-soldier with motivations he keeps to himself. But to take on those with unpredictable powers, they might have to make difficult decisions about what they’re willing to do.
Netflix’s campaign for the film has focused heavily on the powers on display since they offer the flashiest visuals to get people’s attention.
Art is holding up one of the mysterious, glowing pills that offer unknown powers on the single poster (by marketing agency MOCEAN) for the movie, released in mid-July. Frank and Robin flank him on either side, a dark and slightly ominous background behind the trio. Copy in the foreground asks the audience “What would you risk for five minutes of pure power?”, making it somewhat clear what the story will be about.
We quickly get the premise as July’s first trailer (3.8 million views on YouTube) begins, that there’s a pill on the streets capable of giving people a random power when they take it. To the police that’s dangerous, and it becomes moreso when those making the pill kidnap Art’s daughter. The exact nature of the story isn’t crystal clear here, but that’s alright since the point is just to show off some of the fun visual tricks and action sequences, which look quite entertaining.
Online and Social
No standalone site, as is standard for Netflix, and it only received limited support on the brand’s own social channels and profiles.
Advertising and Promotions
The first clip shows a sequence of Frank chasing a powered-criminal after he himself has taken a pill. Additional clips came out over the next few weeks, including one where Robin shows off her freestyle skills after Art challenges her.
Media and Press
Some first look stills came out in mid-July.
Foxx appeared on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie and more.
There were a few other scattered press appearances, but nothing very substantial.
Netflix, like other streamers, has said for the last few years it wants to expand into more franchises, particularly big-budget action series that are roughly the equivalent of what audiences usually see on theater screens. To date those efforts have only been moderately successful – we’re still waiting to hear more about the Bright sequel reportedly greenlit years ago – but you can see an effort to set this up as just such a franchise.
The story is sidelined for the most part, bits and pieces only coming through in the gaps between action sequences and visuals of people figuratively or literally exploding with powers they don’t know how to deal with or use. Foxx, Gordon-Levitt and Fishback are there in service of those visuals, with their motivations unclear.
In that regard the movie looks like a pleasant diversion for a couple hours, but what kind of impact or staying power it has remains to be seen.