How Netflix has sold a quirky addition to the Sherlock Holmes franchise.
There have been countless adaptations and updates to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes over the years. Most recently, Warner Bros. put to movies in theaters with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law playing Holmes and Watson, respectively. On TV, the BBC’s “Sherlock” brought the character into the modern era and was itself adapted for U.S. audiences in the form of “Elementary.”
Enola Holmes, out today on Netflix and based on a series of books by author Nancy Springer, puts Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and his brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin) in supporting roles while their younger sister Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) takes the lead. On Enola’s 16th birthday their mother (Helena Bonham Carter) suddenly disappears, with Enola left behind to piece together whatever clues there might be in an attempt to find her. Her brothers want her to follow a more traditional path for a 18th century young lady and go to finishing school, but Enola is determined to keep going, even when she winds up becoming entangled in a much larger mystery in London.
Though the story’s setting is in-line with the original stories, the marketing campaign from Netflix has definitely taken a more modern, irreverent approach.
The first and primary poster (by marketing agency Concept Arts) came out in August and sets the tone of the film very well with Victorian dresses and suits mixed with bright colors and a title treatment that looks like it was put together with text ripped from magazines.
A series of colorful, slightly pulpy character posters came out just last week, all featuring the same title treatment with each individual placed against a different landmark, location or building that’s featured in the story.
The trailer (7.3 million views on YouTube), released in late August, sells a movie that’s as fun and mischievous as it is filled with mystery. Enola is, we see, completely devoted to her mother, with whom she has a special bond. When she disappears, Enola enlists the aid of her two older brothers to help track her down, but their attempts to civilize Enola aren’t enough for the girl’s spirit. She sets out on her own to find their mother, proving she’s more than capable of holding her own no matter what society expected of most young women at the time.
Online and Social
No stand-alone site for the movie but it has received plenty of support on Netflix’s various brand social channels.
Advertising and Promotions
In production from Legendary, Netflix acquired rights to the movie in April.
Unfortunately a few months later the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyal filed a lawsuit claiming the story violated their copyright on the characters depicted, something it has attempted previously with limited success.
In the weeks leading up to release Netflix put out a number of promotional videos and featurettes. That included the cast explaining the characters and story, Brown reading excerpts from one of the books, an overview of Victorian-era slang and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film that also offers an introduction to the character of Enola and her world.
There was also a more traditional TV spot-esque promo showing how Enola keeps one-upping her famous brothers and refusing to fall into what’s deemed to be her place.
Media and Press
The focus here has been largely on Brown, which makes sense given not only her lead role here but also her popularity on “Stranger Things.” That focus has included a profile on how she got ready for the period role and a joint interview with director Harry Bradbeer about exploring the character and making an action movie with a young woman at the core.
The campaign is just a lot of fun. With Enola breaking the fourth wall to share her thoughts and frustrations with the audience, her attempts to break away from the path her brothers and society would like her to follow and her determination to find her mother, a great sense of humor and attitude permeates the various marketing assets on display here.
The trailer is great, but the posters are also very important in establishing the movie’s brand for the audience. How the designs evoke the poppiest of pop culture, reminiscent of movies like Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, which had the same attitude on display.
More than all that, it’s a chance for Brown to really breakout from her breakout role and show the kind of range she’s capable of.
Picking Up The Spare
There was also a profile of the movie’s production team and how they achieved the story’s look and feel.
Quite a few new featurettes have also come out, including ones about the twists of the story, the stunts and a key fight sequence. Along with those were a couple more lighthearted videos. And a blooper reel seemed to round things out.
Brown appeared on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie and more.