quick takes: movie marketing news for 10/17/22

A few brief thoughts on stories that have caught my eye while considering when the G.I. Joe team will be assembled to stop Elon Musk from completing whatever world-dominating project he’s working at the moment.

The theater industry keeps having very bad months, up to and including this past September, despite a number of films performing better than expected or beating their projected opening weekends. There seem to be a lot of people out there who are blaming streaming (as if it isn’t four of the same five companies supplying both distribution points) but it’s not as if there weren’t options at the box office. It’s simply that there’s a lack of audience desire to go see anything that isn’t a known quantity, at least not en masse.

To illustrate how it’s an audience interest issue, Blonde didn’t last very long at the top of Netflix’s “most popular” list before being supplanted by Gerard Butler’s latest generic action flick.

Also, the price of a movie ticket keeps going up, though the National Association of Theater Owners hasn’t updated its figures since 2019. NATO claims the more current figures wouldn’t be comparable to pre-2020 years because fewer kids and seniors are going to the theater and the discounts they enjoy have always heavily influenced the average it tracked. That may be but if fewer kids and seniors are going to the movies then that in and of itself is significant news, as is the fact that a major trade organization doesn’t want to publicize prices if it can’t put its thumb on the scale.

Movie Theater Popcorn GIF by filmeditor - Find & Share on GIPHY

Oh, and all this isn’t going to get better anytime soon given housing, food and energy costs keep going up so people have less disposable income for entertainment. And while streaming services are also raising prices, the per-unit cost is still drastically lower than it is for theaters and so is a better bargain.

I had a similar thought as Alissa Wilkinson at Vox, that so many recent movies feature a half-dozen or more stars that just a few years ago would have been carrying their own film. My theory on this has two parts:

  • That fewer non-IP movies are being made and so if they want to keep working they’ll jump into an ensemble project even if the role they’re offered isn’t at the level they would prefer
  • That movies have entered the same era the live music industry did in the mid-90s, where if you were either The Eagles commanding hundreds of dollars a ticket from well-off Boomers or a younger band still making their bones at smaller ballrooms. Anyone inbetween signed up for a “festival” tour with three to six other mid-range bands all hoping the combined appeal would keep them going for another couple years.

Adam B. Vary is a good writer but I have to take issue with the part of his recap of the “She-Hulk: Attorney At Law” finale where he says “part of the MCU’s gargantuanly successful appeal is that it’s never been a self-serious endeavor.” If anything the MCU has always been remarkably self-serious, treating every moment like it matters *so much* and everyone involved is not having any fun at all. Even the supposed comedic entries are tremendously self-important.

Super Hero Disney GIF by Marvel Studios - Find & Share on GIPHY

Oh are we supposed to be surprised that the same terrible people who harassed Amber Heard a few months ago are now going after Angelina Jolie as the latter goes public with the abusive behavior of her ex? I’m not, largely because this is all an extension of Gamergate-era behavior that platforms haven’t adequately dealt with.

The release of Halloween Ends has provided an opportunity for two of my least favorite modern media story types, specifically:

  • Is [insert name of movie” streaming?” This isn’t really a question given the campaign for every movie will make it clear the film is “Only in theaters” or prominently display the name of the streaming service it’s debuting on.
  • Is this movie really the end of the franchise it’s part of?” Come on, we know that even if a release is the end of one particular cycle it’s not the last time we’ll see that franchise in theaters. Sure, when Tom Holland moves on from playing Spider-Man his particular story arc will conclude, but it won’t be more than a couple years (if that long) before another Spider-Man movie comes out.

quick takes on: the first snake eyes trailer

Move with the wind…

After a handful of first look stills came out late last week the first trailer for Snake Eyes debuted during the recent MTV Movie & TV Awards and I have some thoughts.

the only origin story we really need

OK, so it’s an origin story, but not only did we get an abbreviated version of that origin in the earlier G.I. Joe movies but Larry Hama wrote what every Gen X comic book reader knows is the *definitive* version in issues #26 and #27 of the Marvel Comics series in 1984.

Along those same lines, why does everything have to be an origin story? Even if Paramount wasn’t on board for a full-on adaptation of “Silent Interlude” it would have been cool to see a movie where Snake Eyes is already at the height of his skills. Give me a movie where Snake is dropped behind enemy lines and has to ninja his way to completing the mission without support.

It’s a relatively short trailer so I’ll forgive that we only get a brief glimpse of Samara Weaving as Scarlett, but let’s not repeat this blatant oversight and give people what they want next time.

Incredulous Killer Queen GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

If I’m reading between the lines correctly this movie *is* connected to the previous G.I. Joe movies, acting as a prequel to them, but does it need to be? Are those so beloved that this couldn’t have served as a chance to restart things along different lines?

Ray Park *was* great as Snake Eyes in those movies, though, and if he doesn’t at least get a background cameo in this one I will be calling my congressman.

My presumption is, though this is an origin story, Henry Golding was not cast in the title role only for him to have his face burnt away. So Snake’s wearing of a balaclava will likely once more be explained as a choice instead of a necessity.

You can’t ignore the fact that Paramount and Hasbro timed the release of the trailer to coincide with Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #3, which features Snake Eyes, hitting comic shop shelves this week. Snake has been in Fortnite for a few months now, so this is a nice extension on a number of fronts.

Any additional thoughts?

Miss Juneteenth – Marketing Recap

How Vertical Entertainment is selling a drama with a timely title.

I’m not the only one, at least based on my social media feeds, who wasn’t taught the history of Juneteenth in school. This day – today – marks the anniversary of slaves in Texas being told in 1965 they were free as the result of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed over two years prior. While it has been virtually ignored in white culture for 155 years, its prominence resulting from the recent protests against police brutality have raised the day’s profile to the point where many organizations have declared it a paid company holiday and calls for it to be a federal holiday have increased substantially.

Today marks the release of the new movie Miss Juneteenth. Written and directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples, the film stars Nicole Beharie as Turquoise Jones, a former winner of the Miss Juneteenth beauty pageant. Now a single mom to her daughter Kia (Alexis Chikaeze), Turquoise has worked to build a good life for both of them and now wants to groom Kia to win the same pageant, one that is dedicated to commemorating the holiday. Those plans aren’t exactly what Kia has in mind, though, and the two struggle with each other’s ambitions.

The film, currently at 98 percent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, marks Peoples’ feature directorial debut and has received a limited but timely campaign to sell the drama as it seeks to seize the moment.

The Posters

Turquoise is decked out in a gown, complete with tiara, on the poster, released in May. She’s sitting on a small porch and looks more than a bit melancholy or even sad, conveying a sense of longing for the glory days of yesteryear or reflecting on some mistakes that have been made. That’s really the whole point and so works well on that front. The movie’s festival appearances are touted as well.

The Trailers

Also released in May, the one trailer (12.6k views on YouTube) opens with a look back at Turquoise’s heyday as she celebrates her winning the Miss Juneteenth pageant with a ride in a local parade. Cut to the present and she’s working hard to make ends meet for her and Kia, who is now on the pageant circuit. It’s clear Turquoise see’s Kia as the path to the future and a way out of the hard life they’re living, but Kia’s heart isn’t in it, fostering dreams of dancing and doing her own thing. Conflict between the two has both of them wishing they could just make the other understand where they’re coming from.

Online and Social

There doesn’t seem to be much of a web presence for the movie, though Vertical did have a page that rounded up some of the important links, including details on VOD and drive-in theater release availability. There were also social profiles for the film.

Advertising and Promotions

The film made a well-regarded appearance at Sundance 2020 and was scheduled to appear at SXSW before that festival was cancelled. Vertical Entertainment acquired distribution rights in April.

Media and Press

In a recent interview, Peoples spoke about the inspiration behind the story while Beharie talked about some of the problems she’s faced as a black actress, including the unequal treatment she received while starring on “Sleepy Hollow” years ago. That experience, she says, led to her deciding to be more selective in the projects she chose and the people she worked with.

The topic of black history, beauty standards and more came up in an interview with Chikaeze, who also spoke about what she knows of the holiday and more. She also talked about the experience she had getting teargassed by police while participating in one of the recent peaceful protest marches.

Costar Kendrick Sampson also spoke about how the movie speaks to our current situation

Overall

The campaign itself is good enough, showing the drama that comes from the friction between a parent who wants to relive her glory days vicariously through her daughter and the daughter who wants to follow her own path. A strong message is sent through the trailer in particular, which shows complex characters struggling to find their place in the world.

It also serves as yet another opportunity for those of us who haven’t been steeped in the history of Juneteenth to learn more about an important event and the history surrounding it. Vertical’s social profiles for the film worked as the primary points offering that context, serving up small but important history lessons that are useful in order to fully understand the movie’s story as well as society in general.

Picking Up The Spare

Another interview with Beharie here that touches on her experience shooting the film as well as her career to date. She also talked about the story and more in a joint interview with Peoples.

Beharie was interviewed about how the movie tells the story of people on society’s fringes who aren’t usually the subject of such films.