The Party – Marketing Recap

the party posterJanet (Kristin Scott Thomas) wants to celebrate some encouraging professional news by throwing a party for family and friends in the new film from writer/director Sally Potter The Party. Joining her and her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) are friends like April (Patricia Clarkson), Martha (Cherry Jones), Jinny (Emily Mortimer) and Tom (Cillian Murphy).

With so many people brought together, even if it is for positive news, there’s bound to be drama of some sort and that very much happens here. Over the course of the evening various secrets are revealed and relationships upended. Futures are decided or ruined and oh there’s a gun that makes an appearance as tensions rise and people become more and more upset.

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Early Man – Marketing Recap

early man poster finalThe gentle geniuses at Aardman Entertainment are back with another animated feature. This time they’re going back in time with Early Man, a story set millennia ago. Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) lives in a village set firmly in the Stone Age where he and his fellow villagers spend their time chiseling rocks into spearheads to hunt rabbits with.

One day Dug and the others get a rude awakening about the future of civilization when members of a nearby Bronze Age kingdom come crashing through their village. Lead by the egocentric and mean Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston), the interlopers threaten the only life Dug and his friends have ever known. So they set out to establish some sort of peace with the help of Goona (Maisie Williams), a local who’s sympathetic to their cause.

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Picking Up the Spare: The Greatest Showman, Dundee and More

The Greatest Showman

NBC used “This Is Me” from the movie in an inspirational commercial promoting the upcoming Winter Olympics coverage, seeming to overlook that the song is about being proud in your outsider status and drowning out the crowds calling you a freak, not just about achieving greatness. Still…not the most tone-deaf spot during the Super Bowl thanks to the presence of Dodge Ram and its commercial using an out-of-context snippet of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech.

Dundee

First off, yes, I know this wasn’t actually a movie. But here’s the final commercial for Tourism Australia that ran during the Super Bowl, which has McBride acknowledging after he and Hemsworth keep skipping across different locations that it’s not actually a movie, which is great. Love the small cameo by Paul Hogan. Both Fast Company and The Hollywood Reporter have background interviews with the cast and others about the making of the spot. And the Australia bureau chief for The New York Times says the time is right for just this kind of movie to show off the current version of the country.

Jackie

Natalie Portman appeared on “Saturday Night Live” to promote her upcoming Annihilation but in one sketch recreated her performance as the widow of John F. Kennedy in one skit to offer some First Lady advice to Melania Trump. She also updated her foul-mouthed rap career, including references to the Star Wars Prequels and Black Swan.

Thor: Ragnarok

Director Taika Waititi continues to be an absolute wonder with this introduction to the film that’s part of the push for its home video release.

The Cloverfield Paradox

To say the movie has proved divisive would be an understatement, though I maintain that people criticizing Netflix for its zero-turnaround-time marketing would be singing a different tune if they liked the movie more. CNBC has a take similar to my Adweek story and the write-up at Quartz is worth reading as well. And while David Fear at Rolling Stone says we’ve been suckered, Neil Turitz at Tracking Board sees some of the same potential I did.

The Hollywood Reporter quotes sources saying Netflix paid $50 million Paramount for the movie, helping the studio not only cover production costs but also earn a nice profit since it didn’t have to spend any money on distribution or marketing. And it may have been worth it. While reviews have not been kind, a survey gauging how Super Bowl spots moved the needle on purchase consideration found Netflix got the biggest lift this year as people were intrigued by the mysterious commercial and release strategy.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

There Seems to Be One Hope for Movie Theaters to Survive

Last week I wrote about the many and various realities impacting what movies are made or acquired by studios and distributors in light of what’s happening not only within the movie industry but in the general media and retail worlds. There are four more stories that have emerged since or which at the time I didn’t give full freight to the first time around.

First there’s MoviePass. The “see a movie a day for one low monthly fee” service has been under fire from theater owners since its inception. They feel the “no incremental cost” model cheapens the moviegoing experience but customers just like seeing essentially free movies. MoviePass loses money the more movies a customer sees but is hoping selling data on those customers to studios eager to target that audience will be the key to actually making money. AMC in particular among theater chains has signaled it’s worried not only about the customer experience (at least that’s what it says) but that MoviePass subscribers won’t continue coming to theaters if the company goes out of business and “full price” is the only option.

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No Time To Look Back With So Much Star Wars Coming

When speaking to investors a couple days ago, Disney chief Bob Iger revealed the studio was working on not one but “many” Star Wars TV series that would be distributed on its upcoming subscription streaming service. That news came shortly after the announcement the guys currently serving as showrunners on “Game of Thrones” had been tapped to develop a new series of films that are separate from the Saga movies and those coming from Rian Johnson.

Putting aside (at least for now) the fact that the field of Star Wars creatives are overwhelmingly white guys, all of that amounts to a lot of stories from a galaxy far, far away that are coming down the road.

The question of whether or not this is too much remains to be seen. We’re just months away from getting our fourth Star Wars movie in under three years and the franchise is wrapping up the very popular “Rebels” show on Disney XD. Also happening are multiple books for both older and younger readers as well as a multitude of comics series for a variety of audiences.

What I feel like we’re missing most from the “good old days” of Star Wars fandom is time to really live with and reflect on any one thing.

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When We First Met – Marketing Recap

when we first met posterAdam Devine plays Noah in the new Netflix original movie When We First Met. At a college party one night he meets Avery (Alexandra Daddario) and the two hit it off immediately. After hanging out and getting to know each other Noah is about ready to take it to the next level when she makes it clear she’s not interested in anything romantic. Three years later as she’s about to marry another guy, Noah is feeling sorry for himself but finds a way to travel back in time to the day they met, giving him infinite chances to change things and make a relationship with Avery happen. It doesn’t go well.

Yes, someone made a movie about the “friend zone,” that penalty box men (and women sometimes) feel they’ve been put into when they want to make something happen but the other party doesn’t feel the same. I’m not going to lie to you…this is going to get rough.

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The 15:17 to Paris – Marketing Recap

1517 to paris poster 2Director Clint Eastwood continues the “true life stories” phase of his career he began in 2009 with this week’s 15:17 to Paris. Like some of his other recent films this movie tells the story of ordinary people who rose to the occasion when something extraordinary was asked of them. In this case, it’s the 2015 attempted terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train that was scuttled by three American soldiers who happened to be on the train and who apprehended the attacker before he could do serious harm.

Notably, Eastwood cast the three actual individuals to play themselves. So Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos all reenact the events of that day as well as the journeys that lead them to be on that train at that place at that time. Helping them along are seasoned pros like Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer and others who play the family, friends and other influences on the lives of the three soldiers.

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New to Home Video This Week: A Bad Moms Christmas, Blame and More

A quick look at some of the more notable titles hitting home video this week.

bad moms christmas poster 6A Bad Moms Christmas

This sequel to 2016’s surprise hit (said because as usual expectations for a female-led comedy were pretty low) didn’t perform at the same level as the original but still brought in some pretty decent box office. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Katherine Hahn all returned as the frazzled mothers and wives who are trying their best to live up to the expectations society places on women, this time with the added comedy and pathos of their visiting mothers. Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon play the moms of the moms. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the overdone gender cliches on display in the campaign, a lot of people apparently were.

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Peter Rabbit – Marketing Recap

peter rabbit poster 2The simple, no-frills stories originated by author Beatrix Potter come to the big screen this week with the release of Peter Rabbit. Mixing live action and animation, James Corden voices the titular rabbit, the de facto leader of all the animals who live on McGregor’s farm. They are well fed and everything is great, including enjoying an understanding with their human neighbor Bea (Rose Byrne).

Things change with the arrival of Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson). He wants all the animals gone and off his farm immediately, thinking them to be pests and vermin. That not only brings him into conflict with Peter but complicates the romance budding between him and Bea since she’s very protective of the creatures. You get where this is going.

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The Cloverfield Paradox – Marketing Recap

Since the movie didn’t exactly get a traditional marketing campaign The Cloverfield Paradox deserves something other than a traditional campaign recap.

I shared some of the ways the marketing breaks many of the established movie marketing rules over at Adweek today but wanted to expand on a few points here.

Connective Material

The commercial that premiered during last night’s Super Bowl broadcast just hours before Netflix made it available for subscribers to watch, starts out by showing footage from the original 2008 Cloverfield, specifically of the first explosions that rock New York City and start the story in motion. In this spot we get that from a different perspective as someone a ways away watches it happen out the window of his apartment. Cut to 10 years later aboard a space station where….things…are happening. It’s never explained what it is, but it’s evident that there are answers here as to what brought the monster to Earth a decade prior as well as new threats – including a creepy crawling disembodied arm – that must be faced.

The poster that hit at the same time continues the visual branding that was used on the Lane one-sheet, with the long white vertical lines going up and down from the title treatment. A field of stars covers the background while the copy tells us “The future unlocked every thing.” That’s a curious – and ominous – inclusion of a space in that last word that changes the meaning drastically from what it otherwise might have been. It also harkens back to the theatrical poster for the original, which warned the audience “Some thing had found us,” the similar word usage hinting that there’s a definite connection between the two films. The connection is reinforced by a shot from the commercial of a bobblehead carrying a Slusho drink, an item that figured heavily into the 2008 release’s marketing.

So there’s a conscious effort being made to offer this as the connection between the two previous movies. That means a lot when you’re talking about a series of films that has relative niche appeal like this does. It promises too an explanation of why those things happened, even as it sets up more mysteries of its own. That’s only deepened by a new promo released this morning of a character sending a message back to Earth telling everyone there to stop what they’re doing and enjoy what time they have left with their families.

Competing Against Everyone

When Bright came out it was seen as Netflix’s attempt to horn in on the one bit of territory theaters were holding on to: The sci-fi blockbuster. The Cloverfield Paradox would seem to be another move along those lines. Indeed, it’s meant to both test and take advantage of how going to the movies is no longer in vogue – as seen in the falling ticket sales over recent years – and highlight how easy it is to watch something spontaneously where there’s no incremental cost associated with the decision.

You could make the case that accepting any ad for a movie is a case of a TV network encouraging the competition. People have limited time for entertainment, so that two or three hours of moviegoing is two or three hours they’re not watching TV. That’s even more true here, where Netflix was directly counter-programming against NBC. It’s almost as if Netflix is fighting a war the networks aren’t even aware is happening.

So too, it’s a preemptive strike against Amazon Studios. That company has stated and made moves recently to realign the priorities of its film and TV divisions to focus on bigger productions. Both streamers sat out this year’s Sundance Film Festival, not making a single acquisition as they move away from prestige awards contenders to crowd pleasers. Even if Paradox isn’t the best movie in the world, it’s step in that direction and between it and Bright it has first-mover advantage over the competition, at least for the moment.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Netflix finally created and released a more traditional trailer for the movie that still doesn’t offer a whole lot of plot or story points but does add to the dread and mystery, positioning it as a space-based terror film while seeming to forego the explicit connections to the rest of the Cloverfield series. One exception to that statement is the use of the seemingly innocuous music that’s used, which harkens back to the first trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane.

 

The New York Times gets around to writing the same article everyone else has recently, about how it’s weird this new situation where “Ehh, give it to Netflix” is a viable option for some studios looking to offload “difficult” films.

 

Paramount COO Andrew Gumpert confirmed in this interview that the decision to sell the movie to Netflix at the last minute was based on the studio having questions about its commercial viability.  

 

To say the movie has proved divisive would be an understatement, though I maintain that people criticizing Netflix for its zero-turnaround-time marketing would be singing a different tune if they liked the movie more. CNBC has a take similar to my Adweek story and the write-up at Quartz is worth reading as well. And while David Fear at Rolling Stone says we’ve been suckered, Neil Turitz at Tracking Board sees some of the same potential I did.
The Hollywood Reporter quotes sources saying Netflix paid $50 million Paramount for the movie, helping the studio not only cover production costs but also earn a nice profit since it didn’t have to spend any money on distribution or marketing. And it may have been worth it. While reviews have not been kind, a survey gauging how Super Bowl spots moved the needle on purchase consideration found Netflix got the biggest lift this year as people were intrigued by the mysterious commercial and release strategy.