Underwater – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing recap for Underwater at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

Not much of an official website, just the bare minimum of marketing materials laid out in the standard Fox site template.

Media and Press

A first still from the film was released just before the first trailer came out in August, 2019.

What’s been surprising is the almost complete lack of pre-release press activity on the film’s behalf. Stewart has been especially absent, though she did the circuit just recently for Seberg, which was positioned as a labor of love for her and so dominated her attention and time. Oh, and there was also the Charlie’s Angels campaign.

The studio livestreamed a Q&A with the cast earlier this week. It also shared a goofy – and tonally off-brand – video of Stewart guessing items in a fish tank mystery box.

At the movie’s premiere Stewart and the rest of the cast and crew talked about the pressure of working in such a high-stress and sometimes dangerous environment.


Picking Up the Spare

More online ads like the one below popped up as the movie was hitting theaters.

Underwater online ad

Dark Phoenix – Marketing Recap

You can read the rest of my recap of the marketing for Dark Phoenix at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

Minimal effort has been put into the movie’s official website, which just sports the standard marketing content and little else.

Media and Publicity

While there had been conversations about the movie for a while, ever scene production of Days of Future Past, the first actual publicity beat hit in December of last year in an Entertainment Weekly cover story that explained what the story would be, a bit about the source material and more. It included first look photos, concept art, comments from Lawrence about her role.

Chastain also spoke about her secret role in the movie and how she got involved, a process that included finding the script to include something other than the usual female characters and roles. Some of those involved in the movie also admitted to the shortcomings of X-Men: Apocalypse, which was not reviewed well, and how this movie is meant to celebrate the team’s female characters. It was also revealed in that story that Genosha, an island created by Magneto as a mutant-only nation, will appear.

Empire had another set of stills offering glimpses of more characters.

Immediately after the second trailer – which Chastain debuted when she appeared on “The Tonight Show” – was released in late February, Kinberg was interviewed about why a notable character’s death was shown – or at least hinted at – in the trailer, saying it was in part to show the audience the movie would feature significant stakes.

Shipp was interviewed about the movie, commenting on how it finally gives the female characters in the X franchise something interesting to do.

The end of “Game of Thrones” also provided a hook for interviews like this with Turner where she reflected on what’s next for her – including this movie – now that she’s free of the pressures of being on a show.

Kinberg also spoke one more time about being responsible for bringing the series to a close and how he managed not having all the cast locked in during pre-production. Another interview with the director talked about how he approached handling what he knew was going to be a finale for the series.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” hosted a joint appearance by many of the cast’s biggest players, including Turner, Chastain, Fassbender, McAvoy and others.


The question has emerged whether it was Fox or Disney that has been responsible for the movie’s campaign, particularly in the months since that deal was finalized. Who crafted the direction of the marketing is unclear from the layman’s point of view, but it mostly smells like a Fox production, with the tone and focus similar to how previous entries in the X-Men franchise have been sold. It’s also unlikely that a Disney campaign would include so much emphasis on the history of these movies, particularly since the future of the characters is still being determined.

dark phoenix gif

Picking Up the Spare

Lots of details about production have emerged since the movie hit theaters, including reports the filmmakers initially planned two movies covering the whole story and how extensively poor test screenings contributed to reshoots and changes to some character’s fates. That included the studio and others involved seemingly having learned all the wrong lessons from the troubled production of Apocalypse as well as attempts to move the movie out of the way of Alita: Battle Angel and other releases. 

There’s also been lots of discussion about the character played by Chastain, one that was kept secret in the pre-release publicity for no real reason, it seems. 

Alita: Battle Angel – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Alita: Battle Angel at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

It’s surprising, though I’m not sure why, that a movie with such a deep mythology would get a website that acknowledges none of it. There’s just the very basic information you can find anywhere else online

Media and Publicity

A live-streamed Q&A with Cameron, Rodriguez and Salazar preceded the trailer and offered fans a bit more information about the movie.

A later interview with Salazar and Rodriguez reiterated how different the hero she plays is going to be.

While at NYCC, Rodriguez was interviewed about how he got involved and the kinds of expectations that came with the job.

Salazar finally got a profile of her own that focused on the unusual nature of her role in this movie and how she got it. Another hit similar topics as well as talking about her career so far. Connelly and Cameron went on to make a few late night and early morning appearances, as did others from the cast and crew. Cameron was interviewed about the story and morality of the character as she tries to move past her history as a warrior to be a better person. The issue of Latinx representation was also commented on by Salazar.

Waltz finally joined the publicity campaign with a profile that covered this movie as well as his previous work. Rodriguez was interviewed about his experience working with Cameron.


alita gif

The Kid Who Would Be King – Marketing Recap

kid who would be king poster 7The Kid Who Would Be King tells a new version of an old, old story. Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is the kind of quiet, creative kid who frequently gets bullied at school and would like to just do his own thing. He begins to feel he may be destined for something more when he discovers a strange sword stuck in a stone, a sword he manages to extract.

Alex begins to believe he may be the modern incarnation of the legendary King Arthur. Suddenly he’s faced with standing up against the growing threat presented by Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) and so must recruit the help of his friends as well as a few skilled enemies. Most importantly, he’s aided by the wizard Merlin (Patrick Stewart).

The Posters

Alex appears on the first one-sheet with his back to the camera, the better for us to see Excalibur strapped to his back and the armor he’s wearing, all with Big Ben and the rest of London in the background. In the sky an eclipse hints at mounting darkness, while the “Kids rule” copy tells us we are dealing with some underage heroes.

He and his makeshift army are fighting off the evil hordes on the second poster, which gives off a distinct Army of Darkness vibe with all the undead soldiers massing around the kids, who are fighting them off with stolen street signs and other weapons. The same eclipse is shown in the sky, with Morgana in dragon form looming over the action.

All four kids are given individual character posters showing them in their school uniforms with their swords and other weapons at the ready. Beyond their names there’s no other copy about them and they’re all placed against a white background, so they don’t offer much in the way of additional information.

Those images are brought together for the final one-sheet to show them united against the threat facing the world, with the stakes laid out in copy at the top.

The Trailers

The place Alex occupies on the social ladder is laid out in the teaser trailer, which opens by showing him being bullied and discounted at school. He begins to suspect there’s something more to his life when he pulls a magic sword from a stone, which brings him into contact with Merlin (in disguise as a teenager). So he assembles the team of knights and sets out to build an army of other kids to fight back against Morgana before she can bring about the end of the world. They all get into various hijinks in that fight and it ends with a moistened bint lobbying a sword at Alex from the bathtub.

The official trailer isn’t much different, offering a few variations on what was previous seen but selling the same arc and ideas.

Online and Social

Fox’s official website for the movie has the trailer and other videos along with all the posters, a story synopsis and more. There are links to profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Promoted Tweets like this used short, TV-spot-like videos to help raise awareness and drive ticket sales. Actual TV commercials offered audiences different aspects of the story, mostly focusing on the kid-empowerment nature of the story, including the odds Alex and his friends are up against.

A partnership with Ubisoft inserted a movie-themed quest and virtual swag into their game Hungry Dragons. Medieval Times also joined with the studio to offer a sweepstakes awarding the winner a private screening for them and their friends.

Toy store FAO Schwarz put a movie-sponsored “experience” in its New York location that let kids step up and try for themselves removing Excalibur from a stone. And a “Fortnite Challenge” put the movie’s brand in front of the many, many players of that popular game.

Media and Publicity

There were a few featurettes offered by Fox and others, including Merlin explaining how to achieve duplication, control minds and open portals. The cast and crew also talked about the “massive adventure” the movie contains while various clips showed audiences extended looks at key sequences to whet their appetites.

Stewart was interviewed about what he wanted to bring to the role of Merlin, something that’s been tackled by a number of actors in the past. Director Joe Cornish also spoke about how this is the first movie he’s helmed in eight years and what he wanted to bring to the story, which he also wrote. The whole cast made other media rounds on “The Today Show” and elsewhere to promote the film.


The campaign may not work for me, but I’m also not its target audience. While it contains many of the same marketing tropes as some of the other YA films released in recent year, including how the kids rise up despite the opinions of adults, it differs in that it’s a fantasy story, not one involving them bringing down some authoritarian government, just stopping an evil wizard.

That lends the whole marketing effort a nice upbeat vibe as we see the kids overcoming great odds and learning what they’re capable of, not just fighting back against vague threats. The trailers may be a bit hokey and some of the posters are uninspired, but it’s hard to deny the positive nature of the story being sold, one that offers a bit of relief and escape instead of merely reflecting dystopian fears held by society at large.

Picking Up the Spare

Cornish was interviewed again about the movie, commenting on the story’s refection of the Brexit debate happening in the U.K. He also talked about the process of rethinking a historical legend to be an underage character.

Once Upon a Deadpool – Marketing Recap

Recapping Fox’s quick marketing campaign for ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL.

once upon a deadpool poster 2It’s not unusual for studios to occasionally rerelease big movies, particularly around the holidays or at other key moments where there’s the potential to reach new audiences or ask old ones to come out to revisit a movie they enjoyed the first time around. What *is* unusual for a movie to get a whole new version that eliminates one of its key selling points from its initial release.

That’s just what Fox is doing with Deadpool 2, now rebranded as Once Upon A Deadpool and hitting theaters today in a new, slightly scrubbed version that sports a more welcoming PG-13 rating. It’s a risky move given that the primary value proposition behind the Deadpool franchise has been that the character is unapologetically vulgar and violent. To help counter whatever concerns might be out there Fox has mounted a mini-campaign that is just as meta and playful as audiences have come to expect from the character.

The Posters

once upon a deadpool posterThe first poster was appropriately insane, showing Deadpool sitting behind Fred Savage, the latter wearing the same Chicago Bears jersey he did in The Princess Bride, on a red-nosed reindeer, the latter helping to convey the movie’s release timing to the audience. Oh, and the framing of the poster is just what’s seen on the one-sheet for The Princess Bride, just to help reinforce that point.

The second, released just a week or so prior to the movie hitting theaters, hits the “second coming” theme by showing Deadpool at the front of a choir of angelic beings that includes Savage and a host of band members heralding his arrival with trumpets and more. That image wound up being the subject of a backlash from the Church of Latter Day Saints since it recreates a famous painting associated with that group.

The Trailers

In the middle of November, just about a month out from release, a trailer (22.4 million views on YouTube) wsa put out featuring Deadpool talking with Fred Savage, who’s laying in bed in a Bears jersey just like he was in The Princess Bride. Only we have a bit of a Misery situation here, with Savage being tied down to that bed. We get a bit of footage from the movie, including some new stuff, before we’re back to Savage taking a shot at Deadpool’s status as a non-MCU Marvel movie.

Advertising and Publicity

A TV spot released at the end of November took roughly the same approach as the trailer while another a couple weeks later had Deadpool answering questions from Savage about himself and the movie that echoed much of what the audience had been wondering since this release was announced.

At about the time the actual marketing of the movie started, Reynolds explained how a big part of the reason he finally agreed to a PG-13 cut of the movie was an agreement to have a portion of the proceeds go to a cancer charity. He also offered some details on the single day of additional shooting that was done to add the Fred Savage framing scenes.

The charitable angle was the focus of a video released by Reynolds that had Deadpool and Savage having an initially heated discussion about Nickelback. Another clip showing the two of them revolved around how Deadpool is bleeping out his own cursing in an effort to avoid that R rating with this version of the movie.

On the day the movie hit theaters Fox released a promo featuring “poorly paid actors” hired by the studio – a disclosure that appears at the bottom of the screen – touting the fact that there’s finally a version of Deadpool that the whole family can enjoy.

Outside of that, the movie generated lots of speculation and discussion around *why* Fox was making this move right now. Plenty of essays and op-eds were written about how it’s meant to fill a hole in the studio’s end-of-year release schedule, or that it’s a trial balloon floated by the studio to show its new Disney owners it could play nice with the character and make him more amenable to a potential crossover with other characters.


Whatever Fox’s rationale or reasoning, it mounted a fun and appropriately self-effacing marketing push in a very limited time window. That campaign has not only worked to get people once more talking about Deadpool but also, in some way, set expectations in a way that if it turns out to be a complete disaster it’s kind of already acknowledged that could be a possibility.

If anything, the campaign itself adds to the character’s brand perception instead of detracting from it, which surely was a real concern. That will surely help in the long run, no matter what the future of the Merc With a Mouth is under his new corporate management.

Picking Up the Spare

While it was mostly an infomercial for his gin company, Reynolds did talk about the movie in a “Today Show” appearance.

Widows – Marketing Recap

widows posterThere are always plenty of crime dramas in theaters, but writer Gillian Flynn and director Steve McQueen are looking to do something different with this week’s new release Widows. The movie stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo as four women with one thing in common: Their dead husbands, all criminals, all departed while still owing a debt to some very bad men.

Those very bad men don’t see death as a reason to forgive the debts, so it falls to those left behind to make things right. Determined to live on their own terms and get out from under the thumb of anyone who would control them, the women take matters into their own hands and do what they need to do in order to survive.

The Posters

The first poster intercuts the men and women of the main cast in strips at the top, likely to show how all their lives are interconnected. The women themselves are shown at the bottom below the title near the copy “Left with nothing. Capable of anything” to explain how they are seizing control of their future.

The Trailers

There’s lot of violence on display as the trailer opens, with scenes of crimes being committed by men who are also shown being attentive – sometimes unwillingly so – to their wives. When those men are killed in a standoff with police, the women are left holding the bag quite literally, still owing the debts their husbands ran up. So they set out to settle things up by any means necessary, determined to protect what’s left of their families.

I want to see this immediately. Looks powerful and gritty, with a bunch of very talented actors.

Many of the same themes and messages are in the second trailer as well, showing the group of wives coming together to pick up the mantle of their husbands as a way to defy expectations and make sure they never have to rely on anyone else ever again.

Online and Social

Unfortunately the movie just gets the standard ticket-centric website from Fox, with only the barest of information offered.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV advertising started with a spot that showed why the women are doing what they’re doing and how cognizant they are of the consequences of their decisions and actions. An extended spot offered even more information to the audience.

Promoted posts like this began running on Twitter in early October, playing up the cast and the critical praise the movie had already received. Other ads continued running right up to release, each taking slightly different approaches, including later ones that used quotes from some of the positive early reviews.

Media and Publicity

A trailer was shown off by the studio during CinemaCon to help show off the movie’s tone and impressive cast. The movie was also part of the later CineEurope presentation from the studio and later was announced as the opening night feature at the London Film Festival. It was also announced as one of those screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Costar Cynthia Erivo was interviewed about how this film and a few others mark her transition from stage to screen and how she got cast here. Another substantial profile of the actress followed in October.

That the movie would include a new Sade song was also mentioned frequently in the press.

A clip was released to Variety in early September showing Veronica trying to rally the other wives to take their situation seriously and start doing what needs to be done to escape their situation. Another showed the funeral of Veronica’s husband and the kind of people pressuring her to make good on his debts. One released in early October focused on Erivo’s character and her introduction to the rest of the crew.

The positive reception it got at Toronto generated some awards speculation, though some people identified the unusual nature of the movie as a reason such a campaign may be hard to mount. The topic of industry awards and cultural representation was also addressed by McQueen.

All four main actresses, while in Toronto, spoke about the female friendships and partnerships behind the story. McQueen revealed he’d been warned not to work with Rodriguez because she was “difficult,” a label often affixed by men to women who speak their mind, but he found the qualities others see as troublesome as actually adding to the role.

Given its setting, it’s not that surprising it was also added to the list of the Chicago Film Festival screenings as well as to the lineup of the Austin Film Festival and the AFI Film Festival. New York City’s Museum of Modern Art then made it part of its annual film series.

Davis appeared on “Kimmel” in late August to talk about this movie and other projects she had on the horizon.

McQueen and his vision were the subjects of a featurette that had most of the main cast talking about how he directs a scene and gets to the heart of the story. Another video had McQueen and co-writer Gillian Flynn talking about why they set the story in Chicago and how they adapted to filming there. Still another went deep into the story.

Kaluuya appeared on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie while Rodriguez was interviewed about how taking on the role was a bit scary, taking her into uncomfortable territory. McQueen also continued talking about how easy interracial casting is if you just do it.

Glamour offered a feature profile of Davis that allowed her to talk about her career and plenty of other issues and topics. At an early screening a few weeks prior to release she also made comments that were widely picked up in the press about how rare it is to see an interracial relationship on screen where the difference between the two isn’t somehow the focus or involve some kind of unequal power dynamic.


This is one of those campaigns that has won me over as time went by. The first trailer didn’t really work for me but once the featurettes started rolling out and the cast and crew started talking about the movie a bit more, it become one that became increasingly interesting.

It’s notable how the marketing has focused on the talent even more than the story. McQueen and Flynn have been frequently put in the spotlight to talk about *why* they told the story, not necessarily what it is. At the same time Davis has been placed in the position of spokesperson for the film, hopefully leading to even bigger and better things for her.

Picking Up The Spare

Viola Davis showed up on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie and more. She and McQueen were interviewed together about the movie, race in Hollywood and lots more.

A few new TV spots like this were released in the days following the movie hitting theaters.

Davis was interviewed about the strength and resilience of the characters in the story while Debicki was profiled about finally playing someone who wasn’t overly glamorous and rich and how she’s a standout in a high-profile cast. There was also a later interview with Duvall.

Fox released a couple roundtable videos featuring McQueen, Flynn and the cast.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Marketing Recap

My latest marketing recap at The Hollywood Reporter covers the “troubled production” that lead to Bohemian Rhapsody.

The film been plagued by poor headlines during production based largely around the departure of original director Bryan Singer, who is said to have clashed with Malek and failed to return to the set after a break late last year. Singer is still credited as the director, though Dexter Fletcher — who also directed the upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman — stepped in to finish production and editing.

Online and Social

The official website of the movie follows the usual Fox format, starting off with the “Trailers” and other videos and moving on to “About” where you can read a synopsis and cast/crew list. That section also features links to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles.

“Sing Along” is where people can find out more about the “Put Me In Bohemian” promotion. The “Gallery” is followed by “Partners” information.

Media and Publicity

Malek has been talking about the movie and how he prepared for playing Mercury, as well as the intimidating reality of doing so while members of Queen were around, for over a year, all the way back to when he was doing press for Buster’s Mal Heart.

A first look at Malek as Mercury appeared in Entertainment Weekly along with comments from the actor about getting the look of the singer just right.

The latest in a long series of recent directorial dramas emerged when it was reported production had been halted due to the unexplained and unexcused absence of Singer, who disappeared following what was said to be tension between him and Malek. Singer was soon fired by Fox, which announced a new director would be hired soon to finish the few weeks of filming that remained. The director came out quickly with a statement insisting Fox was keeping him shut out after denying him time off to deal with family health issues. He was soon replaced by Dexter Fletcher, who had been attached to the project early in its development. It was later reported that, despite all that drama, Singer would retain sole directorial credit.

Things went dark for a while after that until Malek showed up in character at Fox’s CinemaCon presentation, which also included a rough-cut trailer for attendees to get a better look at the film. Malek talked a bit about how the role was so imposing but no one involved mentioned the director situation. It was also part of the studio’s similar CineEurope presentation.

In the wake of the trailer’s release there was a round, represented by comments from showrunner and frequent subject of “…Has Dropped Out of (project name)” headlines Bryan Fuller, of anger and frustration over accusations Fox was hiding both Mercury’s homosexuality and AIDS diagnosis. Neither of those are explicitly referred to in the initial marketing materials so there is a point to be made, but it was also early in the campaign at that point. That first trailer also spurred a spike in sales and stream’s of the band’s music.

Another new photo was accompanied by an interview with Malek about how he tried to get into Mercury’s head and how doing so helped him get through production. Malek showed up on “KImmel” to talk about the same subject, how he worked hard to really become Mercury.

Malek’s dedication to researching the role was the subject of a feature profile on the actor. He also pushed back on the idea that the film was glossing over Mercury’s sexuality or illness, saying that absolutely wasn’t the case, though that doesn’t address why they were conspicuously absent from the marketing.

Singer wasn’t completely removed from the narrative, as the director preemptively commented on a story he presumed was going to cover the multiple accusations of sexual abuse and harassment that have been leveled at him over the years.


Basically if you like Queen you’ll probably like the campaign and then the movie. But if you’re looking for anything that pushes beyond that in any substantive way you may be disappointed.

Picking Up The Spare

There have been a number of stories like this that cover the long, troubled trip the movie took from conception to release.

Malek and the rest of the cast appeared in an IMAX featurette hyping how that format is the best one to get the full impact of the movie’s music.

A series of “Tribute to Queen” videos featuring JaQuel Knight, Garth Brooks and Ja Rule were released, continuing the angle of the campaign showing how influential the band was on a whole range of musicians.

Wrangler took advantage of the movie’s style to launch a line of jeans “inspired” by the look and feel of the band.

The studio partnered with Sofar Sounds on a special night of screenings in eight cities around the country.

Striking while the iron is hot, Queen and Adam Lambert announced “The Rhapsody Tour.”

Fox released a side-by-side comparison of footage from Queen’s actual Live Aid performance and the movie’s recreation of that concert.

Another community campaign, #StompForQueen, was the subject of a promotional video after the movie had already been in theaters for a while.

Fox put a sing-along version of the movie back in theaters to encourage people to come back out one more time and get a little audience participation going.

Director Dexter Fletcher talked about his work on this movie while promoting Rocketman. 

The Hate U Give – Marketing Recap

the hate you give poster.jpgBased on the groundbreaking book by Audrey Wells The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr (Amandla Stenberg), a young black woman who lives in the poor part of time but goes to school at an elite – and mostly white – high school. She balances both worlds in various ways, being part of each community when she can.

That balance is disrupted when her friend Khalil (Algee Smith) is shot by a police officer. Starr is angry and sad and finds she wants to speak up and fight back against the kind of system that would allow such a thing to happen. Both halves of her life, though, are pressuring in different ways and she has to find the courage to carry on despite all that.

(Note: This came out a couple weeks ago in limited release and I just missed it because the official release date I was using to plan my recaps listed 10/19. No oversight or slight was intended.)

The Posters

The first and only poster is a variation on the original book cover art, showing Starr holding up a sign with the movie’s title.

Debra Cartwright, the artist who designed that original book cover, had some thoughts on both creating that first work and its use for theatrical key art as well as the casting of a light-skinned girl, which runs counter to the dark-skinned figure seen on the novel.

The Trailers

We meet Starr and get a glimpse of her life in the first trailer, seeing all the people and places in her neighborhood, including a local boy who’s crushing on her. She explains how she code-switches when she leaves home to attend a magnet high school, turning into a whole different version of herself. When she’s out with Khalil one night he’s shot by police during a DWB-inspired stop, throwing her whole world into chaos. Many encourage her to stay quiet, especially after being pressured by police, but Starr insists on speaking up and speaking out because she knows what happened wasn’t right.

Online and Social

It’s a pretty standard content offering on the movie’s official website, which features videos, a synopsis, photos and more along with links to official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles. The one section worth calling out is the “Educator Resources,” which links to an outside website where teachers can download study and discussion guides to help foster and direct conversations about the movie’s story and themes.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The studio sponsored a presence for the movie at VidCon, the popular gather of video creators and media companies who want to get their attention. Later on Barnes & Noble announced it would hold discussion forums for the book at select locations around the country.

The first TV spot starts out playing much like the first trailer, but then dives more deeply into how the shooting she witnesses and her role following that impacts the code-switched life she leads at the magnet high school she attends.

One of the featurettes below was used as a Promoted Tweet with a link to buy tickets.

Media and Publicity

The first publicity for the film was not great. YouTube personality Kian Lawley was originally cast as Chris and most all the movie shot with him. It was only then that controversy developed because of past videos from Lawley where he used racially offensive language in a dead-serious way. That was doubly troubling because of the story’s subject matter. So his role was recast with Apa in that role and much of the movie reshot from scratch, something Steinberg and director George Tillman Jr. spoke about while Fox was promoting the film at CinemaCon. Around that same time a first still was released.

Not only did it appear at VidCon but Angie Thomas, the author of the source novel, appeared with the director and cast at various book and literary events and conventions. VidCon attendees also received a sneak peek at the teaser for the movie before it was released shortly thereafter during the BET Awards.

The movie was announced as one of those screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. It later appeared at the Hamptons Film Festival, where it won the audience award.

Stenberg was among those featured in Variety’s issue focusing on rising young talent, giving her an opportunity to talk about inclusivity in genre films, her career so far and more. Around that same time Thomas and Tillman spoke about the events that inspired the story and how it came to be adapted into a film, respectively.

The first clip released showed Starr coming to terms with the violence she’s witnessed and which is part of everyone’s life, with her father explaining it’s a trap other people fall into.

Around the time of Toronto a featurette was released showing the entire cast as well as Tillman talking about the story and its themes and how both are as timely now as they’ve ever been.

Toronto provided plenty of opportunities for the cast and crew to talk about the film, with Hornsby talking about the stakes for his career in playing Starr’s father, everyone explaining what the movie means to them, Stenberg clarifying for the white people in the back that “post-racial America” isn’t a thing that’s ever been, and everyone addressing the issue of supposed color-blindness.

It was also announced as among the films screening at the Urbanworld Film Festival. It was later revealed Def Jam would release the soundtrack for the movie. Tillman later talked about the themes and story elements of the movie.

A series of free screenings were arranged by Fox for youth organizations both to speak to those organizations and hopefully generate some word of mouth.

Hornsby was interviewed about how the powerful script had him hooked immediately while the whole cast offered their thoughts on how they approached the story and their characters, including how they drew inspiration from real people in their lives.

Just a couple weeks ago screenwriter Audrey Wells passed away suddenly, which prompted Stenberg to speak about how she collaborated with the director and writer on molding the story.

How Lawley was removed from the film and replaced with Apa came back up closer to release, including new details of just when the controversial comments were made and how they impacted everyone involved.

Regina Hall has been in a number of things recently, but her appearance on “Kimmel” included promotion of this movie. Stenberg also showed up on a number of talk shows both in the morning and late night to talk about the movie and share other amusing stories.

There was a whole mini-campaign launched focused on the #ReplaceHate message. That kicked off with ashort spot featuring the cast holding up signs featuring different words such as “empathy” plugged in where “hate” is in the title. Additional spots featured Stenberg as well as actual fans participating and spreading the message.


I’m more than a little shocked this hasn’t been more fervently used as a whipping post by Fox News or, if it has, that such commentary hasn’t been covered by the mainstream entertainment trade press. Considering its high profile and powerful message, you’d think Ted Cruz or someone would have a strong opinion on how it’s corrupting our youth by teaching them to not be deferential to the police or something.

Snark aside, this seems like the crown jewel in the recent wave of movies featuring #BlackLivesMatter and other racial themes and stories. It carries a very positive message about standing up for what you believe in even if the world is telling you to sit down. And if the movie encourages a few more people to understand what “code-switching” is and how those around them use it, so much the better.

Picking Up The Spare

The cast talks here about their own experiences with microaggressions at school and how those have impacted their lives.

Nice profile of Angie Thomas, the author of the book, and how she’s using the buzz around the movie to take her career to a new level.

The movie’s appearance at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival allowed Stenberg to speak more about the emotional nature of the story.

Author Angie Thomas speaks here about the process behind bringing her book to the movies.

Bad Times at the El Royale – Marketing Recap

Bad Time at the El Royale, the new movie from writer/director Drew Goddard, appears to very much be my jam. That’s because, as I state in my Hollywood Reporter-hosted recap of the film’s marketing, it looks like a throwback to the kind of ensemble thrillers that were vervasive in the early and mid-90s, when I was cutting my cinematic teeth.

Online and Social

The movie’s website is primarily interested in selling you tickets, but it also has a collection of trailers and other “Videos” as well as a synopsis and gallery of images. At the bottom of the page are links to the movie’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles.

Media and Publicity

The movie was one of those Fox showed off to exhibitors and press at the annual CinemaCon conference. Goddard offered a few comments alongside a first look photo.

There was an extensive profile of Hemsworth in mid-August that featured the actor not only talking about this film but also his career to date, which generated quite a number of headlines. Costar Cynthia Erivo also spoke about how this marked one of a couple film projects she had coming out this fall and how she’s making the shift from the theater stage to more film roles.

Bridges hit the talk show circuit in late September, just as Fantastic Fest reviews were hitting. A bit later Fanning followed suit.

It later was scheduled for the Rome Film Festival. There was also a new focus in the publicity on Erivo, who was also being noticed in a couple other current and upcoming movies.

Goddard, as a fairly well-known name in the industry, was the subject of a couple interviews where he talked about making what feels like a throwback to 25 years ago, working with the ensemble cast and more.


chris hemsworth bad times el royale dancing

Picking Up The Spare

Goddard talks here about the work he put into assembling the film’s era-appropriate soundtrack and here about getting the affably likable Chris Hemsworth to tap into a dark side.

Another profile of breakout star Cynthia Erivo here.

The Predator – Marketing Recap

Here’s how Fox marketing the Shane Black-directed nostalgia action movie THE PREDATOR.

the predator poster 2After lackluster receptions for the last few outings in the franchise, including two movies also featuring the xenomorphs from the Aliens movies, The Predator hits screens this week. Directed and co-written by Shane Black, the new movie sees the relentless hunters returning to Earth after they’re accidentally summoned by a young boy (Jacob Tremblay). Once here they are hunted down by a ragtag group of scientists and soldiers played by Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Boyd Holbrook, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane and others.

The expected opening around $30 million would be good for 20th Century Fox, though what future a franchise like this might have under Disney management remains unclear. It would be enough to top Crazy Rich Asians, which continues to perform extraordinarily well, even gaining the weekend of 8/31 from the prior frame.

The Posters

The first bit of marketing done came in the form of a motion poster released via the official movie app which shows the outline of the creature in a series of lightning bolts. What the might signify about the story was unclear at the time.

At the same time as the second trailer, another poster was released. Against a bright orange background we see the decapitated head of a regular Predator being clutched in the hand of what we can assume here is the much larger Predator.

A third one-sheet in early August promised “The hunt has evolved” while showing the familiar thermal image outline of the title creature.

The Dolby Cinema exclusive poster features a Predator head that’s made up or human skulls, which is a slightly creepy image. For IMAX, “The hunt is bigger” on that poster showing the glowing targeting eye of the creature honing in on the camera. The purple and greens on that one evoke the heat-vision that’s been part of the franchise without going specifically in that direction.

The Trailers

Rory opens a package as the teaser trailer (4.6 million views on YouTube), released in May, opens and immediately starts pushing buttons on the mysterious, obviously alien items someone has sent him, making me wonder if he has ever watched any horror or science-fiction movie ever made because you just don’t do that, Rory! That seems to be what attracts the aliens back to Earth. Quinn being debriefed by some government official is intercut with scenes of the kinds of attacks the crew is subjected to as they go to investigate what’s happened. All that as Bracket warns the aliens are “attempting hybridization,” seeking to combine their DNA with that of humans, something that would presumably make them more difficult to spot and therefore more dangerous.

The second trailer (8.7 million views on YouTube) from June is less concerned with relatable, Amblin-esque table setting and more in just getting to the alien versus human fights. The framing device of Quinn being debriefed is used as we see the team assembled and out hunting Predators, including the new bonus-sized version that seems to be leading the invasion. There’s lots of wise-cracking and violence, which is exactly what the audience is looking for.

The final trailer (4.9 million views on YouTube) from late August hits all the major selling points in much stronger fashion than what’s come before. It’s fast-paced, funny, filled with gory violence and more, all exactly what the audience is assumed to be looking for. There are a handful of great lines that more clearly identify this as a Shane Black script than the previous versions as well.

Online and Social

On the official website you’ll find the standard Fox template in use, a design that offers a variety of videos including the trailers and more, the posters, a gallery of stills and curated social updates. There are also links to the film’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles as well as a section for the “Fan App” that launched last year and which has offered fans a variety of exclusive content and other material.

Advertising and Promotions

There’s lots of action but also a fair amount of humor in the first TV spot released in mid-August. While it certainly sells the idea of the “ultimate Predator” being the threat everyone is chasing down, it also has more than a hint of A-Team vibe about it, especially in the line about “a team that’s mental.”

Further commercials focused on selling the slightly insane team that’s been assembled or on the breathless attempts to remain alive while hunting the ultimate hunter. An IMAX-specific spot was all about selling the biggest Predator yet on the biggest screen available.

the predator pic 3

Online ads used the key art of the Predator as seen through heat vision goggles to make sure everyone knows this is tied securely to the original films. Social ads used the trailer and other videos.

Promotional partners for the movie include:

  • T-Mobile, which offered customers $4 tickets to the see the movie along with a sweepstakes to enter.
  • Carl’s Jr., which offered soda cups featuring movie branding.
  • Indian Motorcycle, though what that partnership looked like is unclear as there’s no information on the site or otherwise readily available.
  • Lootcrate, which put an exclusive Predator mask in its DX premium box for subscribers.
  • FYE, which showcased its collection of home video, toys, apparel and more related to the franchise.

Media and Publicity

the predator promoThings started off relatively out of nowhere. After years of silence about the project a piece of teaser art was shared on the Predator Facebook page (maintained by the studio to serve the nostalgia for the older movies) in February, 2016 that signalled a new movie was coming.

The movie got some big placement in Entertainment Weekly’s San Diego Comic-Con issue, which included an interview with Key as well as first look stills from production. Several months later Black hit the stage as part of Fox’s CinemaCon presentation to talk about the movie and show off some footage to exhibitors and press. The movie was also part of the later CineEurope presentation from the studio.

The director then brought the primary cast to San Diego Comic-Con this past July for a panel presentation that had them all talking about the big action and big humor in the movie.

Key was the subject of a feature profile in CNET Magazine that had him talking about why he took on an action movie project like this, how it fits into all the other choices he’s made in his career and lots more.

Fox announced it would be bringing the cast and crew to San Diego Comic-Con. In EW’s special issue for the convention, Black talked about creating an extreme Predator and what it meant for the story. At the convention itself the panel featuring the cast included them talking about the massive alien battles the movie will contain but also how funny it will be. Everyone also had fun afterward when they showed up on “Conan.” Black also explained how the cast tried to undermine his authority to hilarious results and talked about revisiting the franchise.

Toy company NECA created an action figure featuring the likeness of director Shane Black that was offered as an exclusive at San Diego Comic-Con.

Black and members of the cast appeared in a featurette to talk about how they wanted to live up to the legacy of the Predator series and how this new movie kicks the menace and terror up a few notches. Around the same time the “Predator Challenge” was shared that had the cast debating hypothetical matchups of the Predator versus other fictional characters, including the Punisher, Psylocke and others played by some of those actors themselves.

Further featurettes focused on using clips from the previous movies to show how to outsmart a Predator, one that offers more of a background on the team of misfits, An exclusive AMC Theaters featurette offered behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew.

The week prior to release GQ shared the manifesto/mission statement Black wrote prior to filming to lay out his vision for the movie and his attitude about making it.

It was announced in mid-August the movie would screen at the Toronto Film Festival as “Midnight Madness” selection. That appearance was put under a cloud, though, when reports surfaced that Munn had become aware one of the actors she shared a short scene with was convicted sexual predator. Fox cut the scene featuring the actor, a longtime friend of Black, almost immediately before it was shown to Toronto attendees. Black introduced that screening but did not stick around for a later Q&A.

the predator pic1

That wasn’t the end of the story, though, as it slowly came out the studio hadn’t been quite as fast to act as it first seemed, reportedly not getting back to Munn’s initial calls. Not only that, but the actress was then largely left on her own to do what otherwise should have been group interviews at Toronto. Brown and others Tweeted or otherwise issued statements offering their support for her after the fact, but that seems to have been too little too late as this was now the narrative around the film.

A clip released around the time of Toronto showed the two Predators going at each other.


While the campaign overall has been pretty good, hitting all the old familiar beats while still promising something new, it remains to be seen how much that will actually matter in the final tally.

So the question here is: How much will the events and revelations of the last week impact the movie’s reception.

There’s the chance that the likely male-heavy target audience who yearns for the big, macho action flicks of the 80s to return won’t have their minds changed. They’ll say “not all men” and go on about their business, enjoying whatever callbacks and references to the originals this new installment has.

If the studio was hoping for any sort of female support, though, that’s probably evaporated. The story has moved from the Hollywood trades to the mainstream entertainment press, so it’s out there for anyone to see and consider. And it’s become part of a bigger story that includes Les Moonves’ golden parachute showing #MeToo still isn’t holding powerful men accountable and the overtly sexist/racist reaction to Serena Williams protesting an extremely questionable ruling at the U.S. Open.

Let’s put it this way: If the opening weekend box office comes in under $30 million, the assumption is going to be that at least some audiences stayed away because they did not want to support a studio that only has its talent’s back behind the scenes and not in public. The whole picture has been tainted, coloring the reception of the film in a way that’s hard to ignore.


Costar Boyd Holbrook finally found his voice and offered his support for Olivia Munn in the wake of the controversy surrounding the casting of a sexual predator in the movie. Munn herself continued talking about how she felt singled out and hung out to dry by the others in the cast.

Keegan-Michael Key showed up on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie.

Another IMAX-exclusive featurette with the cast.

The movie paid to promote this Tweet from UFC, presumably because of some relationship between the two parties.

A short video featuring the “best one-liners” from the whole franchise was released to continue playing up the new movie’s humor and ties to what’s come before. Another focused on the kill count from the original as well as the sequel and the third installment.

Fox teased a new movie-themed “holiday short” that ran during an airing of “Bojack Horseman” on Comedy Central, all promoting its home video release. That short was released online later on.