Release Dates Are Moving, Impacting Marketing Campaigns

The announcements are coming fast and furious now.

It’s been just over a week since MGM announced it was delaying the release of the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, in response to concerns over the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Moving it from April to November meant taking a financial hit of around $30 million, but that was seen as preferable to putting public health at risk.

Within the last 24 hours there have been a number of other such announcements. Paramount has pushed out the release of both The Lovebirds and A Quiet Place Part II to later this year. Universal has made an even bigger move, shifting the release of F9 all the way to next year, while Disney finally broke its silence and announced Mulan and The New Mutants were being postponed, though Black Widow is still scheduled as planned.

new mutants pic

The reasons why are understandable and rational. Many cities and states have begun not only canceling their own events but encouraging private organizations to shut down mass gatherings. The NBA, NHL and MLS have both suspended their seasons. All of this is to, as they say, flatten the curve of what’s now understood to be a pandemic and slow the infection rate.

It’s interesting that this is all happening at this moment given there have been two recent cases of movies coming out after long delays, though the reasons weren’t quite as severe as this. Sonic The Hedgehog was moved several months when the initial trailers were met with poor audience reactions resulting in reworked special effects. And this week The Hunt hits theaters after a controversy over its subject matter cased Universal to pull it from the schedule late last year, waiting until the fire had died down a bit.

In both cases, the marketing campaigns were restarted when the studio put new release dates in place, after the situations in question had been resolved in some manner. And so they provide some template as to what may happen when the Covid-19 situation infection rate slows in the U.S..

Given all of these were as little as a week and as much as a month out from release, their marketing campaigns were already well underway. TV spots were running, online ads were driving ticket sales, talk show appearances were booked and happening and other promotional events were being organized.

These campaigns are big trains that don’t just come to an immediate stop. No doubt there will be a few lingering commercials and ads seen in the next few days as programmatically-bought campaigns run out the clock.

What Comes Next

Given the examples offered by Sonic and The Hunt as well as X-Men: Dark Phoenix and other movies that have come out long after they were originally meant to, it’s reasonable to assume a few things about the campaigns that will need to be relaunched:

First, expect them to restart about a month out from release. That’s the period in which a movie’s standard marketing push shifts into high gear, looking to lock down moviegoer intent and capture the general audience’s attention.

Second, expect all new marketing assets. The relaunch of the campaign will likely kick off with a new trailer, or at least a reworked version of an existing one, and a new poster or two that feature the new release date. These will be essential to educating the audience about what to expect and drive renewed interest.

Third, expect a new round of press and publicity. Many of these movies, especially a tentpole like F9, have already been featured in cover stories and their stars profiled in various interviews. So while Vin Diesel, Emily Blunt and others have already made the talk show rounds they might have to do so again in the weeks leading up to release. Again, this is an essential part of generating awareness.

f9 pic

All of that being said, there are some moments that will be impossible to replicate. The Lovebirds was scheduled to screen at SXSW, as were scores of other films, until that event was canceled. And yesterday CinemaCon, which has frequently served as a platform for studios to roll out first-look footage and appearances from major stars, was ixnayed.

It may be that such big promotional moments have simply vanished and are no longer available, so the studios may have to create their own pop-ups or simply write them off.

No Time To Die and F9 were two of this spring’s biggest releases, but others remain (as of this writing) on the schedule, but there may not be enough product in the market for theaters to remain open even if they want to. More announcements could be imminent, with additional campaigns paused and restarted. Given the pace that’s emerged in sporting leagues suspending their seasons, nothing would be surprising at this point.

There are things the studio teams can do, but they all mean asking audiences to take a second bite at the apple, hoping their attention hasn’t moved on to other subjects at a later date. Also a concern now is if the infrequent ticketbuying that’s already become evident becomes even more common with so many streaming options available.

Whatever happens, we’re looking at marketing schedules that are timed with surgical precision be thrown into disarray that’s only moderately controlled.

Picking Up the Spare – Blockers, Lean on Pete, A Quiet Place and More

6 Balloons

There have been a few profiles of Abbi Jacobson in the wake of the movie’s release, most of which focus on how different this is from “Broad City,” which she’s most widely known for and her first real dramatic role.

Blockers

Similarly, director Kay Cannon has received lots of additional press, including lots of takes like this and this that focus on how it’s the latest in an emerging trend of movies that include a gay romance that’s treated as if it’s no big deal and just as normal and traumatizing as a hetero love interest storyline.

There’s also this profile of Kathryn Newton, who plays one of the girls in the movie who’s part of the sex pact and who has been in a number of high-profile films and series in the last year or so.

Lean on Pete

Star Charlie Plummer was interviewed here about all aspects of the movie, from being cast in the role to the kind of story he and the others were trying to tell to working with the horse he stars alongside.

A Quiet Place

In addition to a few more features about how married costars John Krasinksi and Emily Blunt worked together for the first time there was also Krasinski in his role as director talking about how he pushed to cast a deaf actress, specifically Millicent Simmonds.

Beirut

More interviews popped as the movie neared release, including chats with Rosamund Pike and director Tony Gilroy.

I’ve also begun seeing a lot more online ads for the movie, most of which use the key art of Hamm in sunglasses with Pike behind him. There’s likely a lot of retargeting going on as a result of my visiting the movie’s website.

Come Sunday

Lakeith Stanfield talks here about prepping for the role of a church musician in the movie.

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

Picking Up the Spare: Game Over Man, The Last Movie Star and More

Game Over, Man

I’m not sure what the point of this “VR Experience” for the Netflix-original movie was other than to show what stoned losers the main characters are, but it’s kind of amusing in and of itself.

The Last Movie Star

There’s a new music video featuring footage from the movie for one of the songs off the soundtrack by Stranger Friends, one of the 12 the young band has on the album.

Love After Love

Another interview with Andie MacDowell about her career and taking on the role in the movie.

Blockers

Leslie Mann has done a few additional press stops including an appearance on “Late Night” to promote the movie and talk about John Cena’s butt.

Director Kay Cannon has given a couple of post-release interviews like this one where she continued talking about creating a raunchy but also emotional comedy.

This is a great example of the kind of story that’s been common throughout the movie’s publicity cycle, one that focuses on rebranding Cena as a comedy star.

Lean on Pete

Director Andrew Haugh speaks here about how he worked to tell the story of working-class residents of the Pacific Northwest in an authentic, respectful and non-cliche way.

You Were Never Really Here

A joint interview here with Joaquin Phoenix and Lynne Ramsay about the working relationship they developed and the story they were trying to tell in the movie.

Annihilation

Great points here at Indiewire that if Paramount found the movie was going to be too tough a sell, that’s partly because of a system that emphasizes IP-based movies and other blockbusters. And if audiences are upset by the movie heading (in international markets) quickly to Netflix, it’s partly because they’ve failed to turn out for difficult, complex movies and made studios question their commercial viability.

Pandas

While I didn’t cover the campaign for the documentary, I couldn’t not mention that an AR app was launched by IMAX that allowed users to see a anthropomorphized panda in the real world they could ask questions to. You can see the trailer here.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Screenwriter Tony Gilroy has made comments about the troubled state of affairs he inherited prior to the much-discussed reshoots the film underwent. I’m not a huge fan of people throwing others under the bus like this, but that was a significant part of the movie’s pre-release media coverage.

A Quiet Place

The movie’s sound design has been a major topic of conversation in the press coverage and reviews, so it’s good that the team behind that work has finally gotten a profile of their own.

Director/star John Krasinski and costar/wife Emily Blunt talk here about what, if any, political messages the movie has for audiences.

Outside In

Star Edie Falco has done a bit more press than she did prior to release, including this “Late Night” appearance where she joked around with host Seth Meyers.

Chappaquiddick

Also getting in on the late night circuit is Jason Clarke, who still oddly dominates the press cycle for this movie over costar Kate Mara. I guess that’s the advantage of playing a Kennedy.

The Death of Stalin

Writer/director Armando Iannucci talks about the need for dark comedy and gallows humor in the midst of a slightly depressing reality.

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

A Quiet Place – Marketing Recap

a quiet place posterSome sort of invasion of Earth has taken place in the new movie A Quiet Place. The creatures have wiped out vast swaths of the human population and the survivors have learned the only way to stay alive is to remain absolutely quiet because, as the marketing tagline goes, if they hear you, they hunt you.

Providing our viewpoint on this terrifying and largely silent world is a family of four headed by Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (John Krasinski) and which includes their kids Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Regan (Millicent Simmonds). The family has to keep moving to find safety, but movement produces sound, so the dangers are around them at all times. The sci-fi-tinged thriller was directed by Krasinski as well.

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