Noelle – Marketing Recap

Originally meant for theaters, Disney’s holiday feature becomes the latest release to get shunted to streaming.

noelle posterThe idea of Santa Claus being a title passed through a family isn’t exactly new. Fred Claus, Arthur Christmas and other movies have used variations on the conceit to various degrees of success.

Now Disney revisits the premise with Noelle. Anna Kendrick stars as the titular Noelle, Santa’s daughter. With the title of Santa about to be bequeathed to her brother Nick (Bill Hader), she’s in full support mode, ready to help Nick get ready for his big debut. The problem is that Nick doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about the position and Noelle has to do a lot of propping up.

When Nick disappears just days before Christmas things get even more complicated. With the success of the holiday on the line, Noelle has to head down south to find her wayward brother.

Despite the top-line cast – which includes Julie Haggerty, Billy Eichner and others – the movie is coming not to theaters but as one of the launch titles for Disney+, the company’s subscription streaming service launching tomorrow. That lack of confidence in the prospects of the film may be behind some of the choices made in the campaign that’s been run.

The Posters

“Saving Christmas together? Oh joy.”

That’s the tagline used on the only one-sheet (by marketing agency LA) for the film, which shows Noelle and Nick looking at the camera slightly befuddled and less than enthusiastic about where they are. While the sentiment may be one familiar to anyone who’s not thrilled about the social requirements of the holiday season, it’s not one that’s supported by the rest of the campaign. Not only that, it seems directly counter to the story shown in the trailer. There seems to be little thought given to the design, which includes the promotional graphic for Disney+ showing all the brand logos under the company’s umbrella.

The Trailers

We meet Noelle Kringle in the first trailer (3.6 million views on YouTube), released in August at the same time as D23. Her brother Nick is about to assume the mantle of Santa Claus, despite being not that enthused for the job. She tries to help him and encourages him to get away, which he does just before Christmas. It’s her job to find him, then, and sets out to save Christmas but has some very “fish out of water” moments while venturing outside the North Pole. It’s the charm of Kendrick and Hader that make what looks like a cheesy story appear to be somewhat intriguing.

Online and Social

There doesn’t seem to be any official web presence for the film, not even a social profile of its own. Disney+ has given it support on its social channels, but that’s it.

Advertising and Publicity

The start of production, along with an apparent name change, was announced by Kendrick in 2017 on, of course, her Instagram feed. While it was originally meant for theatrical release the movie was pulled by Disney from its schedule and shifted over to what at the time was its unlaunched OTT streaming service, the first feature film to be designated for that platform. It’s inclusion in the catalog of what was eventually known as Disney+ was later confirmed.

Costumes from the movie were on display at D23 in August, where the trailer debuted.

Yahoo! debuted the first clip from the film in early November, showing Noelle trying to get the new Santa ready for his first night out.

An early screening for readers of the Disney Parks Blog was held last week.

Media and Press

There were a few interviews with Kendrick, including an appearance on “Good Morning America” but there doesn’t seem to have been a great deal of effort put into a press push.

Overall

Based on what’s shown of the movie, it absolutely seems like the kind of film that would have received a significant theatrical release 20 years ago. It has a well-liked cast with plenty of name recognition, a charming concept and a sense of familiarity that would have helped attract a decent audience. It would have made $90 million dollars at the box office and been considered a success.

While being part of launch day is a big deal, that the title finds itself on Disney+ is telling not just of how the theatrical marketplace has changed but how much confidence Disney has in anything that’s not part of a franchise brand. The marketing has a distinct lack of enthusiasm feel about it, like the company knew it had to do something with it but didn’t want to divert resources from the meta take on “High School Musical” or the big-budget “The Mandalorian.”

Picking Up the Spare

Kendrick was interviewed by Trevor Noah when she appeared on “The Daily Show” just as the movie was becoming available.

I’ve noticed a handful of online ads like this that lead back to the Disney+ site.

noelle online ad.png

IT Chapter Two – Marketing Recap

You can read my full review of the marketing for It Chapter Two at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

Warner Bros. actually put together a pretty good website for the movie, offering more than just the usual marketing materials. “Videos” has both of the trailers while “Synopsis” is exactly what it sounds like and “Photos” has a small collection of stills. There’s also more information on “Derry Canal Days” – the experiential event hosted in Los Angeles – and the promotional “Partners” that signed on to support the campaign.

Media and Press

Around the time of CinemaCon in 2018, Skarsgård talked about returning to play Pennywise while promoting his role in the “Castle Rock” Stephen King-based series on Hulu. That “Scare Diego” event included an early look at footage and messages from the cast and crew. Chastain revealed some facts about the movie while promoting X-Men: Dark Phoenix earlier this year and Hader talked about it while promoting the second season of “Barry.”

More first looks, particularly of the adult versions of the characters seen in the first movie, came out over time.

The cast and crew talked about where the characters are in the story just before SDCC kicked off.

With so much conversation about deaging actors because of other upcoming movies, director Andy Muschietti pointed out this movie features the same technology being used because the child actors have aged significantly in the couple years since the first movie was shot.

McAvoy spoke about the process of getting ready for the movie and how he prepared to play the adult version of a character previously seen only as a child. Around that same time Muschietti started hinting there was an extended version that combined both movies into a single feature that may see the light of day at some point. He also commented on how he went about filming the hate crime scene from the book, one that was not featured in the earlier TV adaptation. Conversations around the runtime included some details on how the director made the tough decision on what elements to cut.

While at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere Chastain and others spoke about the pressure they did or didn’t feel to live up to the expectations of the first film.

A profile of Hader arrived as the actor is having a moment, with not just this movie but a number of other high-profile projects putting him in the public eye on multiple fronts. The actor also appeared on “The Tonight Show” to joke around with his old “SNL” pal.

Finn Wolfhard – who plays the younger version of Richie – also received a writeup that touched on his role on “Stranger Things” as well.

The movie’s costume designers were apparently freaked out by how Bill Skarsgård embodied the clown they themselves created. Writer Gary Dauberman received some attention as well.

Overall

In addition to what I said at THR, it’s notable that with the exception of 2018’s CinemaCon, the campaign has happened entirely within the last four months. That’s an incredibly consolidated timeline for what had to be one of WB’s biggest releases in the second half of the year and one that was reported to be among the most anticipated by the audience of the fall.

Picking Up the Spare

Skarsgard appeared, sans makeup, on “The Late Show.” Hader showed up on “The Daily Show” while McAvoy appeared on “The Late Show.”

IMAX released a featurette conversation with the filmmakers. Muschietti also spoke here about the pressure of living up to the scares of the original.

A series of characters posters came out after the movie was in theaters.