Picking Up the Spare: Ant-Man and The Wasp, Deadpool 2 and More

Ant-Man and The Wasp

The movie’s successful opening weekend let it run a “#1 movie in the world” TV spot to tout how well it was received.

The search for Janet Van Dyne was almost completely missing from the campaign but now that the movie is out, Marvel released this short video emphasizing it and focusing the Quantum Realm where she disappeared years ago.

Deadpool 2

Fox is promoting the release of the “Uncut” home video release with both a TV spot and a recently-announced screening at San Diego Comic-Con next week. That home video release will include a children’s book that’s absolutely unfit for children.

Also at SDCC, LEGO will be giving away an exclusive “Sheriff Deadpool” minifigure that’s not specifically tied to the movie but is still part of everyone’s general promotions for Deadpool.

Leave No Trace

There’s a new TV spot designed to show off some of the positive reviews the movie has received and help it build on very solid word of mouth.

Avengers: Infinity War

The 10th anniversary celebration that was tied to the movie’s release continues with the release of 10 more character posters to mark the occasion.


Costar Bryon Mann has received a bit more attention in the last few days, with a couple interviews that let him talk about his career, working in his home city of Hong Kong as well as the movie specifically.

Dwayne Johnson started making the late night talk show rounds in the last couple days, including an appearance on “Colbert.”

Hotel Transylvania 3

Kathryn Hahn has made a few media appearances recently, showing up on “Kimmel” to tell stories and promote the movie a bit.

Blade Runner 2049

The movie itself didn’t take off to massive success, but it apparently opened the door to new stories that will be told in comics and books.

Eighth Grade

There’s been a whole wave of stories about writer/director Bo Burnham and his mission to get the movie made and tell the story in a realistic and respectful way. You can see instances of this on Indiewire, Buzzfeed, Variety just to name a few.

The Kissing Booth

The New York Times goes into why the movie has turned out to be so popular, including how Netflix tried to not overhype it.

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

New To Home Video: Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day, The Snowman

Blade Runner 2049

blade runner 2049 poster imaxThe theatrical campaign for the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic original received one of the most innovative, interesting campaigns of 2017, selling the audience on the promise of returning to a world still filled with mysteries and secrets to explore and reveal. There was an emphasis by Warner Bros. to sell the attitude and vibe of the film as opposed to any specific story points, which was part of the strategy to keep as many spoilers out of the conversation as possible.

While that campaign didn’t really connect with fans, it’s entirely possible that now that it’s on home video it will find a broader audience more willing to give it a shot and see what they missed in theaters.

Continue reading “New To Home Video: Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day, The Snowman”

Picking Up The Spare: Justice League, The Florida Project, Coco and More

Justice League

Warner Bros. worked with GIF platform Tenor (a Giphy competitor) on a sponsored Justice League GIF keyboard app takeover, offering exclusive GIFs from the film. That effort was promoted with a social media campaign as well.

justice league poster 31That Superman’s part in the story was now public knowledge also meant the release of a new poster and banner that included him in the team lineup. These used the same artwork as was previously released, just with Superman now filling in a conspicuous gap.

Slightly spoilerish, but here’s a list of scenes from the trailers that didn’t make it into the finished film. Also kind of tipping the hat is a picture shared by Joe Manganiello of him in full Deathstroke gear.

Cavill was finally allowed to speak for himself and talk about Superman’s role in the story, including how the character changed due to the events of Batman v Superman.

justice league gilette twitter adGillette continues to run social media ads for its movie-branded products, with a link to purchase those items at Walmart.

More details on the IMAX virtual reality experience that was offered in select cities here.

Much like Suicide Squad last year, reports are starting to emerge that studio micromanaging heavily influenced the final structure and tone of the film, something that’s been much-discussed by fanboys who believe there’s some magical, unadulterated “Snyder Cut” of the movie sitting in an archive somewhere.

The Florida Project

Another profile of director Sean Baker that presents him as a Hollywood outsider who’s eager to maintain that status and keep making his indie features.


Insights from writer/director Lee Unkrich and others here on how he and the rest of the Pixar team worked hard to make sure the movie was respectful of the culture being portrayed as possible. The same topic is covered here as well.

Actress Natalia Cordova-Buckley shared her thoughts on voicing the late real life artist Frida Kahlo and the experiences that led her to embrace such a challenge.

Lady Bird

Writer/director Greta Gerwig has continued making media appearances like this one to talk about the film and the satisfaction she felt by finally directing.

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Director Dan Gilroy and star Denzel Washington talked here about how the former wrote the part specifically for the latter and how Washington boarded the project, helping to shape the character as filming went on.


Another interview here with writer/director Maggie Betts on the inspiration for the story and how she tackled such sensitive material.

Beauty and the Beast

The movie is returning to theaters in what appears to be not only an attempt to reach holiday audiences but also remind awards season voters of the costume design and more.

Call Me By Your Name

Buzzfeed posted a hit-piece on star Armie Hammer, pegging him as an entitled white guy who gets multiple shots at stardom because of his position while others are quickly discarded after multiple misfires. Hammer reacted to the piece in what is a pretty appropriate manner.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Director Martin McDonagh spoke here about how he found star Francis McDormand and worked with her to get the story’s tone right.

A new short TV spot hits some of the same beats as were seen in the main campaign but with the addition of plenty of positive critics quotes.

There have also been some new character posters released that show the three leads surrounded by positive quotes praising the movie.

Blade Runner 2049

Director Denis Villeneuve offers some time-enhanced thoughts on making the movie and developing the characters in this interview.

Beach Rats

Director Eliza Hittman talks about the view of masculinity and other topics taken in the film here.

The Disaster Artist

A couple new TV spots have been released by A24, one that shows the enthusiasm of Wiseau in making the movie and one that shows he refuses to accept the negativity of others.

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

Picking Up the Spare: Marshall, Spider-Man: Homecoming and More


There’s a new poster that arranges the members of the cast in a courtroom. This is selling it as a straight procedural drama, free of any historical context.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

TV spots promoting the home video encourage the audience to make the movie part of a “family movie night,” emphasizing the all-ages nature of the story.

Transformers: The Last Knight

Caterpillar is running ads promoting a sweepstakes to win a custom industrial-strength toolbox.

The Dark Tower

The exact same approach used to sell the movie theaters is being used to sell it on home video if TV commercials like this are any indication. How’d that work out again?

The Florida Project

Another feature profile of director Sean Baker appeared on Wired where he talked about the freedom and constraints that came with having a much bigger budget than he did on his previous films.

Blade Runner 2049

The movie’s overt product placement has come under some criticism, which as this post points out, may actually be because of the organic, natural way brands were worked into the original movie.

Only the Brave

TheWrap has a feature on how the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots went from the pages of GQ to the big screen.

Picking up the Spare: Kingsman, Blade Runner 2049, The Mountain Between Us

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

  • Old Forester, the bourbon brand that helped with marketing tie-ins, is running paid Twitter ads promoting the movie with a sweeepstakes awarding a trip to “Bourbon Country.”

Blade Runner 2049

  • Everyone is discussing this interview with Ford and Gosling on a British morning TV show that devolves into constant laughter so why not share it here too.

The Mountain Between Us

  • Idris Elba graces the cover of Entertainment Weekly because of his starring role in this and a number of other movies coming out this fall.


  • While the ad isn’t specifically part of the movie’s campaign, a new Burger King ad in Germany uses it as the basis for a new push reminding the audience they should never trust a clown.

Blade Runner 2049 – Marketing Recap

Warner Bros. has had its work cut out for it in putting together a marketing push for Blade Runner 2049 on a number of fronts.

First, it’s a sequel to what has long been considered one of the greatest standalone science fiction movies of all time. 1982’s Blade Runner is just about perfect as it is, despite all the different version and edits that have muddied the waters over the years. It’s moody and tense, with deep, rich characters living a fully-realized world and a story that contains not only deep details but also overarching mysteries that have driven countless conversations and arguments.

Second, it’s another in a long line of “legacy sequels” a format that hasn’t fared well in the last couple years. Audiences, it seems, just aren’t that interested in catching up with Derek Zoolander, the various characters of Independence Day and other movies. They want something that’s both new and familiar and these offerings, which often simply remake the original but with different characters, haven’t caught fire.

So it’s into this market that WB releases Blade Runner 2049. As the title suggests, the story has moved forward 30 years from the 2019 setting of the original. Society is balanced on the brink of collapse, a situation that could be further destabilized when K (Ryan Gosling), an LAPD officer, discovers a secret tied to the history of Replicants, the “more human than human” constructs first created by the Tyrell Corporation and now manufactured by Niander Wallace (Jared Leto). K’s investigation opens a lot of boxes people would rather stay closed. To help him he seeks out the legendary Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford), now living the life of a recluse.

The Posters

The first poster wasn’t much more than a title treatment. In the background though is a starry sky, with a few trees or other figures visible in the dark of the night. Surely this hints at something, right?

Two character posters were released next, one showing Deckard walking through a dusty, barren environment and the other showing K walking through the fog next to his police vehicle. Neither offers machine the way of hints as to the story and both recreate looks first seen in the teaser trailer but still, any new looks at this movie were welcome.

Two versions of a theatrical one-sheet were released, one that featured a standard photo collage of the main characters, the left side of the image with Gosling red and fiery, the right side with Ford blue and colder. A slight variation on that added some digital billboards to the backgrounds on both sides and smudged the photos a bit to make it look more artistic.

The hot/cold dichotomy of the characters was continued on a couple character posters featuring the two leads. An IMAX-specific poster used the same hot and cold sides of the design but eliminated the secondary characters, just focusing on IMAX and the two leads. That layout also appeared in a motion poster.

A series of banners combined a number of character posters into a single image, with the title spread out across the whole thing. Some featured just the main five actors/characters, others an additional five supporting characters.


The Trailers

The “Announcement” trailer starts off with a bit of dialogue from the original over new footage of the same L.A. we saw in the first movie before cutting to a scene of K walking through some sort of desert, past a fallen monument and into an abandoned building. Now there’s new dialog from Deckard as the camera shows him emerging from the shadows, his gun drawn and pointed at K.

Holy cow. Whatever concerns I had about this movie have been completely erased. It has a mood, it has a style and it has more. While my guess is this overplays Ford’s role in the picture a bit, what else are you going to do to market this movie?

We’re immediately thrown into the environment of the story in the full trailer, which starts out showing Wallace talking about how he’s working as fast as he can to create a disposable workforce. Lt. Joshi talks about the war that’s inevitable if the two opposing sides realize there’s no wall. K finds and confronts Deckard and the two spend at least some of the time working together, evading the people who are after them like they’re trying to find out the truth of something. Lots of shots of the overall look and feel of the movie, along with music that sounds like an updated version of the iconic Vangelis-penned theme from the original and some vague story hints round things out.

It’s pretty darn effective. Gosling is stoic and on-point in a story that looks like it takes his role as a police officer and turns him into a rule-breaking vigilante of sorts. Ford’s role looks very specific and I’m still not convinced he’s in more than 30 minutes of the movie. Indeed his appearance may actually be a look at the finale of the movie. Outside of all that there are lots of lines about bubbling conflicts, secrets being uncovered and so on. One thing that jumped out at me is that the Atari symbol on the billboard, something that was seen in the original movie, shows that the filmmakers are staying true to that timeline and not trying to “update” it based on the real world.

The second trailer offers a bit more information about the story. Officer K starts out by confronting what seems to be a rogue Replicant before he goes on to search for Deckard and learn more about the history of the Replicants. It’s clear, though, that there are powerful people who don’t want Deckard found and certain secrets revealed. When he does find Deckard the two go on the run while various forces around them seek to bring them in for their own reasons.

Yep, still on board. It’s a solid trailer where the only real issue I have is that some scenes can be interpreted as containing major story revelations. Still, I’m not going to nitpick about that because it’s very, very cool.

Online and Social

The “hot/cold” key art appears at the top of the Tumblr-hosted official website with prompts to watch the trailer and get tickets prominently displayed. There’s also a button toward the bottom of the front page with the “Road to 2049,” an animated timeline that covers the events of the first movie as well as what’s transpired in the 30 years between movies. That includes some of what’s seen in a series of short films produced by different filmmakers which is covered more below.

The first content section in the menu is “Story,” which offers a very brief Synopsis that tells you little about the actual story details but does explain what sets K on a search for Deckard. “Partners” just has the information on Johnnie Walker’s movie-branded whiskey, which, again, is covered more below.

If you scroll down the site you’ll encounter lots of GIFs, images and videos, all of which can be sorted in the “Gallery” menu.

They’re not linked anywhere I can see on the site, but there were also Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles for the movie as well.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Two TV spots started off the paid television campaign, one that asked a handful of questions and one that offered a few answers. Both continued the trend of selling the movie based on a combination of dark, edgy visuals and the promise of a mystery that needs to be unlocked. Another extended TV spot shows that Officer K is being tasked with erasing Deckard from the world while also making it more clear that Wallace is searching for him as well.

There were a few promotional partner companies who signed on, including:

  • Atari, which made special hats that included their own speakers to really bring the gaming experience fully into your ears.
  • Johnnie Walker, which offered a limited special edition whiskey in a custom bottle to mark the drink’s inclusion in the movie.

The shorter of those character poster compilations mentioned above, along with two banners that show either K or Deckard walking toward their vehicle of choice, were likely used as outdoor billboards.

Various videos, including this “Plan” TV spot, were used over the course of the last few weeks before release as ads on Twitter and Facebook.

Warner Bros. became one of the first companies to use Snapchat’s new paid 3-D World Lenses ad unit, creating a virtual flying car from the movie that could be overlaid onto the real world.

Media and Publicity

The publicity cycle started with a one-two punch, first the announcement of the movie’s title and then the news of a VR experience, though that release focused more on the technology than the potential story.

The stars talked about the movie for a while in advance of the actual publicity campaign while they were promoting other projects. That included comments by Gosling while he was touting La La Land that Ford isn’t in the movie as much as people might expect or hope.

Shortly after the first trailer dropped there was a bit of a press push featuring an EW cover for its’ 2017 preview issue that included interviews with Gosling and other members of the cast as well as a couple first-look photos. There was also a similar feature in Empire. The second trailer debuted at the end of a cast Q&A with Ford and Gosling.

Villeneuve spoke fairly often about how conscious he was of the shoes he was stepping into and how he had to come to terms with the possibility he might fall on his face with the movie.

To mark the 35th anniversary of the first movie’s release a new featurette was released that contained quite a bit of new footage and provided a bit more detail about this movie and its story.

Everyone involved, including Villeneuve and Gosling, kept talking about how they wanted to remain true to the sequel’s roots, how unbelievable it was to be involved in something like this and more.

The movie got a big push at San Diego Comic-Con, with a panel featuring the movie’s stars and director. On the show floor fans could wait in line for a VR experience and walk through a life-size replica of a street scene from the movie. At the panel and elsewhere Ford, Gosling and Villeneuve all talked about the movie, with Ford sharing how he got back into the role of Deckard and a timeline showing the audience some of the major replicant-related events have transpired since the end of the first movie.

A little over a month before release a short film titled “2036: Nexus Dawn” was released that filled in some of the gaps between 2019 and 2049. That continued with “2048: Nowhere to Run” and then with “Black Out 2022,” a short anime that garnered lots of attention for its stylish look and feel.

Villeneuve kept reiterating how much he didn’t want to just copy the original but bring something new and fresh and essential to the sequel while still committing to the continuation of the overall aesthetic that first movie created.

The famously grouchy and tight-lipped Ford was the subject of a Vanity Fair cover story that touched on his career, his attitude toward the business, what made him sign on for this sequel and more, including the story of how he accidentally punched Gosling in the face while shooting an action sequence.

Just before release, it became clear that the visual style of the movie would be a major selling point, a focus reinforced by stories like this that specifically covered the design of the costumes.

Ford and Gosling, in particular, did a number of other media interviews and appearances, often talking about an infamous on-set incident where Ford accidentally punched his co-star during a stunt sequence as well as the return of the older star to yet another role from early in his career. That also includes Gosling hosting “Saturday Night Live” the weekend before release, reminding everyone he’s a pretty gifted comedian.


The core question here has to be this: Does the campaign overcome the legitimate and serious concerns a generation of fans has that this sequel is going to tarnish, disrespect or diminish the original? Is a continuation of the story even necessary after so many years of it living on its own, with only a few easily-forgotten spinoffs popping up here and there?

Based on WB has put together here, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Not only does the marketing itself sell a movie that’s a stylish, colorful sci-fi noir, but it’s reinforced the idea that the filmmakers wanted to remain consistent with the iconic look and feel of the original, a point made over and over again in the publicity efforts.

I can only speak for myself, but the campaign has worn down whatever resistance I initially felt for the idea of a sequel, which first seemed to me like cynical move to wring more value from an IP that was just sitting on the shelf, sadly unmonetized. Unlike other “legacy sequel” campaigns, it hasn’t used the promise a return to old and familiar characters as its central value proposition, though the prominent role of Deckard in the marketing and Ford in the publicity certainly takes that approach.

Instead, it’s more about selling the audience on the idea of following up with the repercussions of the events of the first movie and seeing what impact they had on the world the movies are set in. While I might have some issues with the short films that fill in story gaps, those are minor compared to how anxious I am to see what a new set of characters and filmmakers can make of the Blade Runner concept.


To the surprise of no one, director Denis Villeneuve didn’t want to include Harrison Ford in any of the film’s marketing, preferring to keep his return to the series secret. That…wound up not being so much the case.

The movie itself didn’t take off to massive success, but it apparently opened the door to new stories that will be told in comics and books.

Blade Runner 2049’s Frustrating but Essential Prequel Shorts

There’s no denying that both “2036: Nexus Dawn” and “2048: Nowhere to Run” are cool. The short films were created and recently released as part of the marketing for Blade Runner 2049 is cool. Both offer a bit of backstory that sets the stage for the new movie and fill in some of the in-world histories between the original and the sequel.

While I’m a fan of transmedia storytelling, there are two kinds of stories that are generally told with these executions: Those that engage in a bit of world-building on the side of the primary story and those that fill in plot holes in that primary story. My problem is that these two are very much the latter.

It’s possible the information in both films would have been otherwise shared in the full movie, especially considering it’s over two-and-a-half hours long. So at best these shorts are duplicative, helping to build anticipation for the movie. At worst, though, it’s backstory that not everyone will have (because not everyone is going to be aware of, much less watch, this short) and which therefore might cause some confusion or create the appearance of a plot hole.

Again, I enjoy a good transmedia execution. But the best ones, in my experience, aren’t straight prequels to the main story. If this is so essential, my thinking goes, why isn’t it in the movie/book/show? This might just be personal preference, but in this case it actually has me more concerned about the content of the movie than I was before.

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

Blade Runner 2049 Trailer 2 (Quick Reaction)

The new trailer for Blade Runner 2049 is out and I have some thoughts:

  • Thank you to the person who put “California 2049” in the opening as it’s now clear where the story is set.
  • Dave Bautista’s character appears to be the new Leon Kowalski and I’m here for it.
  • I still remain unconvinced that the filmmakers didn’t just pop in on Jared Leto one day and film him. Basically, this may just be how he is and not him playing a character.
  • OK, that’s a pretty big spoiler in Harrison Ford’s speech, right? At least there’s a way to interpret it as being a very big spoiler.
  • Sylvia Hoeks as some sort of bad-ass enforcer for Leto’s mad genius is giving me some Terminator 3 flashbacks.
  • Everything here is pointing toward how finding Deckard is going to upset the balance and, as Robin Wright’s character says, “break the world.” I do like me a trailer with stakes.