SuperIntelligence – Marketing Recap

How HBO Max has sold a high-concept comedy not too far removed from reality.

Melissa McCarthy stars in this week’s new HBO Max release Superintelligence, directed once again by her husband Ben Falcone. In the film McCarthy plays Carol Peters, an all-around unremarkable woman who one day finds herself targeted by a powerful artificial intelligence (voiced by James Corden) that is deciding if it should enslave, destroy or leave humanity alone. It plans to study Carol for a few days before making its ultimate decision.

Along the way, the AI gifts her with a fortune to see what she does when freed from other concerns. The situation also prompts Carol to attempt to reconnect with her ex, George (Bobby Cannavale), wanting to spend what might be her last few days with no regrets about the past. Meanwhile, the FBI wants to know why Carol got the AI’s attention and what can be done about it.

As with many others, the movie was originally scheduled for theatrical late last year before being pulled by Warner Bros. and ultimately replatformed for streaming.

The Posters

Carol and George are having a nice romantic moment on the poster (by marketing agency Works Adv), released in November. The two look like they’re enjoying each other’s company along with some champagne and it all seems pleasant until you realize the heart shape in the wall behind them seems to hint at some sort of violence or devastation that has created such an opening. That juxtaposition, intended to create some intrigue or interest, comes off as a bit odd, hinting at a movie that may not know which tone to take.

The Trailers

As the trailer (6.7 million views on YouTube), released in early November, opens, we see that an ultra-sophisticated computer system has set its eyes on Carol for…reasons. It knows everything about her and has led her to believe the world is going to end in three days, something it’s threatening to do if it can’t understand humanity more fully through her. With the FBI wondering why it’s targeted Carol, she takes the idea of there not being many more tomorrows to reconnect with an ex-boyfriend.

Online and Social

No stand-alone site for the movie, but HBO Max did give it regular support on its brand social channels.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A brief controversy emerged in mid-November when it was noticed that one of the groups taking part in the “20 Days of Kindness” campaign was staunchly anti-abortion, which seemed to be off-brand for McCarthy and others. She and the studio issued a statement days later saying that group had been removed from the effort.

After the trailer came out a number of featurettes were released that covered the love story of the movie, the makeover Carol gives herself to win George back and how much of an average, non-exceptional human being Carol is.

Other promos like this really leaned into McCarthy’s popularity.

Media and Publicity

McCarthy and Forte appeared on stage to do a bit during WB’s CinemaCon 2019 presentation, an effort to get exhibitors and others excited about the upcoming film. In October of last year it was announced the movie would forego a theatrical release and instead be saved for the debut of HBO Max.

The cast participated in a group interview about technology and related issues here.

Both Falcone and McCarthy appeared on late night and other talk shows to talk about the movie and once more working together.

Overall

The message of the campaign is simple, and largely the same one as most other comedies starring McCarthy. Namely, if you enjoy her antics and persona, you’ll likely enjoy this movie. If not, you may want to find something else because it’s probably going to be relatively similar to what you’ve seen before.

That’s not a bad thing, as McCarthy is a comedic powerhouse, one with a relatively solid and box-office record. Such a record makes her streaming feature debut more of a statement about the health of comedies at the box-office than it probably should be, even when adjusting for this being a pandemic year. She is who she is, especially when being directed by Falcone, and this campaign makes that abundantly clear.

The Jesus Rolls – Marketing Recap

How Screen Media is selling the story of a character no one expected to see more of.

the jesus rolls posterThere are very few movies that demand sequels, no matter how hard some filmmakers and screenwriters work to set them up. One that certainly didn’t demand any sort of follow-up was the Coen Brothers classic The Big Lebowski.

Despite that, this week sees the release of The Jesus Rolls. Not a direct sequel to Lebowski but more of a spinoff, the focus of the story here shifts to Jesus Quintana, the bowling nemesis of The Dude and his compatriots, played by John Turturro.

In the movie, Quintana is just being released after spending years in prison. As he seeks to get his life back up and running he meets up with fellow sexual deviants – remember he’s a self-described pederast – Petey (Bobby Cannavale) and Marie (Audrey Tautou). The group finds comfort in each other as they engage in some light criminal activity along with romantic adventures.

The movie, written and directed by Turtorro and based on the 1974 French film Going Places, is getting only a limited release this weekend. That release has been preceded by a small-scale campaign that’s much smaller than what one might expect from a spinoff of a beloved classic.

The Posters

There’s not much to the one domestic poster, but it does nicely reinforce the message that the title character is returning to the spotlight. With bright neon lighting for the title treatment, a purple bowling ball sporting a hairnet sitting in the center. It’s simple but gets the point across.

The Trailers

The first teaser (168,000 views on YouTube) came out at the end of January, not showing much but promising that Jesus still has his signature bowling move while text promises a road adventure with an all-star cast.

 

The official trailer (102,000 views on YouTube) came out just a little while later at the beginning of February. It sells the movie as a carefree road trip story that starts with Quintana being let out of prison and immediately getting back into partnership with his friend Petey. They start stealing cars and committing other small scale crimes again because that’s what they do. There are others they meet along the way, but it’s clear everyone is having a lot of fun doing the things they do best.

 

Online and Social

Pretty simple page for the film on the Screen Media website. It’s primarily there to encourage people to find one of the venues it’s screening at in the coming weeks or how to buy it on digital.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Originally titled “Going Places” in reference to the original it’s remaking the current name was bestowed in mid-2019 at the same time it was announced it would finally be released in early 2020. In October of last year the announcement came that the movie would have its world premiere at the Rome Film Festival that month before it was released in international markets.

Rolling Stone was given an exclusive clip focusing on Jesus and Petey picking up Jack, another newly-released convict played by Pete Davidson.

Media and Publicity

There was of course lots of chatter and speculation about the movie as it was debated as a spinoff of The Big Lebowski or not. That was eventually confirmed and later on a first look still released showing Turturro in character in, appropriately, a bowling alley.

Later on Turturro addressed the question on everyone’s mind and confirmed that yes, the Coen Brothers were cool with the character branching out a bit. He also offered some thoughts on how the character has evolved since his first appearance. Later on he updated the situation with comments about how he reworked some parts of the story to remove some problems.

The path Turturro took in making the movie, including how it resulted from another project and the negotiations he had to engage in to get the rights, were covered in another interview with the actor.

Turturro made a stop at “The Late Show” and “Today” to promote the film.

Overall

There’s a lot to like in this campaign, regardless of how small the scale might be. It has a strong brand identity and a strong vibe that’s communicated through all of the assets.

Whether or not the movie is essential is somewhat beside the point. That Turturro felt there was something more to do with the character he was integral to creating is what’s important, and the marketing doesn’t work that hard to draw connections between this and the earlier film so as not to create any false expectations.

While such a significant follow-up might feel like it deserves a bigger launch, it’s also understandable that other studios who might have given it a more substantial push would shy away given the character’s background.

Picking Up The Spare

A new profile of Turturro that had him talking about returning to the character and making a new story. Another took the same approach.