Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle – Marketing Recap

mowgli poster 2Well, here we are again, preparing for the release of a movie inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” This time around it’s Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and the man behind the camera is renowned actor/director Andy Serkis, most well-known as performance capture artist.

As with other adaptations, the story follows Mowgli (Rohan Chand), a boy lost in the jungle and raised as a “man cub” by the panther Bagheera (Christian Bale) and other animals. With the boy getting older the dangers he faces are more severe, including from other creatures including Kaa (Cate Blanchett) and Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch). This version, though, focuses more on the identity crisis faced by Mowgli as he discovers there are others like him in the jungle, humans he’s not sure he fits in with.

The Posters

mowgli posterThe title character stands defiantly on the first poster, covered in red mud and scars but looking fierce and ready for action, Bagheera off to his side as if he’s preparing to defend his young charge. Mowgli is labeled “Outcast. Survivor. Legend.” to make it clear to the audience that they’ll be following a story of determination.

After Netflix picked up the movie a second poster, now featuring the full title, was released. This one sells a more epic adventure, with Mowgli and Bagheera standing on a cliff and looking out over both the jungle and the human camp. This one positions it as a story of identity with the tagline “The greatest journey is finding where you belong.”

The Trailers

The first trailer, released this past June, offered a pretty dark take on the story, showing Mowgli caged and reluctantly entering the world of man after years of being among the animals. Bagheera encourages him to gain the others’ trust as we flashback to scenes of the panther teaching the boy how to survive. We hear about how he’s grown to be a man now but is fully part of neither world, “something we’ve never seen before.”

That trailer was taken down after the movie was sold by WB to Netflix, which released a new spot in early November, just about a month before it was scheduled to become available for streaming.

It’s less esoteric and difficult than the trailer, showing more of the familiar Jungle Book beats about Mowgli’s friends and rivals in the jungle as well as his curiosity about the world of man. It’s not as funny and bright as last year’s Disney movie and ends with the pitch that it will be both on Netflix and in select theaters.

Online and Social

No online or social presence for the movie, which isn’t wholly unusual though Netflix has done more on this front for other releases lately.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Pre-roll ads appeared on YouTube in the last week or so that used shorter versions of the trailer and the key art has been used for online ads across the web.

Media and Publicity

Of course with Disney putting out their own live-action Jungle Book last year the comparisons were inevitable. Serkis made comments to the press about how his version was going to be darker and for a more mature audience than Disney’s, an effort to clear some space between the two movies. Much later he kept making the case for his version, saying unlike Disney’s effort his was going to use more real locations and effects. Serkis talked about his directorial approach, which has been heavily influenced by his performing career, here while promoting a few other projects.

Eventually the movie’s name was changed from Jungle Book: Origins to the current title, in no small part because of the previous movie’s proximity. A bit after that Serkis and some of the cast showed up at CinemaCon as part of WB’s presentation there to talk about the film and help exhibitors get over any worries they might have over too many Jungle Book projects. The movie was also part of the later CineEurope presentation from the studio.

A behind-the-scenes featurette included comments from Serkis about what kind of tone he wanted to strike with his adaptation, how lucky he was to get the cast he did and what each actor brought to their character.

Out of nowhere, late-July 2018 brought the news that Warner Bros. had sold worldwide rights to the movie to Netflix, which still included a theatrical release for 3D screenings. Serkis noted that the deal takes some of the pressure of competing against Disney’s recent film off while exposing it to much broader audience. WB meanwhile gets to not worry about trying to market a movie everyone involved has said is darker and more complex than Disney’s.

Things went dark for a little while but in the weeks leading up to release Serkis made a few media appearances to talk up the movie. Also popping around that time was an interview with composer Nitin Sawhney and a first listen at a couple of new songs from the soundtrack.

Bale later spoke about how he got involved in the movie and what he thought was new and interesting in the story.

A feature interview with Serkis had him talking about the previous Jungle Book adaptation and the years he’s spent trying to get this film, with his vision, made. He and others also went into some detail about the behind-the-scenes machinations that resulted in the movie being delayed and eventually sent to Netflix. Serkis also spoke about the process of filming the actors and creating the animals.


You definitely get the message that this is *not* a version of the story that’s going to feature lovable animals carousing around the jungle singing jaunty tunes. Indeed the campaign most clearly sets itself apart from other adaptations by showing only the bare necessities (sorry) of those animals, instead selling this as Mowgli’s story first and foremost.

It is definitely a dark story on display here, so it’s understandable why WB took a pass on the movie after years of dithering uncertainty and scheduling shifts. Throughout all that, the message has been most strongly conveyed by Serkis himself, who’s a big personality and is best positioned to tell audiences what’s going on and why they should take a chance on seeing it.

Picking Up The Spare

A featurette from Netflix had Serkis talking about the development of the movie, his process directing and performing motion capture and more.

Another featurette, this time introducing us to Serkis’ son Louis, who performed as Bhoot in the movie.

The House With a Clock In Its Walls – Marketing Recap

house with a clock in its walls poster 2Owen Vaccaro plays young Lewis Barnavelt in The House With a Clock In Its Walls. Owen has been orphaned and so has been sent to live with his uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) in Michigan. Unbeknownst to the kid, though, Uncle Jonathan is a warlock who lives in a big mysterious house with the strange Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett).

It’s not long before Owen becomes mixed up in the magical goings-on of his uncle. Specifically he gets involved in Jonathan’s quest to find a dangerous clock that was left in the house years ago by an evil wizard intent on destroying the world. To do that he’ll have to unlock his own magical proclivities and learn all about the dangers that lurk around every corner of the house.

The Posters

house with a clock in its walls poster 1The first poster is reminiscent of a lot of other movies where a house has presented something imposing or mysterious to the main character/s. The house, lights on in every window and doorway, sits behind a wrought-iron gate looking somewhat imposing and a little spooky, with the kid looking through that gate, his back to the camera. There are Jack-O-Lanterns on either side of the gate to help reinforce the slightly scary setting and establish the time the story takes place during. That there’s something sinister happening is further conveyed by the copy at the top reading “The house knows what makes you tick.”

Terribly smoothed-out photos of the cast are used on the second poster, released in early July, all placed around a magic-looking spiral with all kinds of objects floating on the golden beams and the house itself at the center of the swirl. The same copy is used here, even though the focus has shifted from the house itself to the characters.

The Trailers

“Do you hear the ticking?” a character asks as the trailer opens amidst a chorus of windchimes. Lewis is just entering the house, which has all kinds of strange things happening, some of which he sees and some of which he doesn’t. Mrs. Zimmerman and Jonathan are there to guide him through the house, telling him about its secrets and how to stay safe, but it’s never clear if they’re 100% helpful or still have ulterior – possibly evil – motivations of their own.

The whole thing plays like a darker version of Goosebumps, or a slightly more sinister Jumanji. Lewis may be in danger at any moment but he’s remarkably inactive in the trailer, simply reacting in disbelief to what’s happening around him.

The second trailer released in late June shows off more of the connection between Jonathan and Lewis as the latter arrives at the house and is greeted in a much more friendly manner by the former. It quickly gets to how Jonathan is trying to show Lewis how to harness some of the more magical features of the house, but hasn’t told him quite everything. There are dangers still lurking and growing that must be confronted by the two of them as well as Mrs. Zimmerman.

Online and Social

The front page of the official website features the teaser poster art alongside a clock counting down to release and buttons encouraging visitors to watch the trailer or buy tickets. There are also links in the corner to the movie’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles.

The main draw, though is the “Explore the House” button, which unlocks a video from Black telling you everything is perfectly safe along with footage from the trailers. Once that’s done you can navigate yourself around the house and track down magical clues, using a digital notebook to keep track of what you’ve found.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The studio started running Tweets like this as promoted posts in early-August. Other online ads used short clips from the trailers as well as key art.

There were exclusive clips created for both AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas that offered fans various behind the scenes looks.

Sprinkles Cupcakes created a “Timeless Magic” cupcake that customers could enjoy if they needed all the sugar.

Universal created a movie-branded “Magical Escape Experience” in Glendale, CA that was free to the public to try and harness some of the popularity of escape rooms.

Based on the posts shared by the movie on Twitter, the studio engaged in a bit of influencer marketing, with a number of family-focused individuals posting how they were so excited for the movie to finally be coming out.

Media and Publicity

The movie was part of the CineEurope presentation from the studio.

In late August Roth finally addressed the fact that he was making a PG-rated kids movie, positioning the decision as artistically risky instead of a desperate reaction in the wake of the complete failure of his Death Wish remake last year.

Blanchett appeared in a couple videos like this that offered the audience a riddle to solve, with clues hidden somewhere in the room behind her. Both she and Black then showed up in a National Book Day video encouraging viewers to pick up a book they’ve been putting off and discover what’s inside.

Blanchett appeared on “Kimmel” in mid-September to talk about working with Black and otherwise promote the film.


Let’s just take one more second and acknowledge this movie – a big, colorful adaptation of a children’s book about magic – is directed by Eli Roth, someone more commonly associated with violent, slightly misogynistic horror. That’s…notable.

Putting that to the side, I’m not sure who the intended audience for the movie actually is. It plays like a Goosebumps/Harry Potter/Lemony Snicket type story, but it never seems to commit to either the comedy or the magic, wanting to have it both ways. And while the trailers are alright, the posters are kind of ridiculous and don’t really pop off the wall, so to speak. It seems like a movie the studio didn’t quite know how to sell.


Director Eli Roth wasn’t a huge part of the movie’s pre-release publicity, perhaps due to the studio’s desire to not make parents familiar with his previous work wary of bringing their kids to it, but now he’s been interviewed about how he hopes it sends audiences deeper into the horror genre and how this was an unexpected turn for him.
IMAX released an exclusive featurette with Jack Black and others talking about how much more special the movie will be on the big big screen. Black was also interviewed about his recent string of scary movies. Another IMAX featurette asked whether Black was a warlock or not.  

Ocean’s 8 – Marketing Recap

oceans 8 posterSeveral years ago comedian John Mulaney joked that a female Ocean’s 11 couldn’t happen because there’d be no actual coordination. Two of the crew would, he said, would split off to gab about the other nine and the planning would devolve into passive-aggressive sniping. You know…like women do. Little did he know that Ocean’s 8, out this week, would be exactly that, only without the sexism implied in the bit.

You can read the core of the marketing recap for the movie at The Hollywood Reporter, while below I share some of the additional online and publicity beats not included there.

Online and Social

The “main” trailer plays when you load up the official website for the movie, so take a couple minutes and watch that again. After that the main page features the red curtain-themed key art with links to buy tickets or connect with the movie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As far as the rest of the site’s content there isn’t a whole lot. “Cast” just has the characters posters for each member of the team along with the name of the actress that plays her. “Videos” has the first two trailer and the “Gallery” has a handful of images. Finally, “Partners” just has information on the Cartier partnership detailed elsewhere.

There was a Snapchat filter created back in December timed with the release of the first trailer.

Media and Publicity

Outside of casting announcements, some of the first press was an interview with director Ross as he talked about working with Soderbergh over the years and more. It was a while then before the first production still was released.

Through 2016 and 2017 there were a few publicity pops here and there, including Blanchett talking about about why only eight women are involved here, Paulson shooting down the idea that all-female sets are filled with “cat fights” and more. Basically the cast spoke briefly about it while they were promoting other projects.

After the second trailer was released the publicity kicked into gear a bit, including this interview with members of the cast and the director where they talked about getting the vibe of the first three movies to come through here as well. There was also a profile of costar Awkwafina in EW’s summer movie preview that probably brought her to the attention of a lot of new people in the audience as well as a similar profile in the Los Angeles Times and then in Buzzfeed. Those stories came at the same time WB was presenting the movie to CinemaCon attendees as part of its upcoming release slate.

Later on there was an interview with Bullock and Kailing where the two talked about the unique opportunities afforded by working on a set filled with other women, something that doesn’t happen often as most of the time they’re the lone female around. At a press event hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art the whole cast talked about working together and how they all worshipped and adored Blanchett and showed off their fashion.

The press tour more or less started with Paulson showing up on “The Tonight Show” and talking about being starstruck by the cast she was working with. Kaling did likewise on “Late Night” as did Hathaway on “The Late Show” while Bullock hit “Kimmel.” There were a few instances where there was a group effort by all or most of the cast, including things like this game of “Never have I ever”, Rihanna making her costars uncomfortable and more. Kaling also showed up on “Ellen” to talk about working with all the other ladies.

That didn’t mean there weren’t individual efforts such as this solo interview with Hathaway, a feature profile of Kaling, a similar profile of Bullock and one for Rihanna. That being said, there has been a strong focus on selling the whole assembled star power. There was also a conversation with screenwriter Olivia Milch where she talked about the challenges of writing the movie, including introducing a bunch of female characters to a predominantly male universe and what that meant in terms of audience expectations.

Paulson and Blanchett gave a hilariously off-the-wall joint interview on “Today” that included more jokes at each others’ expense than information about the movie. Bullock also talked more about the movie, her career in general and the sexist behavior she’s been exposed to over the years.

AMC announced a special advanced “Girls Night Out” screening at select locations to help get the buzz going, an event that was open to all genders despite the name.


In addition to what I shared at THR, I just want to point out that this movie *feels* like an installment in the Ocean’s franchise. It has the same sizzle and energy as the trailers for the first three movies and that’s a big chunk of the heavy lifting that needed to be done. While the campaign doesn’t make the connection to the earlier movies overt, it gives off the vibe of being part of the same world and featuring some of the same character types, which is very much a good thing.


There were multiple interviews with Sarah Edwards, the movie’s costume designer, as she talked about outfitting all the actors for the fake Met Gala they attend. How that event was filmed was also the subject of a behind-the-scenes profile.


Get the details on the Touissant Necklace that is the object of the heist.


Given that James Corden has a supporting role in the movie it’s only natural the cast would stop by his show to have some fun.


Gary Ross, the movie’s director, spoke about what cameos from the first three movies did or didn’t make the cut for the finished film.


More from Anne Hathaway and others in the cast here about how they hope the movie will help burst the myth that female-led movies are question marks theatrically.
Another quick profile of breakout star Awkwafina here. And Helena Bonham Carter is finally getting some attention with a profile where she talks about how fun it was to work on a light caper movie.