Jumanji: The Next Level – Marketing Recap

You can read my entire recap of the marketing campaign for Jumanji: The Next Level at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

Nothing much of note on the movie’s official website, which just wants to make sure you get the marketing content you’ve likely already seen and buy tickets now.

Media and Publicity

A first cast photo was shared in mid-March, kicking off the publicity campaign for the film.

Aside from appearances on late night talk shows by Johnson, Black, Hart and others in the cast there doesn’t seem to have been a whole lot of press activity for the movie, something common among this week’s releases.


Picking Up the Spare

Sony released a sizzle reel from the premiere event. There was also a special Comedy Central promotion on how Johnson and Hart learned to be old people.

Another nice profile on the pairing of DeVito and Glover. Meanwhile Gillan was interviewed about her unexpected career path as action hero.

Gillan appeared on “Kimmel.”

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.  

The Polka King – Marketing Recap

polka king posterBased on a true story, The Polka King stars Jack Black as true-life Pennsylvania polka band leader Jan Lewan. Lewan was a self-made entrepreneur who was a musician, a business owner and an all-around good guy. He offered people the opportunity to invest in his operations and used that money to expand into new fields.

Except none of it was legal. At least not the investing part. When Lewan comes under investigation for fraud he panics, determined to keep his empire afloat. The movie also stars Jenny Slate as Marla, Lewan’s wife and Jason Schwartzman as Mickey, a musician in Lewan’s band and his best friend. Notably, the movie arrives on Netflix at the same time as the documentary showing the *actual* Lewan and detailing roughly the same events offered here.

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Marketing Recap

jumanji poster 20The premise of the first Jumanji was pretty simple: A man who’s been trapped in a board game for 26 years finally breaks loose and the kids who freed him have to stop the animals and other dangers that came out with him. 27 years later the movie is finally getting a sequel in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

The film follows four disparate teenagers who are all sentenced to detention one afternoon. Forced to clean out the high school storage room the discover an old video game system that still works and decide to play “Jumanji” to pass the time. They wind up being sucked into the game, taking on the physical forms of different characters. Now appearing as grown adults (played by Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black), they have to find their way out while also saving Alex, a man who was trapped in the game back in 1996.

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