jurassic world dominion – marketing recap

How Universal has sold the end of another dinosaur trilogy.

Jurassic World Dominion movie poster from Universal Pictures
Jurassic World Dominion movie poster from Universal Pictures

Jurassic World Dominion has an ambitious goal: Not only does it set out to conclude the trilogy of films begun in 2015 when director Colin Trevorrow brought us back to a world of genetically-resurrected dinosaurs but also put a cap on the sextology begun by director Steven Spielberg all the way back in 1993.

Picking up four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, this one takes place in a world where colons no longer exist dinosaurs have proliferated across the planet, upsetting the balance of nature.

Details of the story are relatively inconsequential, as the movie’s cast provides its major selling point. Not only do Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return from the first two World films, but the core trio from the first films – Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum – all come back for the first time since the 1993 original. Oh, and of cours BD Wong once more reprises his role as Dr. Henry Wu, the scientist behind the mistakes made by so many other people.

Joining the cast are DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Campbell Scott and others. But unfortunately Lauren Lapkus, Wayne Knight and Jake Johnson are nowhere to be found.

So, with all of that established, let’s take a look at the marketing campaign.

announcement and casting

While the movie was still a ways off from production, in September 2019 Universal released “Battle at Big Rock,” a short video directed by Trevorrow that showed what life in a dinosaur-filled country was like. The story was meant to fill in at least some gaps between Fallen Kingdom and the third film.

A short while later it was revealed this new movie would not only bring back Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm but also have Sam Neill and Laura Dern return to the franchise for the first time since Jurassic Park III.

In February of 2020, Trevorrow marked the first day of filming with a photo that also revealed the movie’s subtitle.

Pratt spent some of his time on the Onward press tour building anticipation for this film.

The movie was one of many to have its production put on hiatus because of the Covid-19 outbreak. A big deal was made when shooting restarted in July with safety precautions in place but the Malta-based production had to scale back in August due to another outbreak in that country. In October Universal moved the movie’s release date out an entire year because of continued production delays as well as the uncertainty still plaguing the U.S. theatrical market.

Neill made his return official with a post at the beginning of August.

In an interview in May, 2020, producer Frank Marshall clearly stated this was just the beginning for even more stories and not the end of a trilogy as some had suspected.

Reports came out in June that a fan-favorite character from the first Jurassic Park would be returning in this story.

Goldblum talked about not only making another appearance in the franchise but also reuniting with Neill and Dern when he was on “Late Night” in August. A bit later there were additional interviews with Goldblum on his own and with Neill.

In an interview with EW, Trevorrow talked about why he felt motivated to return for the series’ final installment and what he thought fans could look forward to.

Neill talked more about shooting the movie, including the Covid accommodations that had to be made, here.

The final day of filming was announced once again by Trevorrow, with details coming out later that over 40,000 Covid tests were used during production along with a raft of other safety protocols and challenges.

the marketing campaign phase one: we spared no expense

Universal announced in June 2021 that a special sneak preview of the movie would screen in from of IMAX showings of F9, giving it what was expected to be a massive platform. Trevorrow was interviewed about that footage, promising this movie would be the culmination of everything that had come in the five previous installments.

A commercial promoting that footage’s IMAX-only availability was released as F9 was hitting theaters.

Around the same time there were promotions of the new “VelociCoaster” ride at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park, including revelations there would be easter eggs from the new movie sprinkled around the ride that would hint at what fans could expect.

Universal gave CinemaCon attendees in August of last year a look at footage from this and other upcoming movies.

the marketing campaign phase two: it’s a unix system

Things got started again in November, 2021 when Universal released the five minute “prologue” footage that had earlier been shown in front of F9’s IMAX screenings. Trevorrow made it clear at that time that the footage had originally been intended to be this movie’s opening sequence but had been cut during the editing process.

There was also a poster to promote this video.

The director was interviewed about uniting the casts of the new and old trilogy while introducing some of the new dinosaurs in Total Film along with a couple of new photos. He also commented on the kind of story audiences could expect alongside another exclusive new photo.

In January U.S. ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin shared a Universal Pictures/Winter Olympics cross-promotional commercial showing her trying to outrun a velociraptor. Completing the corporate synergy trifecta, Shiffrin then talked about the commercial when she appeared on “Today.”

Another commercial featured Shaun White.

Marshall confirmed that, of course, this was not the end and that the franchise would continue after this trilogy finale.

the marketing campaign phase three: hold onto your butts

The campaign finally for real kicked off in February with the release of the first trailer (53.6m YouTube views). It starts off by showing how dinosaurs are now something people face in their everyday lives, though that has had disastrous consequences for them and the environment. After we see the reunion of Drs. Sattler and Grant we’re off to the races, with lots of running and escaping from various dinos until the end, when all the principles from the entire franchise are assembled in front of a T-rex.

The poster that came out at the same time puts the familiar franchise logo in a circle of amber while promising this is “The epic conclusion of the Jurassic era.”

Because the Super Bowl was broadcast on NBC it provided Universal with another chance at cross-promotion, so Pratt narrated a video introduction to the game that used the movie’s music, text style and more. Goldblum also appeared in a bit at Universal Studios.

An exhibit that mixed movie promotion with a little actual science opened at the National Western Center in Denver. It featured animatronic dinosaurs, a recreation of the lab from the first movie and more Instagrammable moments.

Both Pratt and Howard participated in the launch of a competition encouraging young artists to design a new ratings card for the British Board of Film Classification.

A pair of Empire covers featured both casts for an issue that contained a handful of new images, comments from the cast and director and more.

A featurette released in mid-April explores the legacy of the six-part series, with the cast talking about how things have progressed to this point and how this is them throwing everything against the wall to finish the story off.

the marketing campaign phase three: must go faster

In late April the next trailer (29.1m YouTube views) came out. This one starts off with Owen meeting Blue’s baby raptor, a baby that’s soon grabbed by hunters. From there the chaos starts as the heroes have to evade a series of bigger, more feathery and more dangerous dinosaurs because somehow riding a motorcycle will somehow save the world from disaster.

The same tagline is used on the next poster, but this time all seven of the primary cast members are shown, the new cast at the top and the older trio at the bottom.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar starred in a commercial that aired on ESPN.

In the first of many such pieces, Neill, Dern and Goldberg were jointly interviewed about reuniting and how easy it was for them to fall back into step after so many years, largely because they’ve remained friends.

Traditional TV advertising began around this time, with spots that hit all the main selling points seen in previous trailers and other material.

Barbasol announced it would release movie-branded cans of shaving cream in the payoff to a joke that’s almost 30 years old.

Additional promotional partners included:

  • Dr. Pepper, which offered movie tickets, a t-shirt and more to Rewards members who earned sufficient points.
  • General Mills, which put dinosaurs and other movie branding on packages of cereal, snacks and more.
  • Kinder, which did likewise.
  • Ferrara, which partnered with Fandango to offer movie cash and a chance to win other prizes in a sweepstakes requiring purchase of certain candy products.
  • Progressive, which used footage from the “Prologue” in a commercial assuring those having their cars destroyed that all the damage was covered.
  • China Glaze, which launched a line of movie-inspired cosmetics.
  • Carl’s Jr./Hardees, which offered a selection of items in movie-branded packaging for just $.93 to celebrate the 1993 release of the original film.

A T-rex is seen in the darkness on the IMAX poster released at the end of April. IMAX later announced a special live Q&A with “special guests” that was scheduled for just before the movie opened.

Howard and Goldblum appeared together at CinemaCon 2022 as part of Univeral’s presentation to exhibitors and other executives/press.

Pratt appeared on “Today” and “The Tonight Show” to start promoting the film around the time tickets went on sale. That “Today” spot included the unveiling of a giant LEGO T-rex statue.

He then introduced a featurette that explains the film’s premise, with Trevorrow and others weighing in as well.

The Dolby Cinemas poster features an image from the trailer of Owen motorcycling away from a pack of raptors.

A short behind-the-scenes video shows Pratt and Howard meeting and interacting with Neill and Dern for the first time on set.

the marketing campaign phase four: woman inherits the earth

Dern, Howard and Wise were interviewed about the importance of female characters to the franchise, a theme that would come up a number of times in the last bits of the campaign. Those three, along with Isabella Sermon, then appeared in a featurette all talking about the same thing and paying tribute to Dern’s original turn as Ellie Satler.

Trevorrow and some of the cast were in attendance at a premiere event in Mexico City. Howard, Dern and others later took part in a similar event in Germany.

Around this time there was an interview with Dern and Neill that highlighted something that didn’t register with a lot of people back in the day, which is that she’s 20 years younger than Neill but that despite that the two were established as a romantic couple in the first film.

In late May the movie was featured on the cover of Total Film, with exclusive interviews and photos in the issue.

The two casts squared off in a trivia quiz testing their knowledge of the series.

NowThis debuted exclusive footage that showed more of the real world implications of having dinosaurs roaming around.

Jeep once again signed on as a promotional partner, sharing a TV commercial showing how versatile a Jeep can be in a world overrun by dinosaurs.

A TikTok filter let people put themselves in a situation where they’re being chased by virtual dinos.

The cast appeared in an exclusive interview for AMC Theaters. Trevorrow talked about bringing the franchise to a close in an exclusive interview with Dolby.

Pratt, Goldblum and Neill were all interviewed about the importance of father figures to the story and how that’s reflected in their own families.

Finally everyone was out for the world premiere in Los Angeles earlier this week.

overall

Tracking has the movie opening with about $50 million this weekend, which might be enough to finally dethrone Top Gun: Maverick from its impressive showing.

But the paltry 42% Rotten Tomatoes rating hints that this one may not have the legs of that other sequel and may fall quickly to both the highly mixed reviews to date and what might not be great word of mouth from opening weekend audiences.

Despite all that, the campaign has been some fun, especially in seeing the easy rapport of Dern, Goldblum and Neill. The problem is that it stands in marked contrast to the forced chemistry of the other stars.

So you have a campaign that leans heavily on nostalgia but doesn’t do much to alleviate the concerns of those who thought the second World movie was a mess. But it did give us this moment, and that’s not nothing.

Lauradern GIF by Jurassic World - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Mountain – Marketing Recap

the mountain posterFollowing the loss of his father, Andy (Tye Sheridan) is looking for some sort of purpose and connection in the new movie The Mountain, written and directed by Rick Alverson. One day he crosses paths with Dr. Wallace Fiennes (Jeff Goldblum), a lobotomist who once new Andy’s mother years ago.

Dr. Fiennes hires Andy as a photographer to document his practice as he travels around the country performing a procedure that is on its way out as a preferred treatment for mental and psychological problems in the 1950s. That involves documenting Fiennes’ patients and learning their stories, making this an even more emotional journey for Andy than he anticipated, especially when Andy becomes involved with Susan (Hannah Gross), a young woman they encounter along the way.

The Posters

On the poster the movie is described as “A psychsurgical” odyssey,” which is a new one for me. The washed out colors used to show photos of Andy and Dr. Fiennes combined with the way those photos are repeated into the background do add a sense of it being a trippy drama.

The Trailers

As the trailer begins Andy is interviewing for a position with Dr. Fiennes, hoping to take pictures of the doctor’s work and patients as he travels around performing his procedures. What exactly those procedures are is unclear, but it’s something that changes people in some way Andy still isn’t comfortable with. The two are shown as having some form of deeper connection, but that’s also an element of the story that remains vague in what’s shown here.

Online and Social

There isn’t a whole lot of information on Kino Lorber’s page for the movie, just the basic marketing materials along with a list of locations and dates it’s opening at and on in the coming weeks.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing on this front that I’ve seen.

Media and Publicity

The movie was among those slated to appear at the Venice International Film Festival, appearing on many critics’ “most anticipated” lists. A first look still from the movie was released at the same time it was announced it would be screening at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It was picked up at the festival by Kino Lorber.

Goldblum, Alverson and Sheridan did a few Q&A appearances in New York and L.A. accompanied by screenings, but that’s about it since then.

Overall

For all the anticipation and buzz the movie had going into the most recent festival season, things have been remarkably quiet in the weeks leading up to release. Those select Q&As with the cast and crew have been it and those don’t appear to have generated any substantial press push in the build up to this week.

That’s disappointing since not only do the performances look uniformly wonderful but the story looks like one of those original takes that has the potential to be dramatic and unsettling, a far cry from how many modern movies are thrilling but comfortable. This minimal campaign isn’t going to move the needle on awareness at all and the movie as a whole is likely to go by as barely a blip that registers.

Picking Up the Spare

Goldblum appeared on “The Late Show” to keep feeding our collective appreciation for this eccentric talent. How Goldblum’s character weaves in and out of the story was covered by Alverson in this interview. 

Another interview with Goldblum, one where he talk about the story of the movie and how he got involved.

Hotel Artemis – Marketing Recap

hotel artemis posterJodie Foster is here to tell us the rules in Hotel Artemis, written and directed by Drew Pearce. Foster plays Jean Thomas, the nurse at an establishment that acts as a safe spot and hospital for the criminal underworld. She’s assisted there by Everest (Dave Bautista) and operates successfully because everyone who comes there understands the rules, including that there’s no violence on the property.

That rule winds up being broken when a series of events brings a strange group of people together on a single night. Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) is on the run and in need of help after pulling a job. But he’s attracted some unwanted attention from a crime lord named The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum), who is out to recover what’s been taken from him. Also there that night are bad guys played by Sofia Boutella, Charlie Day and more, all with their own agendas and desire for survival.

The Posters

The teaser poster doesn’t include any mentions of the high-caliber cast or the story, just showing the hotel’s logo and name. Not much and not hugely effective unless you know what the movie is about already and have other information to support it and add context to it.

The second poster uses that same logo but shows all the shady characters that will pass through the hotel in the frame of the door. The orange, fire-like tone everything has hints that there will be more than a little chaos caused by all these folks and their actions.

The Trailers

The first half of the trailer is devoted to introducing us to the world the story takes place in. On a broad level that means the violent hellscape that is LA in 2028 (insert “so I see things haven’t changed” joke) and the hotel itself, which has specific rules to protect the staff and those who seek sanctuary there. The second half is about how, as we see early on, Waikiki has stolen something valuable from a very powerful man who wants his property back. That theft, while unintentional, has consequences for Waikiki and the hotel in general as everyone looks to make it through the night.

Well that looks like a lot of fun. It’s wacky and violent and over-the-top but also completely committed, at least based on what’s seen here, to the premise. With such a great cast that’s been brought together this has to be at least kind of good.

A red-band trailer later on hit the same basic chords but presented things a bit differently, mixing up some of the character introductions, overview of the rules of the hotel and more. Missing is much of the exposition about why all these criminals have converged in one place on one night and in its place is lot of cursing and glorified violence.

One last “Character” trailer took the approach of trying to look like a 70s grindhouse type flick, with grainy footage and voiceover that introduced all the various criminals and their associates that keep the story going. It’s alright, but not as clever as it thinks it is.

Online and Social

There were Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles for the movie but no official owned site.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A TV spot focused mostly on setting up the hotel and its rules as well as its all-star cast, showing the movie as a grungy and violent story with a wicked sense of gallows humor. Another delved more into the story and the rules of the hotel as well as how those rules get broken. This one was just about presenting a kinetic and violent good time with a catchy rhythm. A special TV spot featuring Bautista ran during “Sports Center.” There were also online ads that used elements of the key art as well as video snippets, which also showed up in social ads.

Media and Publicity

Brown showed up on the late night TV circuit, engaging in hijinks and promoting this movie as well as talking about that show he’s on and some of his other recent movies. Foster did the same to talk about the movie’s story and lots more. Other members of the cast did other publicity stops on various media.

Overall

There’s quite a bit to like about the campaign. It sometimes goes a little far in trying to sell the style over the substance, but it’s hardly the first marketing push to do so. There’s certainly a consistency to the brand here as everything is bathed in that orange brown light, like street lights filtered through window that hasn’t been cleaned in far too long.

Foster is, of course, the central focus here even if she isn’t the central focus. What I mean by that is that the marketing spread the attention around to Brown, Bautista, Goldblum, Boutella and others, but it all revolves around Foster’s nurse, both because she’s a central figure and because Foster is just such a presence. The campaign presents a lot of reasons to see the movie – it’s violent and darkly funny among them, but Foster disappearing behind an accent and glasses might be chief among them.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Brian Tyree Henry has done a bit more press now that the movie is in theaters, including “The Daily Show.”
Writer/director Drew Pearce also has talked with Vanity Fair, The Hollywood Reporter and more about what kind of movie he set out to make and how he created something fairly unique.