Recapping Sony’s marketing campaign for Holmes & Watson.
The duo of John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell are responsible, as a pair, for some of the most funny bits of cinema in the last 20 years. It’s been 10 years since they last teamed up in Step Brothers and now they’re back together in Holmes & Watson, a comedic take on the famous pair of detectives.
The story involves the two being tasked with unmasking a threat to Queen Victoria. Professor James Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) has threatened to blow up Buckingham Palace. Based on the campaign, that premise is just a thin line providing support for Ferrell and Reilly to engage in their usual brand of hijinks.
The two main characters are shown on the first poster, each making the shape of the letter of their last name with their hands. There’s nothing here about the story, it’s just about telling the audience that Ferrell and Reilly are back together, which is the biggest draw here.
The main message of the first trailer is that the Step Brothers/Talladega Nights team is back together, this time playing the famous pair of detectives. Unfortunately they’re both idiots. That’s going to cause problems with Professor Moriarty kills someone in Buckingham Palace and threatens the Queen will be his next target.
A lot of the humor is derived from jokes about the time period, from Watson asking if someone would like some heroin (a popular cure at the time) to him asking to take “a sort of self photograph” with the Queen. Some land more firmly than others, but not only does Ferrell actually seem to be committed to the role (a stark contrast to some of his recent films) but Reilly is a damn treasure.
Online and Social
The movie’s official website has the trailer and synopsis, the latter of which makes it clear this is a reunion of the Step Brothers duo. Not linked on the site but shared on YouTube are links to its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Promoted posts like this began running on Twitter a couple weeks prior to release, a shockingly tight advertising window for a movie with these two stars.
There were short form videos shared online and it’s likely TV spots were run to help sell the movie to a larger audience.
Media and Publicity
The movie had kind of been floating around the background for a while until it was included in the studio’s CinemaCon presentation, which featured Ferrell engaging in his usual brand of antics and a sizzle reel of footage. A while after that a first-look photo showed up in EW’s Fall Movie Preview issue.
A profile of Reilly appeared while he was in Toronto with other projects, putting this in the context of his career, including his other collaborations with Ferrell.
The costars appeared in a PSA supporting the Movember Foundation, offering a number of mustache facts that appear to be somewhat suspect, though they’re funny. More information on that campaign was offered on the movie’s official website.
They both appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to introduce a clip and engage in some random silliness and both showed up either together or on their own on other shows.
The way Reilly bounces between different projects was the subject of another interview with him right before release.
There are two major messages being sent here: First, that everyone should come out and see the new movie featuring the team of Ferrell and Reilly, having enjoyed their previous work together. Second, that while the story may feature old-fashioned characters in a period setting the humor comes from those characters acting in very modern ways.
It’s not a bad campaign, it’s just that it’s not that extensive and only formally ran for three months. That may simply be Sony realized this was a particularly crowded holiday season, or an acknowledgement that broad comedy hasn’t been lighting up the box office recently. Whatever the case, it’s funny enough but it remains to be seen whether it will join the ranks of the stars’ other outings.
Picking Up the Spare
Seems Paramount approached Netflix about taking the movie off their hands but the streaming company wasn’t interested.
When last we left Wreck-It Ralph he was realizing that while he might be the bad guy in the video game world that didn’t necessarily mean he was a *bad* guy. Now the scope of the action has broadened in Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Taking place years after the first movie, Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) have maintained their friendship. When an internet router is installed in the arcade where their machine is located the two decide to venture out into the web to try and find a piece of software needed to fix Vanellope’s game, leading to all kinds of new adventures.
A motion poster kicked off this part of the campaign as we see a search bar asking “who broke the internet?” with a mouse pointer clearly accusing a sheepish-looking Ralph of being behind it. The second one-sheet shows the same internet city shown in the first full trailer, the logos of Facebook and other companies seen affixed to some of the buildings as Ralph and Vanellope ride a mouse pointer across the sky.
All the characters are arranged around a wireless signal on what seems to be the theatrical poster
The movie’s Real3D release was promoted on a poster that had Ralph and Vanellope putting themselves in an Instagram-like photo frame.
We’re back in the arcade from the first movie as the trailer opens, with the owner installing wireless internet in the store. That quickly attracts the attention of both Ralph and Vanellope, who decide to go exploring. There’s not much story here, it’s just about how the two of them encounter memes, kid-centric games, cute cat photos and other internet cliches.
As soon as the first full trailer opens we get the basic idea, that Ralph and Vanellope are going to the internet to explore what’s there. When they arrive we see all sorts of well-known company logos like Google, Amazon, Facebook and others. Vanellope is whisked off to the Disney website that’s filled with fairy tale creatures, Stormtroopers and other characters, leading to an extended sequence where she interacts with the assembled Disney Princess lineup. It ends with Ralph having a discussion about the phrasing of the title in some manner.
It’s funny enough, but I’m kind of afraid it’s just going to be an endless string of in-jokes. I get the humor being sold here but it also betrays a “oh we’re so clever” mindset that doesn’t always age well. Plus, there’s still no actual story being shown. Why are they going to the internet? What’s the purpose of their journey once they’re there? None of that is explained.
A short “first look” trailer was released in mid-August that didn’t offer a whole lot more plot details but did show Vanellope gets involved in a racing game while the pair are stuck in the internet. That trailer served as an introduction to the racer voiced by Gal Gadot and showed off a bit more of the Disney Princesses, who by that point had become a central focus of the campaign as a whole.
The second official trailer from late September shows Ralph and Vanellope are in this situation because the racing game was unplugged, taking to the internet to find a fix. The focus here is on the racer played by Gal Gadot and how she helps the two friends come to an uncomfortable but unavoidable truth.
Online and Social
Not much on Disney’s official website for the movie other than a handful of videos and images, along with a list of the promotional partner companies.
The Void developed a hyper-reality VR experience based on the movie, the first project as part of a deal with Disney.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
In addition to all that, the movie was one of the first to be part of a renewed agreement between Disney and McDonald’s to include promotional toys in Happy Meals. Dark Horse also announced a choose-your-own-adventure graphic novel tied to the movie.
National Cinemedia, which created a movie-themed augmented reality game for those arriving early to theaters beginning in early October. Part of NCM’s pre-show entertainment package, the game could be played via the company’s Noovie Arcade app.
Carvana, which launched a cobranded campaign to sell audiences on its online car buying. The company’s website featured information on the vehicles from the movie and added Ralph to its “Car Vending Machine” locations in Phoenix and Orlando.
Atom Tickets, which teamed with Disney Movie Rewards to let users link accounts on both services, with extra points being available for those who bought tickets to this movie through Atom.
At the same time the first trailer hit the film’s directors talked about the challenge of expanding the story and how they wanted to introduce some more interesting and mature themes while remaining accessible to young audiences.
The movie was among those Disney teased to distribution execs and press at CinemaCon, showing off a bit of footage to get industry insiders excited. After that a photo was released showing Vanellope meeting all the assembled Disney Princesses, something the internet just ate up. The movie was also part of the later CineEurope presentation from the studio. It also showed up at the Annecy Animation Film Festival, offering attendees an exclusive look.
Another new look at the Princesses showed them in their casual wear, which generated a lot of conversation. A later profile of Reilly talked about his career so far while pointing out this was the first sequel he’s done to date.
A bit of controversy erupted around initial footage from the film that showed Tiana, the princess from The Princess and The Frog, had had her nose thinned out and skin lightened, making her appear less ethnically appropriate. That lead Disney to reanimate the character to correct those mistakes.
The focus on the princess characters is likely what lead Disney to announce it was rereleasing five movies featuring those women to AMC Theaters a few months prior to this movie coming out.
A “Special Look” video was released in late October that acted as kind of a trailer, with the focus on new music from rock band Imagine Dragons.
The first clip from the movie expanded a scene from the trailer with Ralph trying to search the internet with little success. Another has Ralph receiving some well-deserved hearts for creating a popular video.
In late October Disney released a video featuring Silverman celebrating the birthday of the first internet connection. Henson talked about the movie and more on “Kimmel.”
The first clip from just a few days ago featured Ralph and Vanellope realizing they’re in the internet.
There’s some good stuff here but overall it just never really comes together for me. It’s all flash and no substance, nothing offered for the audience to really latch on to. It might not matter, of course, as it’s a family-friendly film opening on a holiday weekend and a sequel to a popular movie. But I just don’t get some of the choices made for the campaign, which got derailed on a couple different occasions by focusing on the Disney Princess subplot, indicating this was more about brand management than anything else.
Picking Up The Spare
The movie’s production team was interviewed about how they created the look and feel of the internet’s innards.
Fortnite, the popular video game, featured an appearance by Wreck-It Ralph himself in conjunction with the release of the sequel.
Disney used WhatsApp for a couple promotions, creating the first studio to a sponsored sticker pack on the app and creating a business profile allowing fans to chat with the characters.
A new TV spot emphasized the positive reviews critics gave the movie while a clip offered audiences an extended look at a key scene.
John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix play the titular pair in the new movie The Sisters Brothers. Eli (Reilly) and Charlie (Phoenix) are a couple of assassins in the 1850s with a reputation for efficiency, cruelty and success, they find themselves pursued across Arizona by Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), who has a grudge to settle with the brothers.
Along the way Eli and Charlie deal with not only with the consequences of their actions but also Eli’s changed perspective on what they do and how long they can do it. So they have crises both personal and professional to surmount, including simply staying alive.
The shape of a skull wafts up to the sky from the dust kicked up by the brother’s horses on the poster, letting everyone know that death follows them on their journeys. The copy at the bottom hits that same point: “Make a killing. Make a living.”
Eli and Charlie are seen more clearly on the theatrical poster, standing side by side and looking rough from the life they lead. “Brothers by blood. Sisters by name.” is the copy at the top of the one-sheet.
As we see in the trailer, the two brothers are a pair of hired guns just trying to make a living in the Old West. Eli is looking for a way out of their violent life and dreams of opening a small store and setting down but Charlie seems to think this is all he knows how to do. They’re on the trail of a prospector/chemist who may have discovered a new way to pan for gold. The “why” of that isn’t made clear, just that Eli is hoping this will be their last outing.
It’s a pretty funny trailer, though not consistently and not in expected ways. Basically what’s being sold here is a kind of ironic Western more than anything, with some laughs along the way as we see people dealing with the violent life they need to live to survive.
A few paid Tweets crossed my radar, but that’s about it. No TV spots were found and I didn’t see any other online ads being run.
Media and Publicity
The movie was announced as one of those screening at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as the Venice Film Festival. Those appearances created a good amount of positive buzz and, in the case of the Deauville Film Festival, an award that the stars, writer and director were all on hand to collect.
Reilly spoke while in Toronto about the long journey he’s taken to get the movie made and more. There was also a profile of Reilly that covered how he’s always had a varied and interesting career, as well as talking about how this was one of several movies he had coming out in the next several months. A similar profile hit the same basic points.
A clip released earlier this week shows a showdown between the two men. At about the same it was announced the movie was being added to the lineup for the London Film Festival.
The emphasis in the publicity campaign has been on Reilly, which makes sense given Phoenix has been on quite a few recent releases that have involved a good number of interviews and other profiles. It’s good to see, since we don’t often enough give Reilly credit for being able to bounce effortlessly between comedy, drama and everything in between.
Overall the message of the campaign is that the movie deals with the effect violence has on your life and your soul. That’s a good message for today’s world, where violence is too often seen as something that can be easily compartmentalized and put to the side. The word of mouth that’s been generated in the last week or two thanks to festival screenings may help it find an audience in limited release.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
A newinterview with John C. Reilly includes hefty background on how is wife Alison Dickey was the one who found the novel and helped bring the movie along.
Another fulltrailer came out post-release. This one starts out by introducing the brothers and then explaining who they are what they do. What they’re running from isn’t made all that clear, but we do get lots of background on the bond between the two and how committed they are to each other, even if they’ve started to see things differently.
Costar Raz Ahmed spokehere about working on the movie and taking on a role that isn’t always available to non-white actors. And Rebecca Roottalks about being a trans woman playing a cis woman.
Author Patrick DeWitt, writer of the source novel, wasinterviewed about what it was like seeing his story and characters be turned into a movie.