Fatherhood – Marketing Recap

How Netflix has sold a drama of single parenting.

Based on the book Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love by Matthew Logelin, Fatherhood stars Kevin Hart as Logelin himself, a recently-widowed man whose wife dies and leaves him to raise their infant daughter Maddy (played as a slightly older child by Melody Hurd). Matthew struggles being the only one responsible for his daughter’s emotional, physical and mental well-being, seeking advice and help when it’s needed but determined to be the primary caregiver in her life.

The movie, hitting Netflix this week in time for Father’s Day, has been sold with a campaign emphasizing how unusual it is for a story to focus on a man being a single parent. As we’ll see, that resonates to varying degrees.

The Posters

Designed by marketing agency P+A, the poster from May shows Matthew asleep with Maddy snuggled beside him, the two fitting in the crib in which she still sleeps. The image is clearly meant to be a mix of sweet, showing how close the two are, and a little funny, playing off how Hart can fit in the crib by only bending his knees slightly.

How the copy “In it, together” uses the comma is also very specific. Without the comma the phrase reads as if the two are partners through life’s journey. With the comma, though, it separates the clauses more definitely, so it reads “They are in it. And they are together.” So you lose the “partners” meaning a bit. Interesting choice.

The Trailers

Matt is overwhelmed and looking for help as the first trailer (1 million views on YouTube), released in May, opens. He’s struggling to raise his newborn baby daughter following the death of his wife shortly after the baby was born. Friends and family offer various levels of support and advice, but Matt is determined to do it himself and while there are plenty of mistakes it’s clear he and his daughter are each other’s support system through the ups and downs.

Online and Social

Nope, but Netflix gave the movie some support on its brand social media profiles.

Advertising, Press and Publicity

Sony sold the movie to Netflix in conjunction with Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions in March, with the streamer setting a June release date.

A set of stills was released by Netflix in late April.

When Hart appeared on “The Tonight Show” in May he talked about the movie and how he wanted to depict a positive representation of black parenting.

A behind-the-scenes featurette from early June had the cast and crew talking about the story, the importance of seeing family movies centered around the emotional journey of fathers and more.

Matthew is dropping Maddy off at daycare in a short promo/TV spot released last week.

Earlier this week a faux focus group video with Hart trying to get feedback from a bunch of preschoolers was released, the primary goal of which being to show how out of control Hart is.

Overall

What we’re sold here is a Kevin Hart movie we’ve seen variations of before — albeit more on the emotional side and not so much on the overt comedy end of the spectrum — wrapped in a parenting drama. If the movie is truly more dramatic than other entries in Hart’s career, it might have been a better choice to not include so much of his usual self-deprecating mugging. I enjoy the schtick, but it’s out of place here if the message is intended to be different than his other movies.

Also, given there are plenty of movies about how single fatherhood is distinct from single motherhood (Sleepless in Seattle, Pursuit of Happyness, Gifted, The Descendants, Jersey Girl and others all come to mind), the message that this is a unicorn of a film that audiences may not have seen or considered before doesn’t ring entirely accurate. It’s still a nice little campaign, but the two core messages don’t land as solidly as they need to.

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.

Overall

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 Upside – Marketing Recap

the upside posterKevin Hart departs from his usual brand of comedy – one that involves him making a lot of short jokes and acting nervously hyper – to costar in The Upside along with Bryan Cranston. Hart plays Dell, a former convict who is trying to find work and turn his life around.

An opportunity arises when he becomes the personal assistant to Philip (Cranston), a quadriplegic who hires Dell to help him move through the world. Unlike Dell, Philip is extremely wealthy and has the means to do so. The clash between the two eventually gives way to something more friendly as they each see value in the lessons they other has to offer.

The Posters

One of the first bits of promotional imagery was repurposed for the first poster, with Hart riding on the back of Cranston’s wheelchair. There’s not much more to say about it as the main point here is just to show the very basic notion of the relationship between the two characters while offering no other information about the story.

The Trailers

Dell is having trouble finding work in the first trailer, eventually happening across a position as the physical aid for a wealthy quadriplegic. He’s wholly unqualified, but gets the job anyway, learning what kind of help Phillip needs on a daily basis and enjoying the benefits of the lifestyle he’s found himself in the middle of. They bond and find that, beyond the physical needs, the two have a lot to offer each other in the form of new emotions, new experiences and more.

There’s a tendency here to play up some of Hart’s more comedic moments so as to show this isn’t a complete departure from the kind of movie he’s best known for. Overall, though, there’s a superficial and not all that intriguing story being sold here that seems to play into some notable cliches and tropes.

Online and Social

Only a small amount of content and information about the movie is offered on its official website, just the trailer and a synopsis. There were also Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles created by STX. On Twitter in particular the studio shared some funny GIFs and clips to help tie to the movie to Hart’s brand of humor.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The first paid effort was a promoted Tweet that used a short video to sell the movie to the public. A couple TV spots followed closer to release that focused on the friendship between the two characters and one on the working dynamic they share. Short videos were also used as pre-roll spots.

Media and Publicity

Originally titled The Intouchables it was later renamed to be, as with other such movies, as boring and generic as possible. The Weinstein Co. took the movie to the Toronto International Film Festival, where it accumulated some decent reviews that praised the chemistry between Hart and Cranston. It was there that the Weinsteins announced they would do some schedule changing to release it in time to qualify for this year’s awards season, with a wider release coming months later.

Unfortunately it was subsequently pulled from the release schedule completely due to all the drama within TWC as well as the fact that TWC always pulls every movie from release at some point because it doesn’t have the capital to support it. It was eventually picked up by STX Entertainment, partnering with Lantern to save the movie from oblivion.

The announcement that Hart would host this year’s Academy Awards ceremony gave the movie a nice conversational bump, even if the broadcast itself won’t be for a month after it opens. Much of that was undone in the following 24 hours, though, as people took him to task for old homophobic Tweets, leading him to drop out as host, only apologizing for what he’d said after the fact.

Hart and Cranston each spoke in a featurette where they talked about working with each other and telling a true story like this. Director Neil Burger appeared in another where he talked about the divide the characters must cross to relate to each other.

A couple interviews with Cranston had him focusing on playing a character with disabilities, something that other actors have recently come under fire for. His response to that, unfortunately, isn’t great and only served to pour gasoline on the fire.

Overall

Any and all stories about how this might be a contender to dethrone Aquaman from the top of the box office are ridiculous. Even if it weren’t the case that the movie had been collecting dust for over a year because of unrelated problems it just gives off the vibe of being a project no one should be thrilled with, the very definition of the cast-off January release. It features actors who are better than the material in roles that are rooted in terrible stereotypes, all supported by a marketing campaign that isn’t sure what kind of movie its selling.

Picking Up the Spare

A new clip and TV spot were released in the days leading up to the movie hitting theaters. More commercials like this came later that touted the movie’s status at the top of the box-office following opening weekend.

Hart also finally made some media appearances, but a lot of that was dominated by the ongoing conversation about whether or not he was hosting the Oscars and what kind of opinions he had on people. Cranston did likewise.

Great piece by Variety’s Rebecca Rubin on the ways the filmmakers turned things around and managed to overcome the disadvantages the movie faced.

Interesting details here on how STXfilms used targeted advertising to run a paid campaign contingent on guaranteed ticket sales and ad effectiveness.

Night School – Marketing Recap

night school posterBased on the marketing, recapped at The Hollywood Reporter, Night School doesn’t look all that different from most of the rest of Kevin Hart’s filmography. That’s likely the point, though.

Online and Social

Nothing particularly notable happening on the movie’s official website, which just has the trailer, a sub-par story synopsis and links to its social profiles.

Media and Publicity

Hart shared a story of his long-time friendship with Haddish just as the trailer dropped, a story he told again on TV later on in the campaign. Haddish later appeared during Paramount’s CinemaCon presentation to promote the movie to exhibitors and generally charm the room. The movie was also part of the later CineEurope presentation from the studio.

There was a THR cover story on Haddish that covered the comedian’s career to date but which focused on how Girls Trip acts as a dividing line in her career, with this movie coming in the second part, part of her expansion into a cultural phenomenon and box-office draw in her own right. She kept showing up on the late night shows to talk about how frugal she is and expand on some of those stories.

Another spotlight profile of Haddish made it into Glamour and she later did a “3 Ridiculous Questions” segment with Jimmy Kimmel that didn’t address the movie directly but was part of her overall public persona. Both Haddish and Hart later appeared at the MTV VMAs.

Haddish talked about how the story made her laugh when reading it in a story covering the many films she’s appearing in this fall.

Hart co-hosted “The Tonight Show” one night last week and later chatted with Seth Meyers while Haddish appeared on “The Late Show” to banter with Stephen Colbert.

Adweek put Hart on its cover, and featured him during its “Brandweek” marketing summit event, recently to spotlight what a valuable marketing personality he is. Right after that the movie’s premiere featured Haddish leading the audience in prayer along with a few jokes.

One more big feature on how Hart came up with the idea and assembled the cast and crew to make that into reality.

Overall

You kind of have to wonder how much longer Kevin Hart can sustain this. He’s certainly staying on brand, but whether or not that works depends so much on the material. In this case the campaign winds up seeming like a greatest hits package of his various ticks and go-to personas. Your mileage may vary regarding how much that works for you.

What strikes me, though, is how people still don’t know what to do with Tiffany Haddish. I mean…why is she the straight woman in this story? It’s great that she’s getting steady work, and you can certainly see how the campaign shifted to give her more of the spotlight, but she would seem to deserve more.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Hart spoke here about how he didn’t go crazy celebrating after the movie did so well in its opening weekend.

IndieWire reviews the very successful career of producer Will Packer, including his ability to target audiences through grassroots and targeted campaigns.

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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