Infinite – Marketing Recap

How Paramount+ is selling a time-twisting action movie.

Infinite, starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Antoine Fuqua, is the first non-Spongebob movie to make its debut on the Paramount+ streaming service, arriving there later this week. As such it represents something of a statement on the part of Paramount, indicating the platform is for more than kids programming, library content and a few prestige series.

Wahlberg stars as Evan McCauley, a man haunted by recurring visions and confused when he finds he has skills he’s never trained for or practiced. One day he’s tracked down by a mysterious group calling themselves Infinites, who tell him these are memories and skills he’s accumulated in past lives. The group needs his help to track down others like them who are determined to end life on Earth. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Cookson and Jason Mantzoukas among others also star.

The Posters

Just one poster (by marketing agency Bond) for the film. Released in late May, it shows McCauley behind concentric circles that ultimately form an infinity symbol in order to reinforce the title’s branding. There’s no text or other copy to explain the story, so either the studio felt it was too hard to explain on the one-sheet or that Wahlberg’s presence was enough to generate audience interest.

The Trailers

Ted Murray (Ejiofor) is talking with McCauley about the voices McCauley hears and more as the first trailer (10.7 million views on YouTube), released at the end of May, begins. Murray taunts McCauley with a series of random objects until he finally triggers McCauley’s memories. Just as that happens a car bursts through the interrogation room wall and we’re off to the races. We hear about how McCauley is an Infinite and how unlocking his past will offer a guide for his future.

The second trailer (3.6 million views on YouTube) came out just a week later and begins with clips from the same interrogation scene mixed with shots of McCauley’s unremarkable but slightly confusing life. This time it’s Tammy McCauley (Cookson) who provides the backstory exposition before we get to lots more chases and fight sequences in exotic locales around the world. Oh, and we finally see the real draw of the movie, which is Mantzoukas’ unhinged tech guy performance.

Online and Social

Nothing here that was specific to the movie, but it was given some support — though not as much as recent high-profile series and other material — on Paramount+’s brand social profiles.

Advertising, Press and Publicity

In May Paramount announced the movie, originally scheduled for theatrical release August of last year but pushed because of the coronavirus pandemic, would instead bypass theaters and debut exclusively on Paramount Plus. An actual release date was finally revealed in May, just about two weeks before that date.

IGN debuted an exclusive first photo from the movie in late May in conjunction with the release of the first trailer.

A short promo was released at the end of May that presents many of the main characters and sets up the presence of a mystery that spans lifetimes and eons. It’s meant to be serious and important but it comes off a bit silly, like some kind of futuristic wrestling match

Taking a more traditional approach is another TV spot-like video that features an off-screen voice explaining to Evan how he’s lived countless lifetimes and is crucial to the future of the world.

Overall

I’m not sure how much of the marketing materials here were set and ready a while ago when the movie was originally scheduled for late 2020, but the tight timeframe mandated by how it’s been less than two months since a new release strategy was announced doesn’t help the campaign much. Everything feels rushed and breezed over, when a story like this typically benefits from taking a bit longer so some of the more ridiculous plot points can be ironed out and explained.

That extremely-condensed campaign is filled with sci-fi speak in what appears to be an attempt to position it as something similar to Inception, but there’s not enough of the story on display to create those stakes. Fuqua’s directing, then, might be the most engaging element of the marketing.

Instant Family – Marketing Recap

instant family poster 2Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) are a happily married couple who decide they want to have kids but don’t really want to deal with all the messiness of the first few years. So they decide to become foster parents, eventually choosing three siblings, including a teenage girl and her younger brother and sister.

Things don’t go smoothly, of course. Lizzy (Isabela Moner), the oldest girl, is stubborn and writes off the couple’s intentions as just being a case of some white liberal guilt being assuaged. That goes hand in hand with Ellie and Pete’s inexperience with parenting and, put together, you have the recipe for some awkward but charmingly humorous moments.

The Posters

instant family posterThe adults are on one side and the kids on the other on the first poster, each looking somewhat skeptical at the other party. A second poster shows the whole crew all together, the adults looking either naively happy or very worried while the kids look like they’re having zero fun.

The Trailers

Ellie and Pete are not joiners in the first trailer, the kind of couple who haven’t had kids yet but who decide to investigate fostering because it skips some of the early problems. They’re super awkward about the process but eventually wind up with not just one but three kids, a sibling set. It takes a while and there are some hard, uphill moments, but eventually everyone figures each other out.

Online and Social

In keeping with the theme of some of the featurettes and other material released, the movie’s official website – which has a .org address – has less about the film itself and more about adoption and foster care. The Facebook page for the movie links to a Group where people are discussing issues related to adoption and family support. There was also a Twitter profile.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Some online advertising was done, particularly on YouTube and other social networks and there seem to have been some TV spots created, but nothing under Paramount’s official banner so I’m unclear as to what is or isn’t real. There are certainly some videos shared online that look and feel like commercials, they’re just not labeled as such. The movie also promoted Tweets from Wahlberg.

Unlike most movies, the promotional partners here are all cause-based, from the Dave Thomas Foundation to AdoptUSKids and Jockey USA. The goal of these partnerships seems to be to get people involved and educated, which is great.

Media and Publicity

The movie was part of the studio’s presentation to exhibition executives at CineEurope in mid-July 2018.

At the same time the first trailer came out in early September, just after a first still hit, a featurette was released that had writer/director Sean Anders and his wife Beth talking about their own real life experiences that inspired the movie.

An interview with Spencer had her talking about the movie and how it’s among the more lighthearted projects she still chooses.

Byrne and Wahlberg did the media rounds on TV while Byrne and other members of the cast volunteered at local California charities to help during the current wildfire crisis in and around L.A.

Overall

There really are two aspects to the campaign that in some ways appear to be working toward opposite goals.

First, there’s the forgettable family comedy that’s being sold via the posters and trailer. We’ve seen variations on this movie before, including previous films starring Byrne (who really deserves better) and Wahlberg (who, not to put too fine a point on it, doesn’t). We get it, the would-be parents are flustered and out of their element and the wife looks so understanding and loving.

Second, there’s the advocacy campaign that the movie seems to be one factor of. This goes much further into selling the issue that lies at the heart of the film’s story than most campaigns for cause-based movies do. That’s really strong, making this seem like an extended PSA for adoption and foster-parenting.

For as much as the website and featurettes hit that point, I kind of wish it can gone even farther. It’s great that Paramount allowed even this much latitude, though, and good on the filmmakers for telling a very personal story that they’re trying to get in front of a mass audience.

Picking Up The Spare

I missed this featurette where adopted children answered interesting questions, unaware their parents were listening in.

Wahlberg appeared on “The Tonight Show” to give everyone in the audience a special screening while Byrne was interviewed about getting the comedy/drama ratio just right.

The filmmakers were interviewed again about how and why they decided to tell this story.

Mile 22 – Marketing Recap

mile 22 posterMy recap of the marketing for Mile 22 at The Hollywood Reporter couches the fact that Mark Wahlberg is one of our generation’s least interesting actors and that he and director Peter Berg need to be broken up like Ma Bell before they do any more cinematic damage.

Online and Social

I get what STX was going for with the official website but it just doesn’t work for me. While there is a drop-down menu on the left with all the usual content sections as well as links to the movie’s social profiles, the main page is one you scroll down and click on each of the 22 mile markers to view something like a featurette or still.

Media and Publicity

There was one more “digital spot” released that focused, of course, on the stunts and fight work for the movie. Wahlberg also finally started doing some press, appearing on “The Late Show” to joke about Boston accents and more.

Overall

The entire sales pitch for the movie is centered around Wahlberg’s character being that guy at the bar who won’t shut up about how tough he is, daring someone to punch him in the face. We never see him be tough, we just hear about it an awful lot. This does not look good.