How Netflix has sold its latest fantasy adventure
Marlow Barkley stars as Nemo in Slumberland, new this week on Netflix. Nemo is a young girl mourning the loss of her father Peter (Kyle Chandler) by escaping in her dreams to the fantasy world of Slumberland, where she hopes she’ll find him. Helping her navigate Slumberland is the outlaw Flip (Jason Momoa) and the two opposites bond as they continue on their journey, each with their own agenda.
Directed by Francis Lawrence and based on the “Little Nemo in Slumberland” comic strip, the movie also stars Chris O’Dowd, Weruche Opia and others. Let’s look at how it’s been sold to the public.
announcement and casting
Netflix announced the film in mid-2020, with members of the cast added to the roster over the next few months. A first look still was revealed in April of 2021, with Netflix saying the film would be out the next year.
Footage from the film was included in Netflix’s 2022 feature film preview.
the marketing campaign
Netflix kicked off the marketing of the movie in August with the release of a teaser trailer (3.5m YouTube views). It starts off with Peter telling Nemo a story about Slumberland. Most of the spot shows Nemo having adventures in that fantasy world with Flip to show off the visuals while not going into the actual story very deeply.
“Every adventure begins with a dream” we’re told on the poster that came out at the same time. It shows Nemo sitting on her bed, with the dream world represented as an upside down reflection of the real world. It’s very beautiful, with an artistic approach taken that is increasingly uncommon on Netflix’s one-sheets lately.
A month later during its TUDUM virtual event an extended clip came out of Flip explaining the rules of surviving in Slumberland to Nemo and therefore the audience.
The official trailer (8.4m YouTube views) was released in early October. As it begins we see Nemo is adjusting to her new life, including going to an actual school, following the passing of her father. Nemo finds herself in Slumberland alongside Flip, who it turns out used to work with Peter. But while Slumberland is a magical place with incredible places and creatures it’s also dangerous, something Nemo finds out as she searches for her father.
Flip and Nemo, along with the stuffed pig that accompanies them, are seen on what looks like a thrill ride on the next poster. The lighthouse where Nemo grew up with her dad is seen in the background
Each of the main characters gets their turn in the spotlight on a series of posters released in early November that look very much like comic book variant covers.
Momoa promoted the movie when he appeared on “Kimmel” last week, though of course he also discussed some of his other projects.
Mattress company Casper partnered with Netflix for a special “in-bed screening” at Casper’s Dreamery in New York City this coming weekend. Everyone could register to join the event virtually, with a sweepstakes also run for those who wanted to share their home setups on Instagram.
It’s a fine campaign and there’s nothing here to argue with or call out specifically, but that’s true in both directions, meaning there’s also nothing particularly special or hugely engaging about what’s being presented. We’ve seen movies about visiting dream worlds and movies about searching the afterlife for lost loved ones before and the marketing from Netflix doesn’t offer much that’s unique about either idea to latch onto.
That’s not to say it’s a bad campaign, just that it presents a movie that seems entirely adequate and probably enjoyable but isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, even with Momoa’s larger than life presence.