Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

As the other movies do, this one gets its own page on StarWars.com, complete with a collection of the posters, teasers, featurettes, photos and more. Blog posts that contain movie material or which highlight related announcements can be found on the page as well.

Media and Press

While we were still in the hype cycle for Episode XIII it was announced that Trevorrow, who’d long been attached to the project, had left. That was two Star Wars movies in row, including the Han Solo one, that had high-profile director shifts. Three if you count how Josh Trank was involved in a movie right up to the point he wasn’t. That firing was apparently a long-time coming and resulted from the director’s own personality issues, which caused tension with producer Kathleen Kennedy, and the fact that unlike on Jurassic World he didn’t have Steven Spielberg around to protect him.

Shockwaves then emanated when it was announced The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams would return for this movie, which was also pushed back from May to December. Later on, as part of the publicity for The Last Jedi, Abrams talked about taking the opportunity to return and close out the trilogy he started.

Isaac and others from the cast talked about the movie while promoting other projects.

A wide-ranging profile of Abrams included his recounting of the unusual sequence of events leading to his rejoining the franchise and his feelings of concern, panic, stress, excitement and more around doing so.

There as a significant press push in the wake of Star Wars Celebration and the debut of the first teaser. That included Abrams revealing Lucas was involved in crafting at least part of the story and Boyega making it clear he didn’t know what the title referred to either.

Abrams and members of the cast appeared on “Good Morning America” shortly after Celebration to talk about the movie and explain (or not) some of what was going on.

Meanwhile, Hamill explained why he has so much fun poking at obsessive Star Wars fans.

As has been the case with every Star Wars movie since 1999’s The Phantom Menace, the publicity cycle included a Vanity Fair cover story featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes photos by Annie Leibovitz. That series of stories offered not only new looks at the cast and sets but also additional details about what the story entails and what fans can expect from the film.

Ridley was interviewed about the emotional moment that was the final day of filming.

Another interview with Abrams in the wake of D23 had the director clarifying that nothing about The Last Jedi was being discarded, nor had that movie upset any plans for the series’ story. So, despite the outcry of disgruntled or disappointed viewers, that movie is still canon. He later shared his thinking on why it was important for Palpatine to return for this movie and more.

EW debuted a first official look at Zorri Bliss, the mysterious character played by Keri Russell. At around the same time Abrams was interviewed about his assurance that the movie would provide a satisfying conclusion to the nine-film epic story and more details were revealed about the watery planet seen in the trailers. Ackie was profiled in an interview about her reaction to joining the Star Wars universe.

In late November EW offered a big cover feature that included a number of other interviews, photos and other inside looks at the movie, with comments from most of the cast and crew. At the same time Rolling Stone ran its own package that included an interview with Kennedy about this movie and the future of the Star Wars franchise as well as another interview with Abrams about the story of the movie.

Late night appearances by the cast and Abrams started in late November as well, with Driver and Russell showing up on “The Late Show” as did Abrams. Ridley and Boyega showed up on “The Tonight Show” while Isaac chatted on “Late Night.” Russell chatted on “The Tonight Show” as well while Tran appeared on “The Daily Show.”

An extended profile of Williams had him talking about the legacy of Lando he still holds tightly to as well as his overall career and coming out of semi-retirement to revisit the character one last time.

An interview with Ridley allowed her to talk about what her plans for self-care are following her involvement in a massive multi-year commitment. Tran finally joined the press effort with an interview making it clear Rose has evolved in the time since the last story. A profile of Daniels included him promising this wasn’t the last you’ve heard of him as C-3PO while a similar interview with McDiarmid allowed him to talk about his expectation that he was done with the character of Palpatine until he got the call.

Abrams talked about the behind the scenes drama that lead to him coming back to the franchise and lots more in this extended profile that included him throwing a little shade at Johnson’s middle installment for being too “meta.” One of the movie’s cowriters spoke about trying to craft a worthy final chapter for the story.

The same night as the movie’s premiere, the whole cast along with Abrams appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to engage in games and more. Lupita Nyong’o, who is always forgotten about when discussing the cast, talked about the movie on “The Daily Show.”

Tran was interviewed about her experiences with Star Wars and more here.

Overall

Picking Up the Spare

That mysterious message from the presumed-dead Palpatine that kicks off the events of the movie was revealed in Fortnite, likely because of the promotional tie-in with that game. The movie’s editor explained why that message was cut from the film as well.

Abrams has praised Johnson while trying to downplay any potential bad blood because of the different directions the two directors took.

An interview with Terrio allowed him to dig an even deeper hole regarding the way the story makes Rose Tico into a non-factor.

A new featurette from IMAX has the cast and crew talking about their experiences making the movie. Another video from IMAX has them all sharing their favorite moments from throughout the Star Wars movies while a third has Issac answering fan-submitted questions.

One more TV spot touting the movie’s box-office success.

Second unit director Victoria Mahoney has finally been getting some attention, in part because she’s the first woman to have any directorial duties on a Star Wars feature.

The Addams Family – Marketing Recap

What started in the 1930s as a simple comic strip about an unusual and slightly ghoulish family gets an animated update from MGM.

addams family posterThe Addams Family, this week’s major animated release, is just the latest in a long string of adaptations of Charles Addams’ single-panel comics that originally ran in The New Yorker. This version features the voice talents of Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday and Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley, among many other notable names.

In the movie, the Addams clan picks up and moves to New Jersey. Once there, the family finds they have trouble fitting in, largely because of the intrusion of smarmy TV host Margaux Needler (Allison Janney). She whips up neighborhood sentiment against the Addamses, something they react to in their usual twisted – but never actually evil – way. The story, then, is about accepting people for who they are and not being afraid of differences.

MGM’s campaign has presented a movie offering something new for a new generation while also paying homage to the 80 years of history the property has. Tracking estimates predict an opening weekend of around $25 million, which could be enough to beat out Gemini Man if that movie underperforms.

The Posters

The first teaser poster (by marketing agency Proof), released in late March, offers a good look at the Addams household and family members, asking the audience to reconsider whether they really think their own family is weird.

A series of posters came out in late July that featured each character along with a short little modern catchphrase that’s appropriate to them. So Uncle Fester, for instance, is shown with a light bulb in his mouth and the phrase “It’s gonna be lit” next to him.

The Trailers

All families are average and unique, the first trailer (9.5 million views on YouTube) starts out by explaining, but some – like the Addams – are more unique than others. There’s no story to speak of that’s offered by the footage on display, just a series of violent and mysterious events that are both creepy and funny in their own way to show how deranged – and dangerous – every member family truly is.

There’s more story offered in the official trailer (11.7 million views on YouTube), released in early August. It starts with Morticia using her unconventional methods to wake Wednesday and Pugsley along with other displays of how odd the family is, including a joke about Wednesday finding the red balloon usually held by IT’s murderous clown Pennywise. The Addams are moving to the New Jersey suburbs, where their unusual tendencies and behavior soon becomes cause for concern among the “normal” families already living there.

A third trailer came out in early September that’s short, basically a cut down version of the earlier spot. It focuses on the reaction of the Addams’ new neighbors to the family’s unusual behavior and habits but doesn’t get into much of the rest of the story.

Online and Social

The official website for the movie is rather well-stocked and engaging. There’s the usual array of marketing materials, and the “About” synopsis is underwritten and vague, but there’s plenty to capture visitor’s attention in the “Activities” section, which includes additional How To videos to watch (more on this below) and printouts to help reinforce the connection with the brand.

There’s also a Giphy channel where the studio has shared GIFs from the trailers and other videos.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The first trailer was used in a Promoted Tweet shortly after it came out.

A short lyric video for “My Family,” a collaboration between Migos, Karol G, Snoop Dogg and Rock Mafia was released that contained footage from the film, with a Spanish language version coming out later. At the beginning of October a video for Christina Aguilera’s “Haunted Heart” was released.

Fandango MovieClips was given an exclusive featurette that had the cast and crew talking about how this movie pays homage to the original comic strips.

The first clip, released at the beginning of October, featured an extended look at the dinner scene glimpsed in the trailers. A bit later EW debuted an exclusive clip that has Lurch and It playing the organ, eventually dabbling with the classic theme song from the show.

A whole series of videos was released beginning about a week prior to the movie hitting theaters offering spooky Halloween recipes and decorating tips. That included:

It wasn’t part of the series, but Wednesday tried to become a beauty influencer by offering makeup tips that guaranteed to “make it look like you haven’t slept in years.” The video completely seems like a legit influencer post, including a reminder to subscribe and follow her on Instagram.

MGM lined up a number of brand promotional partners ranging from Hershey’s to IHOP to Cost Plus World Market and more, most all of which are included in my latest article for Adweek. Additionally, Ring allowed customers to add the Addams’ theme to their doorbell and T-Mobile ran a scavenger hunt where people could win $1,000 in movie tickets from Atom Tickets for finding clues scattered throughout the trailers.

addams family online adOnline ads used the key art and other visual/video elements to drive traffic to the website where people could buy tickets.

Interviews with members of the cast were shared by AMC Theaters in an exclusive featurette while RealD3D interviewed Moretz.

Media and Publicity

A first look at the visual style of the movie accompanied the announcement of the talented voice cast.

Universal included unfinished footage from the film in its CineEurope presentation to exhibitors in mid-June.

As release approached, Theron made an appearance on “Kimmel,” Moretz showed up on “Ellen” and more, including the leads talking about the movie on “Good Morning America.”

Overall

At the movie’s premiere, the cast talked about updating the Addams Family for modern times, and that’s the central focus of the movie’s campaign. The characters have always in some way reflected the era, from the eccentricity of the wealthy in the 1930s to the kinds of neighbors you might find in the expanding suburbs of the 60s to the goth culture of the 90s. So it’s only natural that now, in an age where we are debating immigration, cultural assimilation and similar topics, they’ve become a metaphor for the theoretical “other” that intrudes upon “normal” society.

That aside, the campaign as a whole is just a lot of fun. It plays with the characters in new and interesting ways while also making it clear it’s just the latest in a string of interpretations. Everything, even down to the brand partnerships, is on-brand, presenting a coherent and consistent message to the audience no matter where it might be encountered.

Often, campaigns for reboots or new versions of long-running properties only pay lip service to what’s come before. MGM’s campaign here, though, makes it clear it’s enthusiastically embracing all previous incarnations, especially the 60s TV show. Products at Cost Plus featured photos of John Astin, Carolyn Jones and the other actors and the studio also put a handful of full episodes from the show up on YouTube for free streaming.

While it may not reach the dark, twisted heights of the 1991 live-action film, comparing anything to Raul Julia and Angelica Huston being directed by Barry Sonnenfeld is unfair on its face. Still, it’s a great way to keep the characters fresh and introduce them to a whole new audience in a way that feels organic for 2019.

Picking Up the Spare

Theron spoke about the themes the story touches on and how important they are to the current time at the film’s premiere.

More DIY videos have been released, including for Wednesday’s Halloween Lemonade, Fester’s Pumpkin and Pugsley’s Rocket Ship.

Triple Frontier – Marketing Recap

triple frontier poster7The former Special Forces operatives at the heart of Triple Frontier have had enough of being underappreciated by the country they defended. Directed by J.C. Chandor, the story follows five disgruntled specialists who, tired of having to scrape by after dedicating their lives to public service, decide to to use some of the intel they’ve gathered for their own benefit.

To that end they set out to rob the estate of a notorious South American drug lord. Determined to get what they can so they can retire in some comfort, they face the reality that they are out on their own for the first time without a sanctioning country and military at their back. That means when the mission goes south they have no one to rely on but themselves. The movie features an all-star cast including Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Pedro Pascal, Garrett Hedlund and…not…Garrett Hedlund.

The Posters

The primary poster sets up the story pretty effectively, showing all five of the specialists who are engaging in the heist walking toward the camera in full gear and with bags – presumably full of money – in their hands. The green foliage shown in that photo as well as in the title treatment establish the setting while the movie’s creative bonafides are communicated by name-dropping Chandor’s previous well-known films.

Character one-sheets showed all five ex-soldiers who embark on the mission along with Adria Arjona, who plays a character who’s ill-defined by the marketing.

The Trailers

The beginning of the first trailer from last December is much like many others, focusing on a core team of special operators who are about to embark on a mission so dangerous they’re being given an out. Text shown over the footage, combined with the briefing being given by Davis, explains that they’re about to try and steal a massive amount of money from a drug cartel and that this operation is a robbery, not a sanctioned mission. After this they’ll be on their own. But they’re willing to take that risk because they feel they’ve been left on the side by the military they swore allegiance to.

The second trailer, which debuted on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” shows how it’s Garcia that recruits the team, playing on the money problems and overall dissatisfaction the rest of the team are experiencing. There’s more of the same setup from the first trailer, but we see that the mission goes south unexpectedly, leading the team to have to improvise and make harder choices than they expected to just to survive.

Online and Social

While there wasn’t an official website, Netflix did create at least a Twitter account for the movie which it used to share the same sort of videos, links and other information other movie profiles offer.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Online ads used shots and video elements of the main actors, all in full combat gear, to sell the movie as a star-studded action film.

The movie sponsored a special basketball draft event from online betting site DraftKings

Media and Publicity

The movie was originally set up at Paramount, which dropped the project in 2017, at which point Netflix picked it up and moved forward with a different cast and crew.

Isaac, Affleck and others were all featured in a story including a first look still from the movie. Affleck showed up on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie and, as mentioned before, debut the second trailer. The actor also spoke about Netflix and how he saw it as the future of film distribution and viewing while he and Hunnam appeared on “The Today Show” to talk about the story.

The Playlist hosted an exclusive piece from the movie’s soundtrack composed by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. Chandor revealed in an interview just before release that he found a rescue dog while filming, as did other members of the crew.

An exclusive clip hosted by IGN showed a pivotal moment from the story as the characters make an important decision about the mission. That site also interviewed the whole cast and crew, while Hedlund went solo to try and distill the movie’s story for audiences.

Overall

Honestly the most exciting part of the campaign is that the movie comes from director J.C. Chandor, who has a track record of crafting tight, emotional stories around a simple premise. He’s not a big part of the marketing push, which isn’t surprising given the star power on display here, but he’s still noticeable as the latest in a strong of high-profile directors working with Netflix on original features.

Outside of that, the campaign sells an emotionally conflicted action drama that has the potential to not only tell a harrowing story but also one the focuses on how treats its veterans and how they feel neglected (at best) following their years of service. There are some good visual elements to the marketing that are a mark above what Netflix usually offers in terms of effort, another sign they see treating talent well (including a limited theatrical release) as a key tactic in their long-term strategy.

Picking Up the Spare

Netflix released a featurette on the music from a key sequence in the movie and one that focused on the work out costar Adria Arjona did to get in shape for the production.

Isaac showed up on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie but of course the conversation turned to Star Wars. He and Pascal also did one of those Wired features about frequent web searches about them.

Chandor was interviewed about the lessons the movie offered to himself and the audience. He also offered his thoughts on working with Netflix and how he got involved with the project.

There was also renewed discussion of the long road the project took before finally being filmed.

Affleck spoke about the movie and other aspects of his career.

Operation Finale – Marketing Recap

The story of bringing a notorious Nazi leader to justice forms the core of the marketing for OPERATION FINALE.

operation finale poster 1I don’t go into it too deeply in my THR-hosted recap of the movie’s marketing, but if Operation Finale were to open up a whole new wave of “let’s hunt Nazi” movies, books, TV shows and other media to show how repugnant this movement and its perpetrators were – and are – I’d be down with that.

Online and Social

The best part of the otherwise-paltry official website is the collection of videos on the site, many of which seem to be unlisted on MGM’s YouTube channel. So in addition to the trailers and featurettes you’ll be able to watch all kinds of TV and other commercials. There are also links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Media and Publicity

Director Chris Weitz and members of the cast spoke at the movie’s premiere about the timeliness of the story and other aspects of the film.

Isaac was interviewed about the film and spoke about how it was a learning process for him, how he collaborated with Weitz in his role as a producer and how he’s disturbed by how some unpleasant philosophies similar to what’s shown in the movie are on the rise again.

Costar Joe Alwyn spoke about why he agreed to play Eichmann’s son.

Overall

Yep, let’s do this. I’m all for “bring Nazis to justice” movies since it’s something we could use a steady dose of to remind us just how hard so many people fought to settle this debate generations ago.

More seriously, with such a casual approach to the way Nazi-adjacent philosophies and rhetoric are thrown around by some these days, there’s a lesson to be learned here about how not that long ago heaven and earth were moved to bring those responsible for the terrors of the Holocaust to justice. If this movie can serve as that lesson, so much the better.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Isaac and Kingsley both share their thoughts on making the film here, including Kingsley remembering a conversation he had years ago with famed Nazi hunter Elie Wiesel. He also spoke about the way he approached such a difficult role and how his work on Schindler’s List helped in many ways.

Isaac and director Chris Weitz spoke more about the movie and its story and the challenges of making the movie here.

A new poster continues the “picture within a picture” theme with a photo of the planning of Eichmann’s capture within a photo of Kingsley as Eichmann.