confess, fletch – marketing recap

How Miramax has (or hasn’t) sold the latest outing for everyone’s favorite laconic reporter

Confess,Fletch movie poster from Miramax
Confess,Fletch movie poster from Miramax

There have been a number of attempts over the years to revive the character of Fletch, originally appearing in the novels of writer Gregory Mcdonald. Chevy Chase brought the character to life in two movies but the series lost steam when the sequel was less…well…less than the original. Kevin Smith, Bill Lawrence and others have made attempts at revivals, but none actually moved forward until now.

Greg Mottola directs – and cowrote with Zev Borow – this week’s Confess, Fletch. Based on Mcdonald’s second novel, the movie stars Jon Hamm as erstwhile reporter Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher. When he’s asked to investigate the theft of a millionaire’s art collection he finds himself the lead suspect in a related murder case. So he has to prove his innocence and also find who was responsible for both crimes.

Hamm’s “Mad Men” partner John Slattery costars as Fletch’s editor Frank Jaffe while Roy Wood Jr. plays Det. Monroe, who Fletch keeps bumping into. Lorenza Izzo, Marcia Gay Harden and Kyle MacLachlan also appear as some of those who either need Fletch’s help or who are very interested in him not figuring out what’s going on.

announcements and casting

The movie was announced in July, 2020, with Hamm starring and producing and Mottola directing. Wood Jr., Slattery and the rest of the cast was added about year later in June, 2021 when filming began.

Mottola marked the official beginning of production with a photo.

the marketing campaign

The campaign didn’t kick off until the last week of August with the release of the trailer (2.2m YouTube views). Fletch is on vacation as it starts but is pulled back to the world with the promise of a good story. As soon as he starts digging around the art theft he becomes mixed up in the murder investigation.

At the same time the poster came out, offering a painted take on Fletch, Izzo’s Angela and a dead body lying in the background. Rome’s Colosseum is also seen, establishing the location of at least some of the story.

Fletch unsuccessfully tries to get Jaffe to pull some strings to help his investigation in a clip. In another clip given exclusively to Fandango he meets the art broker played by MacLachlan.

A trailer cutdown came out as the movie became available on digital platforms that takes out much of the story in favor of focusing on Hamm’s breezy charm.

Hamm did a few interviews where he talked about taking his own non-Chase approach to the character and working with Mottola to leave the previous film incarnation behind in favor of sticking closer to the source novels.

overall

As many people have pointed out, this movie features a top-name actor (Hamm) working with a top-name comedic director (Mottola) on a very recognizable character and franchise. Yet it seems Paramount isn’t very enthusiastic about selling it to the public, putting more effort into its recent horror sequel Orphan Lives. And if you went looking for the movie in theaters you’d be out of luck, as it’s only available on a handful of screens at the same time it’s available on Showtime and through VOD platforms.

That lack of muscle is a real shame because Hamm looks absolutely fantastic as Fletch, taking a more nuanced approach than Chase did, one without all the crazy disguises and vignettes. Not only that, but Mottola’s directing appears assured and focused on selling the performances of the actors in service of the story.

top gun: maverick – marketing recap

How Paramount has sold an unexpected but long-awaited sequel

Top Gun: Maverick movie poster from Paramount Pictures
Top Gun: Maverick movie poster from Paramount Pictures

The original Top Gun was released 36 years ago, launching Tom Cruise into the realm of super-stardom and inspiring a generation to fantasize about taking F-14s as high as they can go, debate Meg Ryan versus Kelly McGillis (there’s no wrong answer) and seek out the best pair of aviator sunglasses around.

A sequel should have been an instant no-brainer, but we had to wait nearly four decades before the stars aligned, with Top Gun: Maverick hitting theaters this weekend.

Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, still a hotshot who’s spent years avoiding promotions so he can keep flying as a test pilot. When former rival Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), now an admiral, needs someone to train a group of pilots for a specialized mission he calls on Maverick to give them the edge they’ll need. One of those pilots happens to be Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s former radar officer and best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, who died in the first film.

Additional pilots are played by Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Danny Ramirez and others, with Jon Hamm playing Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson, who’s skeptical of Maverick’s abilities and presence on the base. Jennifer Connelly also joins the cast as Penny Benjamin, a character only referenced in the first film as the admiral’s daughter Maverick had a fling with.

With Joseph Kosinski directing, let’s take a look at how it’s been sold.

announcement and casting

Rumors and reports had circulated for a while but a Tweet from Cruise in May 2018 seemed to confirm that the movie was actually happening and might even be in production. That was followed shortly by news that Kilmer would return in his role.

Late 2018 saw Cruise post a video from the movie’s set featuring him talking about motion-smoothing on modern TVs and how it distorts the viewing experience. It wasn’t specifically about the movie, then, but because he was wearing a flight suit in the video it certainly helped remind people it was in production.

In a surprise move, Paramount included about two minutes of footage in its CineEurope presentation to exhibitors in 2018.

Part of the story was confirmed by the much-hyped search for an actor to play Goose’s son, a role eventually nabbed by Teller. Cruise also spoke about the movie early on while promoting other projects, including a stop on “Kimmel” during the Mission: Impossible – Fallout publicity cycle, also in 2018.

Teller spoke about the challenges of working with Cruise – namely keeping up with the older actor – while promoting “ Too Old To Die Young” in 2019.

the marketing campaign phase one: I’m going to need a beer to put these flames out.

The first poster (by marketing agency Concept Arts) debuted in July 2019. Surprisingly, it doesn’t feature Cruise’s face but instead shows the back of Maverick’s jacket, decorated in service patches, as he looks out of a hanger while a jet cuts through the sky in the background.

Familiar music plays as the first trailer (37.6m YouTube views), released in July at San Diego Comic-Con, begins. In addition to lots of footage of fighter jets performing incredible maneuvers, the focus is on how Maverick is still undeniably Maverick, unable to conform to the system to the extent he’s been passed over for promotion many times in the last 30 years. This despite the medals and accomplishments he’s racked up in that time. There are shots that invoke scenes from the original, including Maverick racing a jet on his bike and a scene of sweaty, shirtless men playing football, all meant to amp up the nostalgia factor in the audience.

One notable change from the first movie is the footage shot via cockpit cam showing Cruise behind the stick of the fighter. That’s a continuation of the approach taken for other movies with the star – especially recent Mission: Impossible entries – where the focus has been on how Cruise really does many of his own stunts and learns new skills so he can do more of what his character would. We’re meant to believe, then, that the actor was really flying the jet, part of the brand he’s built up, one that sells the audience on a more visceral experience instead of a collection of special effects that can overload the senses.

That SDCC presence included the first ever appearance there by Cruise, who showed up on a panel with some of his castmates to talk about the film. While he was in San Diego, Cruise stopped by “Conan” to talk more about returning to the movie after 30+ years.

A few months later, in December of that year, the next poster was released showing Maverick leaning against his car and looking on as two F-18s fly by overhead.

The first full trailer (21.2m YouTube views) came out at the same time, immediately establishing Maverick as being back at the Top Gun training base, now as an instructor to younger pilots. While there’s plenty of focus on the next generation – including two pilots that may have a connection to characters from the first movie – we also see Maverick still has the same cocky attitude as well as a few tricks left to show the kids. Fast planes, beach football and more are all on display here, helping to establish familiarity with the audience while still selling a sequel.

December’s full trailer was accompanied by the release of Snapchat’s first-ever reaction filter, allowing users to see a split screen with the trailer on top and their own face inserted into the cockpit on the bottom. Giphy stickers also came out around then with key moments from the trailer available to add to your own messages/posts.

A featurette released just after the full trailer hit exactly the expected notes, focusing not only on the real flying done for the film but how much Cruise himself did. Additionally, it’s mentioned how he inspired and pushed the younger members of the cast to do their own flying in order to keep up, all of which was captured through state of the art cameras and other equipment.

The commercial that aired during the 2020 Super Bowl emphasizes both the incredible visuals of high-speed flying and the drama that will come from Maverick having to face the actions of his past and deal with the legacy he’s leaving behind.

A handful of photos came out in late January along with more details on the relationships between the characters.

When everyone went into quarantine in March, video meetings became popular among those working from home. Paramount released backgrounds that could be uploaded to Zoom profiles to add some Top Gun flair to those meetings.

the marketing campaign phase two: where’d *who* go?

It was among the last of the major summer releases to do so, but eventually the movie’s original June 2020 release date was pushed to December because of the pandemic-related theater closings. In July Paramount pushed it even further out to July, 2021 and then to November, the latter a move reportedly driven by Cruise’s desire to engage in a worldwide press and publicity tour, betting that Covid-related lockdowns would be lifted later in the year and allow for that.

The early 2020 release of an autobiography from Val Kilmer allowed him a number of opportunities to reminisce on the making of the original Top Gun as well as how he lobbied hard for a role in this film.

Barbaro was profiled in a piece that seemed to be half about the movie and half about the high-end watches she was now partial to. A bit later Kosinski was interviewed about working with Cruise again and bringing the new actors into the world of Top Gun.

Hasbro previewed a crossover with their Transformers toy series in July, 2020.

An interview with Hamm had him talking about working with Cruise, his first experiences with the original Top Gun and more. Similar ground, including how he was spending pandemic quarantine and the frustration of the movie’s repeated delays, was covered in an interview with Teller.

the marketing campaign phase three: he was inverted

Things then got very quiet for over a year, with only sporadic activity on the social media front – mostly amplifying people’s posts for Halloween, Top Gun Day and other events – until late 2021.

An interview with producer Jerry Bruckheimer from September of that year had him talking about Cruise’ insistence on having Kilmer be part of the sequel. There was also a group profile of many of the young actors, including Powell, Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Lewis Pullman and Danny Ramirez, who are jumping in the pilot’s seat for the sequel.

Before things could get on track for the November 2021 release date, Paramount pushed it even further back to May 2022.

In August 2021 Paramount gave CinemaCon attendees a first look at 13 minutes of footage from this and other upcoming movies. This marked three years since footage was shown to CineEurope.

Out of relatively nowhere a couple cross-promotional items popped up beginning in late 2021.

Hasbro was back again, this time revealing a look at a new Barbie figure inspired by Barbaro’s “Trace”.

The year ended with Ellis appearing on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie, including the repeated delays in release.

After the Ohio State University Marching Band performed a tribute to the first movie in November, Cruise seized the opportunity and invited all its members to a special screening of the sequel.

the marketing campaign phase four: talk to me, goose

Football was also the theme of 2022’s first marketing efforts, with Cruise appearing in a spot that mixed promotions for the AFC championship game with footage from this movie.

The actor then appeared on “Today” to promote the film in a more straightforward manner.

A co-branded Porsche commercial was released in February that contained footage from the movie

In an interview about his new album, Johnny Marr revealed he had recorded a new version of Hans Zimmer’s iconic theme for the sequel.

Ellis hosted the inaugural Anthem Awards at the end of February.

Reports emerged in mid-March that Paramount planned to screen the movie at the Cannes Film Festival, with those reports later confirmed with the addition that it would include a retrospective/celebration of Cruise’s entire career.

The next trailer (24.6m YouTube views) came out later that month. Some young hot shot pilots are assembling as we see Maverick has been called back to action by Iceman, now an admiral, over the objections of those in charge. What starts as teaching quickly turns into combat as we also see Rooster confront Maverick over the death of his father, some beach football and lots more in an exciting spot that focuses on the in-cockpit POV the audience will get for many of the flight sequences.

The poster that accompanied the trailer shows Maverick walking away from his fighter.

That was followed by a 30-second commercial version of the trailer that boiled the footage down to the essential thrill-inducing elements.

Elaborate theater standees in the shape of a fighter pilot helmet but with a massive screen playing the trailer were placed around the country at the beginning of April to help audiences arriving for other movies get a taste of this one.

Kosinski shared how about 800 hours of footage was shot in total, a massive amount resulting from so much time being needed to teach the actors how to use their equipment and other technical details.

The Dolby Cinemas-exclusive poster released in mid-April shows Maverick racing his motorcycle alongside an F-18, a scene from the new movie that recreates one from the first film. The ScreenX poster uses the cockpit cameras that were a focus of the campaign to show a phalanx of jets trailing Maverick’s fighter. D-Box’s one-sheet has Maverick looking pensive on an aircraft carrier while a pair of fighters fly by. Maverick is inverted on the 4DX poster and is looking out as he flies by the carrier on the IMAX one-sheet.

That process of teaching the actors about in-flight cinematography, the makeshift flight school Cruise put everyone through and more were covered in a featurette released in mid-April. A piece detailing the military training process the actors took part in came around the same time and added to the idea that this wasn’t just a role for anyone but a fully immersive experience.

At CinemaCon in late April 2022 exhibitors were offered an extended look at the film, with critics in attendance immediately giving it massive praise as an emotional visceral old-school blockbuster. A panel with Kosinski, Bruckheimer and others featured them all talking about the multiple release delays, why this was the right time for a sequel and more.

As that was going on Lady Gaga also teased an original song she wrote for the movie.

While he was technically promoting his Paramount+ series “The Offer,” Teller also talked about this movie when he appeared on “Kimmel ” around that time.

In an interview, McQuarrie shared how he approached writing the story, including a conscious effort to not simply ape or recreate iconic moments from the original but instead create something that would stand on its own.

Cruise joined the rest of the cast and crew at the red carpet premiere in early March. Held on an aircraft carrier in San Diego, it included Cruise arriving via helicopter, comments from him and others about how it came about and how they worked in Kilmer’s return.

After that San Diego event the cast and crew engaged on a publicity tour hitting stops in Mexico, Japan and the U.K. in addition to Cannes.

The full video for “Hold My Hand” from Gaga came out a few days later, mixing shots of her performing the song with footage – some of which is new here – from the movie. With the windswept nature of the video, the shifting back and forth from black-and-white to color and more it gives off major 80s vibes, making it a perfect fit here.

Another short featurette was devoted to explaining the rationale behind aviator callsigns.

Powell talked about the process of shooting the movie when he appeared on “Kimmel.”

Select AMC Theaters and Cineplex locations held screenings of the first Top Gun that included an extended preview of the sequel in early May.

XBox offered an exclusive movie-themed version of the popular Flight Simulator video game.

Kosinski explained the controversial decision to not invite either Meg Ryan or Kelly McGillis back for the sequel, saying he wasn’t interested in looking backward. Not sure that is satisfactory, but it’s a choice.

AMC Theaters shared a few exclusive cast and crew interviews.

What it was like to join the sequel and what she had to learn for the role was covered in an interview with Connelly.

OneRepublic leaned into the beach football sequence for their video for “I Ain’t Worried” from the movie’s soundtrack.

The Cannes Film Festival event was indeed a spectacle, with fighter jets doing a flyover before an enthusiastic response from the audience to the screening of the film. While in France Cruise was interviewed about his insistence the movie play in theaters and not on streaming, the surreal nature of watching a retrospective of his career and more. Connelly also spoke about working with Cruise. How he and the other filmmakers wanted to do something original was covered in an interview with Kosinski.

Short videos like this one for Rooster introduced each of the major characters with the actor playing them offering some background information.

An assemblage of elite athletes appear in a TV spot that focused on how those who refuse to settle for anything less than excellence are the true mavericks in the world.

You could get a free ticket to the movie if you spent $25 at Applebee’s.

Another featurette focuses on the respect the actors gained for the prowess and intensity of the actual naval aviators they worked with during filming as well as the fact that everything seen on screen is something the actors are actually doing. Similar ground, along with more about this being a big-screen experience was covered in a Dolby-exclusive featurette.

Cinemark also had an exclusive making-of featurette.

Cruise filmed a Fandango-exclusive greeting to audiences, welcoming them back for the summer movie season.

Connelly appeared on “The Late Show” and “GMA” to promote the film while Cruise stopped by “The Late Late Show” and other programs.

overall

First off, an admission: I never thought this movie would happen. It seemed like one of those that was just not fated to move from pipe dream to reality. No one seemed very interested in doing it and the more time passed the less likely it seemed a viable story could be developed.

I’m happy to be proven wrong. Based on the campaign and with the addition of the positive reviews that have given the movie a staggering 97% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes this looks incredible, a worthy addition to the Top Gun mythos.

On both of those fronts, you have to credit Cruise, who seems to have willed the movie into existence (and into theaters) by sheer force of will alone. Ricky Bobby may be right and Tom Cruise may actually have some form of magic, as he not only single-handedly made the film happen but did so while teaching other actors how to fly jets and more.

Tracking estimates of a $100 million four-day opening weekend may prove conservative based on the word of mouth around the movie, all of which has been supported by a slick, well-messaged marketing push that reinforces Cruise’s status ais one of the biggest stars around while also reminding us how emotional the first movie, which wasn’t really an action picture, really was.

the lost city – marketing recap

How Paramount has sold an adventure-based romantic comedy

The Lost City movie poster
The Lost City movie poster

The Lost City, previously titled The Lost City of D, has a familiar premise for those of us who celebrate Kathleen Turner’s entire body of work, especially from her heyday in the 1980s.

Sandra Bullock plays Loretta Sage, a romance novelist on tour promoting her latest book. Joining her is Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), the handsome but thick model for Sage’s character Dash McMahon. When Sage is kidnapped by a billionaire (played by Daniel Radcliffe) who believes the lost city she wrote about is real and wants her to lead him to it, Caprison heads off to try and rescue her but isn’t exactly qualified to do so.

Directed by Adam and Aaron Nee, the movie also stars Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison and others. Let’s take a look at the film’s marketing efforts.

announcements and casting

The movie was announced in October 2020 with Bullock in the lead and the Nees directing. Tatum was cast in December of that year, with others like Radcliffe joining in the first few months of 2021.

In mid-February 2021 Paramount gave the movie an April 2022 release date, with that date moved up a few weeks to late March a bit later.

the marketing campaign

A first look still at Bullock and Tatum seemingly in a candid moment of having fun on set was released in December of last year. While it didn’t offer much in the way of story or plot it did show off the basic look and feel of the film.

A couple of *actual* production photos came the next day via EW along with comments from Bullock and Tatum about the preternaturally easy chemistry the two had on-set along with the natural comparisons to Romancing The Stone.

As the first trailer (19m YouTube views), also released in mid-December, opens, we immediate see Sage is a writer trying to figure out a plot point in the book she’s working on. Her promotional tour with Dash is going poorly because it’s not clear if he knows he’s not actually the character he serves as the cover model for. That’s part of the reason he goes after her when she’s kidnapped by Fairfax, leading to all sorts of misadventures as Sage realizes she may be onto something after all.

You can see just how those misadventures are impacting the two main characters on the first poster, which has them walking dejectedly through the jungle with ancient temples, ruined cars and more in the background.

Another version of the trailer was also created that had a fun little intro from Tatum, Bullock and Radcliffe. Paramount then shared some outtakes from the shooting of that intro to help sell the chemistry between the two leads.

Aside from a few short promotional videos that pulled out key moments from the trailer, things were relatively quiet until February, when Paramount announced the movie’s world premiere would happen at SXSW in March. An extended TV spot came out around the same time that hits the same basic beats as the trailer.

That was followed by a commercial that aired during this year’s Super Bowl.

Tatum received a feature profile in early February that focused on how, along with his recent directorial debut Dog, this movie marks his return to acting after taking a bit of time off.

A second one-sheet expands the cast from the first one to include more of the secondary characters and show off some of the key moments that have been highlighted in the various videos to date. Another poster has Sage and Caprison in an awkward moment from their joint press tour. Character posters then gave some of the others in the cast the spotlight, all of them placed in the jungle or other exotic setting.

At the beginning of March Fandango announced early screenings a week before general release through a video with the three leads.

The first featurette covered, unsurprisingly, the “leeches” scene that’s featured prominently in the campaign, including Bullock and Tatum talking about how they worked to overcome any awkwardness from him being completely naked for that scene. The second featurette is all about the sparkly purple jumpsuit Bullock’s character wears throughout the movie.

Most of the cast and crew, sans Tatum, appeared in Austin for the SXSW premiere.

While there they talked about making the movie during the pandemic, how much fun they all had while filming, how Bullock is considering taking a break of her own to raise her kids and more.

What it was like to see Tatum in costume as Dash – the fictional character his character is the model for – and how he worked with the massive hair he sports in those sequences was the subject of the next featurette.

An AR tool for Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook let people put themselves on the cover of a romance novel.

Harrison, Randolph, Radcliffe and Bullock both appeared on the late night talk show circuit to promote the film, including Bullock bringing a blooper reel to “The Late Show.” Radcliffe also got into the promotional groove on “Today” and “The View” while Bullock was interviewed on “GMA.”

Bullock and Tatum sang each other’s praises in the next featurette that also focused on the locations they filmed at as well as the scope and humor of the story. Another had them talking about one particular scene they say was done in a single take.

The cast appeared in exclusive videos for Regal Cinemas and AMC Theaters.

Most everyone once again turned out for the red carpet premiere in Hollywood earlier this week. While there Bullock was interviewed about how this differs from the usual kinds of rom-coms she’s done or is offered. The Nee brothers spoke about what attracted them to this movie and how working on it has helped them get ready for shooting He-Man for Netflix.

overall

With a solid 78% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and a projected $20m opening weekend, you can make the case that the campaign worked pretty well at getting people’s interest. But, as the Variety story points out, this is the kind of movie that hasn’t resonated all that well in the last several years for various reasons, including the audience’s seeming preference for recognizable IP and how theaters are programming their screens.

Perhaps that’s why the campaign makes no attempt to treat the cameo by Brad Pitt a secret or something surprising to be revealed only after the fact. It’s using all the tools at its disposal to bring people in, eschewing the “don’t spoil anything!” tactics that have become standard in marketing campaigns in recent years.

As someone who grew up with the kind of ludicrous genre-mixing adventure movies being referenced here, I’m intrigued by the campaign, but the proof will be in how close to that $20m box office debut this film gets.

scream – marketing recap

How Paramount is selling the return of a franchise that never meta trope it couldn’t disembowel.

Scream movie poster
Scream movie poster

It’s been 11 years since the Scream franchise last hit the big screen and 25 years since the first movie upended expectations and genre cliches. Now it’s back with Scream, though it’s colloquially been referred to as Scream 5 or Scream 2.0. Whatever the case, the movie is a continuation of the series, not a reboot or remake. Here’s the official synopsis:

Twenty-five years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past.

Original stars Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette are back as their characters return to Woodsboro to help newcomers played by Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega and others survive the new threat they face. And once again we’re promised lots of self-referential humor as the screenplay – by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick – skewers what’s come before and more.

announcement and casting

The movie was announced in March 2020, not too long after the filmmaking team had scored a notable win with Ready Or Not. Paramount announced in June, 2020 it would be distributing the film, with casting announcements – mostly involving the return of those involved with the first series – coming out in the following months.

Williamson’s end-of-production announcement also served as confirmation the film’s title was simply Scream.

Late in 2020, Campbell was interviewed about what it took to lure her back to the series, especially given Craven wasn’t involved.

the marketing campaign

Things started in September of last year with a promotional tie-in campaign from Airbnb that let people book the house from the movie, with Arquette appearing in character in the ads to convey that it’s actually his Sheriff Dewey renting the house out.

The first poster, released in early October, just shows a shadowy Ghostface holding a knife to convey the simple message the the series is returning and will look roughly like what audiences have seen before.

Just before the first trailer was released a number of first-look stills came out showing new characters as well as the return of a few from the original movies.

That first trailer (18.2m YouTube views) opens in a very familiar way, with Tara (Ortega) getting a series of mysterious texts followed by a phone call before opening the door only to find Ghostface there. That’s just one in a new series of attacks that leads Dewey to call Sidney and bring her back home. Once again whoever the killer is seems to have a connection to the group of teens they’ve targeted, but this time the kids have the help of experienced adults like Dewey, Sidney and Gale to help guide them and maybe help some of them survive.

Call of Duty promoted the film by adding Ghostface to the game as part of a general “The Haunting” campaign run at the end of October.

TikTok users could make their voice sound like Ghostface’s via a text-to-speech audio filter added to the app.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett were interviewed about taking their turn with the franchise with the help of original screenwriters Kevin Williamson and Ehren Kruger, including how their love of the first four movies made them want to do right by the late Wes Craven, who directed all four of those earlier entries. They covered similar ground when the pair appeared on “CBS Sunday Morning” to talk about this movie specifically and scary movies in general.

An exclusive featurette was shared with Buzzfeed that has Cox, Williamson, Barrera and others talking about how the returning characters have evolved over the years, how the new characters come to get involved in the story and how scary and surprising this new installment is.

Lots of profiles started to emerge around this time of costars Ortega, Jasmin Savoy-Brown and others that introduced their characters, focused on how they are fans of the original films and other related topics.

A motion poster was released in late November that has Ghostface in the background while his knife cycles through the faces of the main characters, with copy reminding the audience that “It’s always someone you know,” hinting that one of those seen is the person behind the mask.

Arquette appeared on “Late Night” and made a few other talk show stops to talk about returning to the series.

Moving into December, there were three character posters that showed Dewey, Sidney and Gale all suspiciously and ominously holding the Ghostface mask. Another series, this time featuring the new characters, was released via Collider around the same time as well as an exclusive featurette that leaned into the “it could be anyone” theme of the campaign to date.

Another featurette has the cast and crew discussing why Ghostface remains such a haunting and effective bad guy.

The first TV spot also came out in early December, offering a cutdown version of the first trailer that focuses on Sidney’s return amid a new wave of killings targeting the town’s younger residents.

Picking up on a trend from the first half of 2020, Paramount released a handful of Zoom background images featuring the outside of the original house and some of the rooms in that house.

In mid-December the studio kicked off the #12ScreamsForTheHolidays campaign, promising a new treat for fans each day leading up to Christmas Day. That began with the release of the final poster (via IGN) showing the entire cast arrayed above the town of Woodsboro as Ghostface looms in the background. “The killer is on this poster” the poster promises.

That campaign and theme was continued in a series of short character-centric videos, with each one mysteriously donning the killer’s mask.

A Dolby-exclusive poster featuring Ghostface’s mouth as a highway’s entrance to a cave or mountain pass was also part of the campaign, as was a Fandango-exclusive featurette timed to when tickets went on sale, an NFT collection, a 4DX-exclusive one-sheet and more.

Among all that was a featurette with Williamson, the directors and the original cast praising the genius of Craven and how integral he was to the first movies as well as how he inspired them to make this new one as good as they could.

The filmmakers participated in a Facebook Group live audio chat toward the end of December where they discussed making the movie and teased fans with what they could expect. Also on the Facebook front was an AR lens for FB, Instagram and Snapchat that added Ghostface to the user’s environment.

Around this time there were also a number of retrospective pieces with actors like Matthew Lilard, Jamie Kennedy and others as they reminisced about their participation in the original movie and discussed why it remains such a milestone piece. A profile of Arquette also had him discussing his up and down career and how he’s matured over the years, working past some of the struggles he’s endured.

The holiday campaign culminated with a new TV spot with a musical stabbing beat.

More TV ads encouraged fans to prepare for what lay ahead, called out the legacy of the franchise and characters and more.

Urban Outfitters ran a sweepstakes for the retailer’s loyalty club members that awarded a hometown screening for the winner and a group of friends.

Another feature piece had Arquette, Cox and Campbell all discussing their continued relationship with the movies and what it was like to return for this new installment.

Paramount had created a movie-branded Spotify playlist of holiday music in late 2021 and continued advertising on that streaming platform, including sponsoring a personalized list of the “songs you played to death.

Campbell and Arquette made a handful of other media appearances on late night and early morning talk shows and elsewhere. That included on “The Drew Barrymore Show”, with Barrymore reenacting her famous opening scene in the promotion of that show. More of the cast, especially the younger new additions, also stopped by that show later on.

While planned press screenings did happen in early January – including cast photo shoots and interviews – a planned red carpet event in Los Angeles was canceled in the midst of the ongoing Covid surge sweeping across the country.

Why the three original cast members were intrigued enough to return was covered in a new featurette.

A VR SurviveScreamHouse.com site was setup that let you drag your cursor around the house and have a text conversation with Sidney (with preloaded responses to send her) to see how long you can survive before Ghostface gets you. Costar Dylan Minnette hosted an episode of “MTV Cribs” that explored the same house.

The final trailer (2.6m YouTube views) came out just days before the movie’s release. It opens with Dewey explaining the rules for survival to the kids and continues to show Sidney determined to finish all the killing once and for all.

Regal Cinemas had an exclusive video interview with the main cast.

A partnership with Reddit had the studio asking people there to make their predictions as to who would live, who would die and who the real killer might be.

Some of the cast participated in a livestream of themselves and others playing the video game Among Us, which also added movie-themed character “cosmetics.”

overall

Projections have the movie scoring around $30m at this weekend’s box office, which might be enough to turn around the narrative that Spider-Man and similar super hero franchises are the only thing that audiences will come out to see. The positive reviews, which have earned the movie a 75% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, should help with that.

As for the campaign itself, it hits a few themes consistently enough that they become ingrained in the public perception of the movie leading into opening weekend:

  • The house is pivotal: There’s so much focus on the house, from the Airbnb promotional campaign to the “MTV Cribs” tie-in and more, it’s clear the studio wants to use that house as a way to tie current audiences to what’s come before.
  • The killer is in plain sight: Messages to that effect are prevalent throughout the marketing, from posters to trailers and more. It’s a nice way to clue the audience in from the outset and make the journey about which one it is, not just the more general “who could it be?” That also plays nicely with the overall self-aware nature of these movies.
  • David Arquette is ready for his comeback: That message is repeated frequently, and I’m all for it.
  • The technology has changed but the threat hasn’t: Seriously, just don’t buy any smart home appliance or other tool.

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snake eyes: g.i. joe origins – marketing recap

How Paramount has sold an action prequel/reboot of the G.I. Joe franchise

snake eyes theatrical poster

The first two live-action G.I. Joe feature films, released in 2009 and 2013, were not great movies. But they performed well enough – and the innate studio desire for franchises with built-in fanbases great enough – for Paramount Pictures to keep things going with this week’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins.

With a title that unfortunately evokes memories of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the movie stars Henry Golding as a loner going by the moniker Snake Eyes who already has substantial fighting skills but lacks direction. When he saves the life of Thomas “Tommy” Arashikage (Andrew Koji) he’s invited to join Clan Arashikage, a secretive group of ninjas with their own agenda. Though they become as close as brothers, the two have falling out. At the same time they’re drawn into the nascent battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra, personified by Scarlett (Samara Weaving) and Baroness (Úrsula Corberó) respectively.

Originally scheduled for March 2020 but pushed multiple times due to the coronavirus pandemic, the movie arrives following a campaign that has leaned into the land-standing popularity of the title character and the affection fans still have for the man who defined much of that character’s backstory and persona.

The Posters

The first poster (by marketing agency BLT Communications), also released online as a motion poster, came out in mid-May and shows Snake Eyes, sans mask, in front of a bright neon version of the Clan Arashikage symbol.

Two posters (by marketing agency Works Adv) came out in early June, both still using the Clan Arashikage symbol. One shows a sword in front of that symbol, the other a pair of dice that have come up snake eyes

Character motion posters (by BLT) for Snake Eyes, Baroness, Scarlett, Hard Master, Blind Master, Storm Shadow, Akiko and Kenta. were released exclusively to IGN in June

Another poster was released in June, this one finally showing a masked Snake Eyes looking very serious against a bright Japanese downtown.

The whole cast of characters – including both masked and unmasked Snake Eyes – is seen on the theatrical poster released in early July in a design that’s similar to most other ensemble franchises, with everyone arrayed around the main character who looms over them in the background.

An IMAX exclusive poster has Snake Eyes staring at the camera with the company logo reflected in his mask’s visor. Dolby’s poster again puts Snake against the backdrop of a city street, that view coming through a window shaped like the company’s logo.

One final poster, released just last week, illustrates the dual nature of the man who is Snake Eyes, his masked and unmasked face bifurcated by his sword.

The Trailers

The first teaser trailer (17 million views on YouTube), which debuted during the “MTV Movie & TV Awards” in May, very much positions the movie as an origin story. It focuses on how The Man Who Would Be Snake Eyes is seeking purpose in his life and so joins a ninja clan devoted to maintaining peace and justice in the world. There are glimpses of his training as well as supporting characters like Storm Shadow, Scarlett and The Baroness, but the short running time means this is a teaser first and foremost, not offering many details.

Another trailer (3.7 million views on YouTube) came out in mid-June, starting off by establishing how Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were once friends. Their falling out isn’t shown, but we do see how Snake becomes involved with the Joes and their fight against Cobra.

One last trailer (2.5 million views on YouTube) came out just days ago. It hits many of the same notes but focuses a bit more on Snake Eyes attempting to outrun his past. Also, it ends with Tommy fully embracing his new persona as Storm Shadow, which is a nice touch.

Online and Social

Not much on the official website, which is mainly about selling tickets to local theater showings, just a basic synopsis and a few videos.

Advertising, Publicity and Promotions

A brief video in January 2020 marked the beginning of production in Japan, showing the cast and key members of the crew assembled to start getting things going.

Back in February of last year Golding offered a first look at the title character via his personal Instagram.

Unsurprisingly, in August of last year Paramount delayed the film’s release a full year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Around that time Golding made an appearance during the virtual Hasbro Pulse Con event, talking about the movie.

Golding talked briefly about the movie at the end of 2020 while promoting other projects, including showing off some footage of him training on “The Tonight Show” in November.

At CCXP in December Golding, Corbero, Weaving and others all made virtual appearances to get fans excited for the movie. Also joining them was G.I. Joe legend Larry Hama, who gave his endorsement to the movie and its cast for their portrayal of characters he was integral in laying the foundation of nearly 40 years ago.

Because of the delay in release Golding made his second appearance at Hasbro Pulse Con this past February, talking more about what fans could expect and showing off more of the toys and other products coming to store shelves.

Official first look stills came via EW in May, showing off maskless pics of Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Akiko and others along with comments on the characters and how the story developed and evolved over time from Golding and others, including producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

The trailer’s debut during the “MTV Movie & TV Awards” in May was teased by Golding in advance and introduced by him during the show.

A featurette released at the same time as the first trailer has Golding and others praising Hama’s work in creating the characters, teasing what the story will cover and showing a bit of behind-the-scenes footage in addition to clips from the movie.

Golding presented at the Billboard Music Awards in May.

Short videos like this were released occasionally, not adding much but calling out different aspects of the movie. Other promotional spots and commercials came out regularly in the last month or so, each hitting on various story or character points.

An interview with di Bonaventura had him talking about various parts of the film, from the questions that came about casting Golding to turning one of the great “mystery” characters of pop culture into an action hero and more.

Fandango MovieClips had an exclusive featurette that focused on the stunts and choreography that went into the movie and its ninja-tastic action.

There was a big promotional presence for the movie at ComplexLand in June, including a recreation of Snake Eyes home neighborhood. Visitors there could also get a free poster designed by Japanese-American artist Adam Fujita and register to win other exclusive merchandise.

Another featurette had Golding, Hama and Koji talking about the backstory of the friendship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.

The “Robot Chicken” team created a video that has Golding voicing Snake Eyes in a twisted version of the PSAs that were included in the classic cartoon series, though this includes the rest of the G.I. Joe team feeling pretty hurt that they were left out of the movie.

Snake Eyes had been added to Fortnite a while ago and recently made an appearance in the Batman: Fortnite comic series from DC. A video of Golding playing the game as Snake Eyes was released in July.

Online ads like this started running in the last few weeks, driving traffic to the official site where people could get ticket-buying information.

snake eyes online ad

An exclusive apparel line of movie-inspired products was released by Steve Akoi’s Dim Mak Collection earlier in July.

Just days before release there was a virtual cast panel as part of Comic-Con @ Home. This is one of the *very* few movies to make an appearance at SDCC, with studios apparently feeling the value wasn’t there this year.

Golding also appeared on “Kimmel” to talk about shooting the movie and more.

Overall

There are some good elements to the campaign, particularly the slick visuals seen on the posters. And Golding deserves a lot of credit for taking on a lot of heavy-lifting, using his personal social media in combination with a number of awards show and other appearances to sell the movie to his fans.

The marketing deserves special credit, though, for bringing the legendary Larry Hama so deeply into the effort. Having him as part of so many featurettes and interviews goes a long way toward making the movie attractive to those who may be wary, either because they’re concerned a Snake Eyes movie won’t be as good as they want it to be or because they still feel slightly burnt by the previous G.I. Joe franchise entries.

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A Quiet Place Part II – Marketing Recap

How Paramount is selling the aurally-fixated sequel.

We should have had this conversation a year ago.

I’m a walking’ down the street and I’m talkin’…

That’s when A Quiet Place Part II, the follow-up to 2018’s surprise hit starring Emily Blunt, John Krasinski and Millicent Simmonds, was originally scheduled for release. But thanks to delays resulting from coronavirus-related theater closures and an instance from all parties that this not debut on streaming or PVOD, it finally arrives on screens this week.

The story picks up right where the first left off, with Evelyn Abbott (Blunt) trying to keep her daughter Regan (Simmonds) and son Marcus (Noah Jupe) as well as her newborn baby safe and quiet in a world where aliens hunt based on the smallest sound someone might make. They are on the move after the destruction of their home and their quest brings them into contact with the disillusioned and paranoid Emmett (Cillian Murphy) and others who have become cynical and distrustful following the collapse of society.

Initial reactions are very positive, praising the tension and suspense of the story as well as how the world is expanded, with Rotten Tomatoes currently ranking the movie as 90% Fresh.

Additionally, Fandango has touted how ticket sales were, a week or so out from release, pacing ahead of where they were a year ago the first time we went through this. That’s made this movie a big part of the “people are ready to get back to theaters” narrative currently circulating through the industry and media, a narrative that’s been a big part of the movie’s marketing.

First Take: The 2019/2020 Campaign

The original release date for the film was March 20th, 2020, a date that wound up being roughly a week after many U.S. schools and businesses, including movie theaters, shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic that was at that point merely picking up speed. But it’s a date that was the focal point of the first half of the film’s campaign.

That was evident on the first poster (by marketing agency BLT Communications), released in December 2019. A sense of familiarity in the audience is established by using a photo of Evelyn, Regan and Marcus walking along one of the sandy paths laid down in the forest to aid in silent movement. The family are walking toward a more urban setting of power lines and highway overpasses, communicating how the story expands a bit.

A short :30 teaser was released online at the same time, though it was shown in theaters several days before that, the first indication of the theater-centric nature of the campaign.

A first look photo came out shortly after that teaser accompanied by comments from Blunt and others.

On New Year’s Day 2020 the first full trailer (30.2 million views on YouTube) came out, more clearly explaining the movie’s story. It starts with a flashback to the day the aliens invaded and the chaos they caused. We then catch up with the Abbotts immediately following the events of the first movie as they continue to move around silently to avoid the sound-hunting predators. When the family encounters another group of survivors they find their apparent saviors aren’t exactly the nicest, most understanding people but instead might be just as dangerous as the creatures who have taken over the planet.

Paid promotions began with a Super Bowl spot at the end of January that emphasizes the chase elements of the story, showing the family on the run as it seeks safety and continues, despite the insistence of others, that there are good people in the world worth saving.

A featurette was released at the same time as that commercial that had the stars and filmmakers talking about returning to the story and where their characters are as the sequel begins.

Blunt and Krasinski partnered with Omaze on a charitable campaign giving the selected winner the chance to go on a double date with the couple.

An “exclusive look” released in late February plays like an extended TV spot, showing the basic outline of the story as the remaining Abbotts seek safety as they keep moving.

In February Paramount announced a double feature of the first movie and an early screening of this sequel that was scheduled for March 18th, a couple days before general release.

Simmonds was interviewed about being a hearing-impaired actor in Hollywood and her role in these movies. Blunt and Krasinski were interviewed about their initial reluctance to extend the story with a sequel and how they changed their minds, finding ways to keep the characters going. In an interview of her own, Blunt talked about this role as well as how she’s carved out a career for herself over time.

The Abbots triggering a trap set by other survivors, a key moment of tension from the trailers, was shown off in the first clip released at the end of February. Another clip from March takes place during the first wave of the alien invasion, as the Abbots are just trying to survive the chaos around them.

TV commercials like this that continued emphasizing the movie’s drama as well as the action ran steadily beginning in mid-February and through the next few weeks.

A second poster released late in February shows the four surviving members of the Abbott family huddled in a storm sewer or other underground location, trying to remain silent to avoid the hunters.

At that point Paramount debuted a movie-themed survival room experience in New York City and Los Angeles where fans could come live in the movie’s world of being hunted for a short while.

A Dolby Cinemas poster released at the end of February enigmatically shows what seems to be Evelyn walking across a bridge away from a cross left in the middle of the path as a memorial. It’s odd in that the kids aren’t seen, so you’re left to wonder why Evelyn is on her own.

IMAX’s poster, though, shows all four of them as they race across a field in front of an abandoned factory.

The dangerous loner played by Cillian Murphy, one the Abbots encounter on their journey, is the subject of a featurette released in early March as the filmmakers and cast explain who he is and what he represents.

Similar subject matter was covered by Krasinski at the movie’s premiere, one of the last major events held before the Covid-related shutdown, with Blunt adding how much she loves the character she plays.

Both Blunt and Krasinski made the rounds of various talk shows, appearing on “The Late Show,” “Kimmel” and elsewhere. Simmonds talked about the movie on “GMA.” Djimon Hounsou also appeared on “Live with Ryan and Kelly” and other shows to talk about his costarring role.

And a Pause

On March 12, 2020, just a week before the original release date, Krasinski and Paramount announced the movie was being pulled from the release schedule because theaters across the country were shutting down as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. That brought the marketing to a standstill, though there would continue to be semi-regular updates from various parties.

While the release was on hold Paramount became one of many studios and other companies releasing movie-themed virtual backgrounds for Zoom meetings, which were quickly becoming the new normal in the white collar business world.

A few weeks later a new September release date was announced, a date that reflected optimism — felt by many — that the pandemic would wane and fizzle out in the summer heat.

Other than a few comments from the cast and studio in the intervening months, things remained quiet until February of this year. There weren’t any updates to the movie’s official website or its social media profiles. That’s when the publicity around the rebranding of the CBS All Access streaming platform as Paramount+ included the news that this movie, among others, would be available on that service a scant 45 days after their theatrical debut.

The Paramount+ news in February came with the announcement this movie and others would come to the streaming service just 45 days after theatrical release. In May that announcement resulted in reports Krasinski and Blunt were seeking financial compensation from Paramount for the shortened theatrical window, which had what they claimed would be a negative effect on their back-end deals.

Let’s Try This Again: The 2021 Campaign

In early March of this year Krasinski announced a new Memorial Day Weekend release date that took into account the reopening of theaters across the country as well as the fact that a Covid vaccine had finally been introduced and more and more people were getting the jab.

A final trailer (10.6 million views on YouTube) — teased ahead of time, of course — came out in early May. With a few brief flashbacks, it shows how Evelyn and her kids are trying to keep surviving in the world as the sound-tracking aliens continue their reign of terror. There are lots of thrills and jumps and, at the end, a note about how this is the perfect movie to experience in theaters.

After the final trailer came out a short featurette/TV spot was released with Krasinski and Blunt talking about the expanded scope of the story as well as how excited they are that people will be able to experience it in theaters.

Another batch of TV spots came in mid-May that made a strong case for the movie as one audiences wouldn’t want to miss.

As release neared there were more interviews with Krasinski about the long wait he and the others have endured for release to finally happen and how there are already some ideas floating around for a potential third installment. Joint interviews with him and Blunt also covered similar ground as the press cycle for the first movie in how they almost said “No” to a sequel.

When Kraskinsk appeared on “The Late Show” he focused on how the movie was very specifically made to be experienced by people en masse in theaters. He also showed up on “Late Night” while Blunt talked about the movie on “Kimmel.” Murphy was also interviewed about joining the sequel and what his character’s story is.

The actor/director later surprised fans at a Cleveland screening of the movie and did likewise at a screening in New York City.

Dolby Cinemas released an exclusive Q&A with the cast. AMC Theaters also a brief chat with Krasinski. Cinemark hosted a live Q&A in select theaters with Krasinski being interviewed by superstar director/producer J.J. Abrams.

Overall

First off, you have to kind of hand it to Paramount for this Tweet that nicely references the “Friends” reunion special that landed on HBO Max earlier this week and which has been sucking up much of the oxygen in the entertainment press.

While it was present throughout the campaign, the second half that kicked off earlier this year prominently pointed out not only that the movie was “only in theaters” but more specifically and pointedly that it was “The movie experience theaters were made for.” That’s a none-too-subtle call to action for the audience that they’ll get something special out of seeing it on the big screen. And it’s a better message than what’s usually conveyed for format-specific options like IMAX or Dolby.

As for the campaign outside of that, it’s successful in largely recreating the mystique of the original film despite the audience now knowing what the threat the Abbott family faces is, the mystery of which formed the crux of the first movie’s marketing. It does that by showing that while the blind, sound-sensitive aliens are still present the real problem now are the other humans the Abbotts encounter.

The Hunt For Red October – Flashback Marketing

How a touchstone Cold War thriller was sold when it was translated to the big screen 30 years ago.

Last night The Elk Grove Theater in exurban Chicagoland hosted a screening of The Hunt For Red October to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.

Based on the first novel from Tom Clancy – one praised by no less of a literary authority than President Ronald Reagan when it was published in 1984 – the movie follows CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) as he works to track down a new Soviet missile submarine whose commander Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) he believes wants to defect. Along the way he has to navigate not only the tricky world of international politics but also convince wary naval officers of his conclusions to complete the mission.

While the book came out at the height of U.S./Soviet tensions, the movie was released just as the Cold War was moments away from effectively ending when the Soviet Union collapsed a year and a half later. In that way the story stood on the line between being timely and serving as a historical piece.

Baldwin was a quirky actor often cast in offbeat roles in 1990, which is one reason why he’s completely missing from the theatrical poster. Instead it’s only Connery’s face that’s shown, indicating he was the bigger star at the time and the more likely to serve as a box office draw. His face looms above a submarine’s conning tower rising from a bright red field. In fact it’s the color red that serves as the primary visual element on the poster, reinforcing the branding of the movie’s name.

There’s a good amount of blank space, either black or red, on the poster, which creates a stark visual impression. (Disclosure: I had this poster on my bedroom wall for years as it’s a marvel of design work.) That blank space is used by the designers to make sure the audience is aware of the basic plot outline as well as the connection between the movie and the source book. Wedged between “The hunt is on.” and “Join the hunt.” is copy positioning the movie as “electrifying.” Even more importantly, it shares that it comes from the director of Die Hard, which John McTiernan had helmed just two years prior.

So you have a poster that ditches the hammer and sickle iconography of the original book cover but uses color to make sure everyone understands the story is still focused on the Russians. And it offers several strong hooks to bring in an audience that probably read the book and which still loves to see Connery on screen.

Ramius is introduced in the trailer as “The most brilliant commander in the Soviet fleet” with the submarine of the title being shown off after that. Other characters, including Ryan, offer more information on both so that the audience understands the potential threat being presented. That threat is shown to be an uncertain one as the trailer progresses, with some indicating Ramius intends to fire his payload at the United States and others positing he’s gone rogue in an attempt to defect. The score adds to the tension as the movie is presented as a mystery/thriller instead of a straightforward action film.

Paramount made it clear here that there would be lots of heated conversations and people trying to convince other people of the rightness of their position as opposed to an action movie. Still, McTiernan’s name is prominently used here, and the Soviet hammer and sickle reappears in the title treatment despite it being missing from the poster.

How it’s positioned by both the trailer and poster is on-brand for the book, indicating it’s a political drama whose tense situations are heightened as a result of the confined quarters of meeting rooms and submarine interiors. It uses Connery as the major attraction, an understandable choice given Baldwin’s position as a charming character actor at the time.

Most of all it shows that movies like this were, at this point in time, positioned as adult dramas, not special effects extravaganzas aimed at tweens. Even in the marketing it’s clear the movie’s pacing and story are slow and methodical, emphasizing big and bold statements over flash and clutter.

When the movie proved to be a success at the box office by grossing over $200 million, it was natural that Paramount saw it as the launch point for a franchise adapting Clancy’s other best-selling novels. Baldwin declined to reprise his role, though, and so the next two movies – 1992’s Patriot Games and 1994’s Clear and Present Danger – saw Harrison Ford stepping into Ryan’s shoes. Those two entries were much more action-oriented, a logical choice given Ford’s reputation as an action hero. And in a Bond-like move, all three movies featured James Earl Jones as Adm. James Greer, Ryan’s mentor and boss.

From there things got much more infrequent as the studio made various attempts to reboot the franchise. The Sum Of All Fears in 2005 starred Ben Affleck as Ryan and adapted the book of the same name while making some interesting story changes. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit starred Chris Pine in 2014 and featured an original story. Both sought to bring a younger, less-experienced Ryan to the screen, offering a fresh start that could spawn a new series of sequels. Neither succeeded on that front, at least in part because they discarded the geekier, more technical elements of what made the Clancy-penned novels so popular.

The studio will try one more time later this year with the release of Without Remorse. Once more based on one of Clancy’s books, this one puts Jack Ryan to the side and instead focuses on CIA operator John Clark, played by Michael B. Jordan. Marketing for that movie has yet to fully spin up, but perhaps by cutting ties with Ryan Paramount will find the key to getting parts of the universe created in the novels that launched the “techno-thriller” in a groove and find the franchise the studio has been searching for.

Sonic The Hedgehog – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Sonic The Hedgehog at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

I kind of can’t believe there isn’t anything more fun on the movie’s official website, which just features basic information.

Media and Press

Sumpter talked about the movie on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” while Schwartz hit “Late Night.” Meanwhile, closer to release, Marsden appeared on “Late Night

There’s more information on the movie’s Snapchat sponsorship here and here.

Paramount shared a short featurette offering instructions on how to draw Sonic.

 

Another featurette showed how the movie’s Puma shoes were designed. And the process Carrey went through to become the movie’s villain is covered in another. Carrey also put in his time on the talk show circuit.

Overall

Picking Up The Spare

A profile of Schwartz had him talking about voicing the title character as well as lots more of his career.

Promos for the movie’s tie-ins with the Sonic Dash and Sonic Forces games were released after it was in theaters.

The Rhythm Section – Marketing Recap

How Eon and Paramount Pictures are selling a revenge drama rooted in personal tragedy.

rhythm section posterThere have been a few recent movies tackling the idea of a woman exacting revenge after her family is killed. While such stories are common with men in the lead role, those with women are still fairly rare and having been overly-successful when they do happen. One recent example is Peppermint, the 2018 film starring Jennifer Garner in the kind of role Bruce Willis has played a dozen times, which grossed only $35 million at the box office.

This week another entry comes on the field. The Rhythm Section stars Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick, whose family is killed in a plane crash. As she learns the crash wasn’t an accident but a planned attack on specific passengers. That knowledge leads her to dive into the world of international organized crime, but only after developing the skills necessary to survive. She keeps turning over rocks not meant to be distrubed, making powerful enemies along the way.

The movie’s campaign has focused on Stephanie’s unrelenting quest to punish those responsible, regardless of what might befall her and heedless of the warnings of others. With an opening weekend estimate in the $10-15 million range, audience interest seems to still be soft for movies like this, even as early reviews have been largely positive.

The Posters

Stephanie is shown on the first poster (by marketing agency Empire Design) released in September standing in her hotel room with a gun held behind her back. There’s no copy or tagline here, but it’s clear she’s planning something that will involve that weapon given the dark shadows and the determined look on her face.

The Trailers

The first trailer (3.7 million views on YouTube) finally came out in September. Stephanie is shown enlisting the aid of Proctor in the hunt for those responsible for the plane crash that killed her family years ago. He warns her it won’t be worth it and could be dangerous for her but she’s determined, to the point she takes matters into her own hands, finding and killing them herself. Her actions have consequences, of course, as they upset some powerful and dangerous people, but she remains undeterred.

A second shorter trailer (1.6 million views on YouTube) came out just last week. It starts by showing Stephanie preparing for the mission she’s chosen to embark on and the training that entails. It goes on to show the lengths she’ll go to in her quest to exact more than a pound of flesh and the ways in which she keeps going despite the odds against her. It also makes it much more explicit that the producers of the Bond franchise are involved, hoping to lend some of that series’ appeal to this movie.

Online and Social

There’s essentially nothing on the movie’s official website, at least nothing you can’t find elsewhere. It exists largely to just sell tickets.

Advertising and Publicity

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

The first clip released earlier this month offers an extended look at Stephanie engaged in a high-speed car chase with those she’s angered on her mission for vengeance. That same chase sequence was the subject of a short behind-the-scenes featurette released at about the same time. Additional clips offered more insights into Stephanie’s character and the allies she gathers along the way.

Short videos like this were used as social and online ads to drive traffic to the ticket-selling website. Other online ads used elements of the key art and other visuals to achieve the same objective.

Earlier this week the cast and crew attended the New York City red carpet premiere.

Media and Press

There were a few interviews with Lively and others in the cast, including Sterling K. Brown, but nothing of much note, at least not at this point in the cycle.

One interview with director Reed Moreno addressed the Bond connection that exists both through the story’s subject matter and Eon’s involvement in production. She was asked if she’d be interested in seeing a female Bond, something those producers recently nixed the idea of. While Moreno made a similar comment she did say seeing a Bond film with a female directorial perspective might offer a unique take on the character.

Overall

While the marketing is quite good and sells a compelling drama with a star apparently willing to push herself to physically sell the role, an increased emphasis on the inciting incident might have increased the emotional heft of the story being sold. As it stands there’s not much in the way of setup regarding the tragedy that has pushed Stephanie over the edge and into a life of violence, just an acknowledgement that something terrible has happened.

That being said, there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on here, not the least of which is simply that it’s a woman who has taken justice into her own hands after realizing the bad people are going to remain unpunished by others. There might be enough audience interest to capture people’s attention during another slow new release weekend, but if current movies keep chugging along it could also get lost in a wave of apathy during the winter doldrums.

Picking Up The Spare

Lively stopped by “The Tonight Show” to share stories from the set and engage in hijinks with the host.

A postmortem of the movie’s disappointing fate included comments on how this is just the latest action film with a complex female lead to not connect with audiences.

Like A Boss – Marketing Recap

How Paramount is selling a comedy about corporate greed and the problem of going into business with your friends.

like a boss poster 2Like A Boss stars Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne as Mia and Mel, respectively. The two women are long-time friends who have gone into business together, running a beauty company. The two partners compliment each other nicely, one more impulsive and creative the other more business-like and serious.

When their company falls on hard times an angel seems to appear in the form of high-profile CEO Claire Luna (Salma Hayek). She offers to throw the two the financial lifeline they desperately need. It quickly becomes clear that lifeline is more like a noose and Mia and Mel have to figure out how to get control back and save their livelihood.

Even if it’s not enough to win the weekend, the $15-20 million the movie is estimated to bring in over its opening weekend could make it the top grossing of this week’s new releases. That’s a testament to the campaign Paramount has run highlighting the comedic skills of the leads.

The Posters

like a boss poster“The world of beauty is about to get ugly” we’re told on the first poster (by marketing agency BLT Communications), released in September. That copy, combined with the big perfume bottle that acts as the focal point of the design, establishes what world the story takes place in and what kind of hijinks are in store. It’s a tagline that could work equally well for either a comedy or drama, though, so it remains a bit vague on the movie’s tone.

The second poster, released in December, features the same tagline but this time has all three of the main characters on it, with Mel and Mia flanking Claire, who is clearly the mature one in charge of the situation.

The Trailers

As the first trailer from September starts we’re immediately shown how close Mel and Mia are, discussing all sorts of topics and deep in each other’s lives. The independent beauty retail shop they own together, we learn, is deeply in debt. To the rescue (it appears) comes Claire, but her business-saving investment comes with strings attached and some heavy involvement from her, none of which goes over well with the longtime friends. They set out to get control of their business back, with hilarious results.

A second “NSFW” trailer debuted in early December that presents the same basic story and character attributes, just with more swearing, sexual humor and drug use.

Online and Social

There’s not a lot of material on the film’s official website, which is focused on selling tickets, including for a “Girls Night Out” early screening event being held at select theaters tonight, a few days before the official opening.

Advertising and Promotions

The stars appeared in a short “Friendsgiving” themed TV spot that debuted toward the end of November.

Fandango debuted an exclusive clip showing the scene where Mel and Mia have to fire their assistant to comedic effect.

Online ads like the one here used elements of the key art showing the three leads to drive traffic to the ticket-selling website.

Like a boss online ad

TV spots like this began running in the last couple weeks, with some short versions being used as pre-roll on YouTube and in other social ad units. They highlight the key comedic sequences from the movie, using footage from the trailers.

The stars showed up for a “pink carpet” premiere screening in New York City earlier this week.

Media and Press

There wasn’t a whole lot of pre-release press activity. Haddish and Byrne did make a handful of talk show appearances, though, with Haddish hitting “Good Morning America,” Byrne stopping by “The Late Show,” Hayek on “The Tonight Show” and more.

Overall

On its own merits, as presented here, the movie looks like a funny enough diversion at the theater. Haddish’s comedic brand of being loud and proud is fully on display throughout the campaign, as are the chops of Byrne (always underrated for her comedy roles) and Hayek.

The tracking estimates may indicate that, despite all the recent evidence to the contrary, there may still be some life left in theatrical comedies. At least that’s if they feature the right cast, and this one might fit that bill.

Picking Up the Spare

Haddish appeared on “Kimmel” and “Late Night” just as the movie was hitting theaters.

How Haddish and Byrne bonded on the set was covered here.