How Lionsgate has sold a throwback buddy action comedy sequel.
Reviews haven’t been great for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, calling it excessive and unnecessary but at least shorter than the first one. The resulting 26% Rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes reflects that, but projections still have the film hitting around $15 million this long weekend, already bringing in $3.9 million on Wednesday.
The movie reunites Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek from 2017’s first film. As the story opens Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is getting out of the bodyguard business, in part because of the traumatic events of the earlier movie. But he’s sucked back into even more extreme violence when Sonia Kincaid (Hayek) recruits him against his wishes to help find and free her husband Darius (Jackson) after he’s kidnapped by mobsters. That gets all three of them involved in an Interpol mission to stop the terrorist Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas) from doing whatever it is he’s planning to do.
Nothing about the first movie could be mistaken for high art, but it was a fun Midnight Run/Running Scared-esque action comedy with two characters who loathed each other, highlighted mainly by the banter between Jackson and Reynolds. As we’ll see, the marketing of the sequel has tried to sell that same value proposition.
All five of the leads — including Morgan Freeman, who plays Reynolds’ step-father — are arrayed on the first poster (by marketing agency Leroy and Rose), released in mid-May. From the gritty orange as well as the guns in everyone’s hands, it’s clear this is an action comedy. In fact it looks just like one-sheets for a number of other similar movies.
The same background design is used on character motion posters released at the end of May.
There’s even more action as Bryce and the Kincaids ride a motorcycle away from explosions and armed pursuers on the IMAX poster.
The first trailer (9.8 million views on YouTube), released in early April, opens with Michael reliving a terrible dream involving Kincaid and deciding to take a sabbatical to recharge and get over his issues. Of course trouble follows him to paradise as he gets mixed up, thanks to Sonia, with Kincaid one more time. Michael’s problems with this are amplified by the fact he’s trying to take a break from killing or protecting people, but circumstances just won’t let him sit on the sidelines.
A red-band version (400,000 views on YouTube) with lots of cursing came out about a week later.
The second trailer (15.2 million views on YouTube) came out a little over a month later. It still focuses on the dynamic between Michael and Kincaid – as well as Kincaid’s wife – but also puts it in the context of a bit more of the story and why they find themselves teaming up again.
Online and Social
Not much beyond the basic marketing assets on the movie’s official website, but the Twitter and other social media profiles were a lot more fun, trying to convey Reynolds’ trademark humor whole offering clips and other assets in the hopes people would share them.
Advertising, Press & Publicity
In early May there were a couple social promos like this timed for Mother’s Day that focused on Sonia’s declarations of what a great mother she’d be.
A Variety cover story on Hayek had her talking about how Hughes reached out to her about a role in the movie and how his wanting to involve her in developing the character helped her sign up enthusiastically.
The first TV spot came out in late May, an extended spot that continues showing the mix of action and humor in the movie, especially courtesy of Hayek.
Snap and Atom Tickets partnered to give Snapchat users access to early screenings to help get them excited for — and talking about — the movie.
The first clip shows Kincaid’s reaction to finding out his wife has brought in Michael despite his explicit instructions. Additional clips show Michael being pulled from sabbatical by Sonia, the three on an awkward drive through the Italian countryside and Michael trying to convince Sonia to take a less violent approach to a situation.
iHeartRadio ran a sweepstakes sending the winner on their own sabbatical earlier this month.
Jackson talked about the movie when he appeared on “Late Night” last week. Hayek and Reynolds appeared together on “Good Morning America” and she appeared on her own on “The Tonight Show.”
Regal had a promotional video of interviews with the stars.
Key art was repurposed as outdoor and online ads.
This whole campaign is like