How the latest in an unlikely film series has been sold.
When I say it’s surprising that 2015’s Creed has now spawned two sequels, including this week’s Creed III, what I mean is that the first two movies have no right being as good as they are, mainly because unlike other legacy sequels they actually build something new instead of simply retreading the past.
Michael B. Jordan directs this installment as well as returning in the title role of Adonis Creed. As the story picks up, Adonis has retired from professional boxing and is married to Bianca (Tessa Thompson). His past isn’t done with him, though, as Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors) appears, seemingly intent on settling old scores from an incident when they were younger that sent Anderson to prison.
With Adonis now having established enough of his own history to not be reliant on Rocky Balboa’s let’s take a look at how the movie has been sold.
announcements and casting
Baylin was announced as the movie’s writer in March of 2020. Rumors and comments circulated for the next several months that not only would Jordan return in the title role but that he would use this as his directorial debut. Those rumors were confirmed in March 2021 at the same time MGM announced a release date.
While he was promoting Without Remorse Jordan was also asked about this movie, confirming in an interview that Stallone would not be returning as Rocky Balboa so that Adonis could more fully come into his own. Jordan continued teasing the movie, later talking about the directing tips he got from Denzel Washington when they were working on Journal For Jordan.
Leyva, Moore II and others joined the cast in early 2022.
Thompson commented briefly about where the movie was and what it was like to work with Jordan as director as well as costar while she was promoting Thor: Love and Thunder.
Amazon released a pair of first look stills in mid-October of last year.
the marketing campaign
Two posters were released in mid-October last year, one each showing Creed and Anderson sitting in their respective corners. There’s no additional copy outside of the title, with the appeal here being exclusively the look of the two stars.
Food trucks were sent to a handful of HBCUs to give away food and offer a first look at the trailer along with other surprises.
That trailer (15m YouTube plays) begins with Adonis reflecting on how far he’s come and what he’s accomplished before he reconnects with Damian, who wants to be a fighter himself. But he has his own agenda, namely to get what Adonis has because he felt it should rightfully be his. It all, of course, leads to a showdown between the two to settle old scores and see who’s the best.
Jordan talked about the influences he pulled from as a first time director and more in an Empire interview that contained a handful of new stills. At a press conference around the same time he shared the reasons he worked to cast Mexican boxer Canelo Álvarez and include elements of Mexican boxing in the story.
Adonis, Bianca and their daughter Amara are featured on the next poster to show the very personal stakes Adonis is fighting for in the story.
An IMAX featurette has Jordan talking about the personal nature of the story and how it’s the result of living with the character for so many years now as well as his desire to push both the character and himself.
In late January Jordan appeared on “The Tonight Show” and hosted “Saturday Night Live.” TV commercials also started airing at this time as tickets were going on sale.
A new poster was also released showing Adonis in mid-punch against an unseen opponent. On another he’s squaring off against Damian.
More new stills were part of a Total Film interview with Majors where he shared more details about his character. Majors was also the subject of an EBONY cover story.
Exclusive posters came out from Dolby, IMAX,
Another featurette has the main cast talking about the story and their characters and how so much of what’s come before pays off in this movie.
Jordan attended the Mexico City premiere in early February. We get more details on the conflict between Adonis and Damian in a TV spot that aired during the Super Bowl broadcast at that time.
An extensive profile of Jordan focuses on this movie and how he worked to overcome his nerves around directing for the first time and more while also looking at how it fits into his long journey through the entertainment industry in his career.
Additional premieres and screenings were held in Paris, London and elsewhere.
One more poster has Damian looming in the background like a super-villain with Adonis in the foreground.
The final trailer (16m YouTube plays) offers more details on Damian’s background and his history, as well as his beef, with Adonis, and how Adonis needs to confront the mistakes of his past to settle things before all that he’s accomplished is destroyed.
Jordan took part in IGN’s Fan Fest event and hinted at the anime influences behind some of the fight sequences. He also continued to appear on “GMA” and other talk shows to promote the film.
Promotional partners for the movie included:
- BOXRAW, which launched a line of movie-inspired boxing gear.
- Dreamville, which worked with Interscope Records to hold a boxing-themed workout and wellness day at the L.A. Expo Center.
- Fortnite, which offered an Adonis Creed outfit to those who took part in a particular event.
- Ralph Lauren, which featured Jordan in a new campaign
- Calvin Klein, which also had Jordan in a new campaign though with a decidedly different wardrobe
- Hennessey, which sponsored a boxing gym pop-up experience in L.A.
The studio worked with local artists in New York City and Los Angeles to create murals promoting the movie.
Everyone was in attendance at the Los Angeles premiere event at the end of February. While there Jordan praised his cast and crew and talked more about how the challenge of directing and continuing Adonis’ story was something he felt he had to do to prove himself.
There was a short featurette on Ann Najjar, a real boxing trainer who appears in the movie as one of those helping get Adonis back in fighting shape. We get more behind the scenes footage and comments in another featurette. A bunch of athletes were invited to Creed Camp to get a taste of what training as a fighter is really like.
Majors did a few more talk show appearances, including on “Late Night” and “The Late Show.”
There are a few things that stand out to me about the campaign:
- The expected $40 million opening weekend box-office would definitely be a win for all involved as this is Jordan in particular going all-in on making and defining his own career.
- Jordan is such a fascinating mix of being intensely serious and also playfully funny and all of that comes out here, where he is the single biggest focus of the campaign for a number of very good reasons.
- OK, but I would have also loved more of Thompson in the marketing.
- Jonathan Majors and I basically have the same body type, so it was heartening to see myself represented on film.
No, seriously, this is a quality campaign that sells a simple story extremely well. At the heart of it is Adonis Creed – and by extension Jordan – standing on his own without the legacy of Rocky and Apollo dictating everything.