Picking Up the Spare: BlacKkKlansman, The Meg and More

BlacKkKlansman

Great profiles here and here of Laura Harrier, who didn’t get much attention in advance of release. Costume designer Marci Rogers also was interviewed about her work on the movie.

John David Washington shared what his first experiences on the set of the film were and what inspired him about working with Spike Lee.

Washington and others from the cast spoke out about what has happened in the country in the year since the Charlottesville incidents and how the movie connects to that. They also explained how they got into character for the time period the story is set in.

There have been a number of stories like this that continue to explore the real events depicted in the story and the connection between the real Ron Stallworth and Washington, who plays him in the movie.

Topher Grace continues to be a central focus of the press as he appears on “Late Night” to talk about the film.

Lee finally got on TV, talking with Seth Meyers about the connections between this movie – and the events that inspired it – and the present day. He also appeared on “The Daily Show.”

Solo: A Star Wars Story

ILM’s Rob Bredow spoke about a number of technology issues, including the use of virtual reality in the making of the movie.

The Meg

Director Jon Turteltaub and others shared how they wanted to make a fun, exciting and pulse-pounding shark movie. Meanwhile, star Jason Statham continues to complain about how difficult the set was and how this wasn’t the movie he thought he’d be in.

Deadline hits many of the points I already covered when discussing the movie’s marketing but adds a few quotes from studio executives as well.

The details of Intel’s promotional partnership with the movie wasn’t clear in advance of release, but there have been more details that have come out since then about how the company contributed to the AI that helped power the digital shark.

Crazy Rich Asians

Awkwafina continues to be a bit focus of the publicity as the “breakout” star of the movie, with new features on her hitting Rolling Stone and Variety.

Michelle Yeoh has also gotten some warranted attention for her long and varied career in Hollywood. And Constance Wu once more hits the point about how this isn’t just your average romantic comedy.

Both Wu and Awkwafina made additional late night TV stops.

Juliet, Naked

Chris O’Dowd made an appearance on late night TV while a profile of Rose Byrne calls out how she’s an extremely underrated comedic powerhouse.

The team responsible for creating the music of Ethan Hawke’s musician in the movie talk about that process here.

The Equalizer 2

A new spot hits a theme that wasn’t emphasized very strongly in the earlier campaign, that of the mentor/mentee relationship between Robert and Miles.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Picking Up the Spare: Ant-Man and The Wasp, Teen Titans Go! and More

Ant-Man and The Wasp

Marvel released a new video promoting the movie-themed sponsorship of Girls Who Code, the popular tech-based educational program. It shows director Peyton Reed and others speaking to groups about the science of the story and how important a STEM-based education is.

There was also a new interview with Hannah John-Kamen where she talks in particular about working with Michelle Pfeiffer.

Deadpool 2

One of the stunts pulled at Comic-Con was a Chuck E. Cheese-esque animatronic band with Deadpool and a bunch of animals playing “9 to 5” and you can see a promotional video for the group’s tour here. The panel with Ryan Reynolds and other members of the cast was as offensive as you’d expect.

Another round of Deadpool-themed alternate Blu-ray covers for other Fox movies is coming, some of which were also handed out at Comic-Con.

The Equalizer 2

More from costar Ashton Sanders on what it was like to work with Denzel Washington and learn from the veteran actor.

The IMAX poster is much cooler than what was used more generally, showing just Washington’s torso with a tie that takes the shape of Lady Justice.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

The Regal Cinemas exclusive poster continues the meta theatrical theme by showing the Titans as well as a few other heroes – and Slade – sitting in the theater watching a movie.

Blindspotting

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal appeared together on “The Daily Show” to talk about creating the movie and what the story meant to them. They’re also interviewed here about how there’s a slight surge in the number of movies, including their own, set in the Bay Area.

Another TV spot that plays up the critical acclaim the movie has accumulated.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

Another substantive feature interview with director Gus Van Sant here about how the film fits into his overall body of work.

Eighth Grade

Both director Bo Burnham and star Elsie Fisher have showed up on more late night talk shows, with Burnham appearing on “Seth Myers” and Fisher appearing on “Kimmel.”

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Lily James talks here about how she got an American accent down and how she studied Meryl Streep’s line readings from the first movie to mimic her speaking patterns as much as possible.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Lots more official featurettes have been released, including an IMAX Q&A with director Christopher McQuarrie, and character-specific profiles of Simon Pegg, Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett.

Bassett also joined Tom Cruise on “The Late Late Show” while Cavill popped up on “Kimmel” to talk about stunts and other aspects of making the movie. Meanwhile costar Vanessa Kirby, who wasn’t a huge part of the main campaign, was interviewed about the stunts (of course) and her decision to join the franchise.

Extinction

Star Michael Pena stopped by “Colbert” but only got a plug for the movie in briefly at the end of the interview.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Picking Up the Spare – Sorry To Bother You, Skyscraper and More

Sorry to Bother You

The movie has generated a metric ton of stories such as this about code-switching and “white voice.” Annapurna Pictures leaned into that by releasing a featurette with Patton Oswalt and David Cross, who provide some of the white voices used by black characters in the film.

Star Lakeith Stanfield has engaged in a bit more media, including appearing on “Kimmel” to promote the movie.

Skyscraper

It was apparent in the film’s campaign, but the distinct lack of sense of humor was one (at least potential) reason the movie didn’t perform up to expectations at the box-office. While I haven’t seen it, the problem likely stems from how it adds the element of putting the hero’s wife and children in the middle of the action. That increases the stakes, but it also makes a wise-cracking protagonist odd and out of place. You’ll note that Die Hard, which the movie clearly was aspiring to be, avoided that.

Dwayne Johnson and director Rawson Marshall talk here about Neve Campbell’s character, who was all but missing completely from the campaign.

This is an interesting profile of Johnson and the clout he wields, including his formidable social media presence.

Also, the movie has come under some scrutiny as another example of Hollywood casting an able-bodied actor to play a disabled character, which is part of a bigger conversation around representation.

Avengers: Infinity War

While Marvel Studios isn’t at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, LEGO is bringing a life-size version of Thanos to the convention.

Ready Player One

The theatrical run is over for the movie but it’s freshly out on home video platforms and media, so Warner Bros. has brought costumes, props and a VR experience to San Diego Comic-Con.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

It’s not a big push, but Disney/Lucasfilm are including a life-size replica of the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit as seen in the movie to the Star Wars booth at San Diego Comic-Con.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

Amazon released a bunch of new posters on Twitter that are much better than the low-effort theatrical one-sheet.

Jonah Hill showed up on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie and working with Phoenix.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

Cher announced she has recorded and will release a whole album of ABBA covers to capitalize on her involvement with the movie and her time once more in the spotlight.

Christine Baranski, Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper both hit late-night talk shows to talk about working with Cher and even kind of the rest of the movie.

The producer of the original stage show had a chance to weigh in on the musical’s legacy, and the movie’s director talked about the cameos by two of ABBA’s original members.

Universal worked with an influencer marketing agency to coordinate a shot-for-shot remake of the original video for “Mamma Mia!” the song featuring a bunch of YouTube personalities.

Black Panther

Shuri, T’Challa’s sister and the breakout favorite character from the movie, is reportedly getting her own comic series.

Eighth Grade

Writer/director Bo Burnham continues to make the media rounds to talk up his movie, which is gearing up to be a word-of-mouth success. Also many people have pointed out this disconnect, which is that a few words and scenes that are going to be familiar to anyone in junior high have given the movie a rating designed to keep out anyone who’s actually in junior high.

The Equalizer 2

Denzel Washington addressed directly how this is his first sequel and why he’s long avoided doing them and how he tried to bring the feeling and emotion back to the character. Also, he and costar Ashton Sanders talk here about their on-screen dynamic.

Deadpool 2

Yeah, the Comic-Con stunts promoting the movie’s home video release are just about what you’d expect.

The Equalizer 2 – Marketing Recap

Denzel Washington winks at his history of avoiding sequels in the campaign for THE EQUALIZER 2.

equalizer 2 posterFor the first time in his career, Denzel Washington adds a sequel to his filmography. The actor has, for whatever reason, refrained from doing so in the past, though some of his movies certainly warranted one. That sequel is The Equalizer 2, the follow-up to the 2014 film based on the classic TV show of the same name.

In both movies, Washington plays Robert McCall, a former government operative with a knack for clearing rooms of threats quickly and a soft spot for those down on their luck or facing abuse of some kind. When he finds out Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), a former colleague who he’s kept in touch with, has been attacked by highly-skilled agents he sets out on a vendetta to find out who they are and make sure justice is served.

The Posters

Denzel’s face glares out at the audience from a Roman numeral II, showing both the intensity of the character and reinforcing that this is the second film in the series. “There is no equal” is the tagline used, which is something that could be applied to both the character and the actor himself.

The Trailers

McCall is on a train in Turkey as the trailer opens, engaging in some verbal taunting of the tough guys who have kidnapped a little girl, tough guys he dispatches with relative ease. Things get personal when he returns home and one of his oldest – and only – friends is attacked despite her being far off the radar. That makes his next mission one of not just justice but revenge as he realizes the attack could only have been the work of someone inside the agency they both work for. After all that it’s just a series of action sequences showing how deadly McCall is.

Washington is so good he embues, even in the trailer, a role like this with more gravitas and emotion than most other actors who have either discovered action films late in their career or who have stayed in the genre well past when they should have left it. The story isn’t exactly original – a variation on the “This time it’s personal” theme – but Fuqua and Washington are good enough to elevate the material.

The second trailer gets to that same story, but only after doing a little more setup work showing McCall passes the time as a Lyft driver who also helps avenge those he comes across who have been wronged. That inclusion makes the story of him seeking out justice for his friend even stronger.

Just a couple days before the movie hit theaters, Sony released a short “Music Trailer” featuring largely the same scenes and material but with the song “In the Name of Love” from Jacob Banks turned up a bit more prominently in the mix.

Online and Social

The landing page of the movie’s official website opens with full-screen video interrupted by prompts to buy tickets and links to its Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles.

Most of what’s included in the top content menu is the standard “Synopsis,” “Trailer,” and “Gallery” material. In addition to that are sections with the “NBA Audition Videos” that were used as TV spots (more on those below) and the “Twitch: Solo Squad Showdown,” which appears to have been a movie-sponsored tournament on the streaming channel.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV advertising kicked off with a spot that aired during the NBA Finals featuring Washington talking about how he doesn’t do sequels and that instead the studio should audition NBA stars to take on his role. That specific campaign continued with a whole series of commercials featuring different NBA players like Dwight Howard, Lonzo Ball, Paul George and others, including one with various players offering their own catchphrase suggestions.

Some of the videos were used as social ads while the key art was used for online banners and other units, all leading to the website for people to buy tickets.

Media and Publicity

Things kicked off on the press front when Washington showed up on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie, basketball, the Oscars and lots more.

Washington, Leo and others from the cast also participated in Twitter Q&As, Reddit AMAs and other online fan interactions. There were also a few other interviews and appearances, some including Fuqua, but that’s about it.

Overall

It really seems as though Sony is relying heavily on the paid campaign to generate awareness of the movie as opposed to engaging in a significant earned media push. In particular, the studio seems to believe the core audience is sports fans of some kind or another, either NBA aficionados or those more interested in e-sports. It’s almost like the decision was made to sell this as a testosterone-fueled revenge flick that offers a stark contrast to the more nerd-centric super hero movies.

Washington seems to be having some measure of fun, at least as much as I’ve seen him have in some recent campaign, relaxing a bit by returning to a character and even poking some fun at his unwillingness to do so previously. That’s good and he’s allowed to loosen up a bit from time to time. Whether that charm is enough to convince people to turn out to theaters for a story that’s more personal than many other action franchises remains to be seen.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

A new spot hits a theme that wasn’t emphasized very strongly in the earlier campaign, that of the mentor/mentee relationship between Robert and Miles.

 

More from costar Ashton Sanders on what it was like to work with Denzel Washington and learn from the veteran actor.

 

The IMAX poster is much cooler than what was used more generally, showing just Washington’s torso with a tie that takes the shape of Lady Justice.
Denzel Washington addressed directly how this is his first sequel and why he’s long avoided doing them and how he tried to bring the feeling and emotion back to the character. Also, he and costar Ashton Sanders talk here about their on-screen dynamic.

Hollywood Embraces the NBA Finals to Sell Its Movies

A.J. Katz wrote recently at Adweek about how much it cost companies to advertise during the NBA Finals, a series that featured LeBron James proving once more that he’s the greatest player the league has ever seen if you completely forget that Michael Jordan existed.

Ratings for the games were generally good, averaging roughly what they have in recent years, though the Championship series dropped toward the end as it became clear the Golden State Warriors were going to finish off the Cleveland Cavaliers in undramatic fashion.

While there were, of course, a wide variety of brands and industries that sought to generate interest – taking advantage of the fact that to date live sports are still largely watched live – Hollywood in particular jumped up to advertise during the games. Not only did they run commercials but in most every case the studios created unique spots that featured well-known players interacting with talent from the movies in fun and attention-getting ways.

The Equalizer 2

Sony created a mini-campaign that aired throughout the series, the most ambitious of the advertising efforts collected here.

It kicked off with a spot featuring star Denzel Washington explaining to director Anton Fuqua how he doesn’t do sequels, something that’s actually true. Instead, he suggests, the studio should audition NBA stars to take on his role.

That lead to a whole series of commercials featuring different NBA players like Dwight Howard, Lonzo Ball, Paul George and others, including one with various players offering their own catchphrase suggestions. After all that the campaign finishes off with Washington agreeing everyone else is terrible and he’s in for the movie.

Night School

The game broadcast afforded Universal an opportunity to kick off the paid TV campaign for the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy, where she plays the night school (natch) teacher whose class he attends so he can earn his GED and get a better job.

The spot features Hart in a classroom having one of those nightmare moments where he realizes he’s wholly unprepared for a test she’s about to administer. Showing up all around him are Karl Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge and Devin Booker, all of whom are there just to make Hart feel worse about his circumstances.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

A commercial featuring Kyle Lowry was released back in April, well before the playoffs started, but it was run during the series and was meant to promote that ahead of time. In the spot, Lowry enters a dark and empty basketball court as he talks about things that are hidden in the shadow. Him getting some practice shots in are intercut with footage from the film of a dinosaur emerging from a tunnel with a loud roar.

Hotel Artemis

In the movie-branded spot, a wounded Marcellus Wiley is joined in an elevator by Dave Bautista, who in the movie plays an orderly at the hotel that doubles as a hospital of last resort for the criminal set. Bautista explains that Wiley will be fine before abandoning him.

What Sony, Universal and Global Road seem to be trying to do is create content that gets people’s attention, not just ads that are easily skipped over. These are micro-moments that incorporate elements of influencer marketing since the idea is that the NBA players themselves are affixing their personal brand and popularity to the movies, hopefully bringing some members of their fanbase along for the ride.

That doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on Hotel Artemis, the only movie of this group currently in theaters. It grossed only $3.1 million in its opening weekend despite receiving good reviews that called out its originality and off-kilter tone, both things people claim to want more of.

Two of the four movies – Artemis and Night School – didn’t feature any actual film footage at all, an interesting tactic that may not have helped make the case for the more unusual-looking Artemis but which isn’t that surprising for Night School since the focus of that movie’s campaign to date is on Hart and Haddish, not the story. The Jurassic World spot was the most footage-heavy (though nothing that showed any of the human characters, which is also consistent with that movie’s larger campaign) and Equalizer didn’t pull it out until the very end, which makes sense.

While the NBA Finals may not be the massive cultural event of something like the Super Bowl, it’s obvious studios wanted to get at least some exposure and awareness out of a series that was predicted to be worth watching. How those ads wind up impacting the three movies still awaiting their theatrical release remains to be seen.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.