The Lion King – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap – all 2,900 words of it – of the marketing campaign for The Lion King at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

The content found on the movie’s official website won’t engage anyone for very long, consisting primarily of marketing materials and other basic information. There are social media profiles for the movie – including an oddly-abbreviated Twitter account – but most of the action is happening on Disney Studios’ own brand profiles.

Media and Publicity

The challenges faced by Disney as it seeks to mix the old and the new with all these remakes was the subject of a feature profile. Along those lines, Favreau promised there is something new here and that he didn’t just produce a shot-for-shot remake of the animated film and made it clear there’s no actual live action footage in the film. He also talked about how he was able to cast Beyonce in a voice role and how incredible it was to get Jones to reprise his role. Ejiofor shared his love of the original and how approached playing Scar while the pair of Eichner and Rogen explored how they wanted to approach their characters.

Favreau continued focusing on the technical aspects of production, a natural theme since there wasn’t much to discuss in terms of bringing a new vision to the story or anything else. That was also the topic of a feature discussing the VR tools used for filming and production.

Members of the cast mentioned the movie while promoting other projects, including Key talking about dealing with questions regarding Beyonce during the Toy Story 4 publicity tour.

Closer to release more of the cast – including Favreau, Glover, Rogen and Eichner – appeared on “Kimmel,” part of the in-company promotional push.

Rogen and Eichner did a joint interview about working together to create their own chemistry during voice recording sessions. And a profile of Favreau pointed out how this is just the latest – and not even the last – project he’s worked on for Disney as the studio’s recent go-to guy.


Picking Up the Spare

More IMAX promotions have been released, including an interview with the cast and others and featurettes on the making of the movie and the sound of the IMAX presentation in theaters. 

Reports are that TV spending alone amounted to almost $30 million.  

There were additional interviews with Favreau and Eichner following release. 

John Oliver took to “Late Night” to talk about his role in the movie. 

A key moment that has fun with another Disney classic was featured in a new TV spot. Meanwhile a more full look at “Circle of Life” was released as a clip and a new featurette continued the campaign’s late focus on Timon and Pumba while another focused on the movie’s music.

Another promotional video here for the movie’s tie-in lion conservation campaign.

Let’s Look At Some of 2019’s Anticipated Movies

With 2018 now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward to what’s coming to audiences by way of feature releases in 2019. Thanks to a number of media and theater-adjacent companies we have a decent idea of what people are looking forward to.

While every news site has published their own lists of films its staff is anxious to see, a few have been released based on survey results and they show a lot of commonalities, both in specific titles and rationales. Let’s take a look at what Atom Tickets, Fandango and IMDb have to tell us about what has gotten people’s attention among the upcoming releases.

  • Avengers: Endgame (Atom #1, IMDb #2, Fandango #1)
  • Captain Marvel (Atom #2, IMDb #1, Fandango #2)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (Atom #3, Fandango #4)
  • Toy Story 4 (Atom #4, Fandango #5)
  • The Lion King (Atom #5, Fandango #7)
  • Star Wars: Episode IX (Atom #6, Fandango #3)
  • Aladdin (Atom #7, IMDb #9, Fandango #8)
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix (Atom #8, IMDb #3,
  • Glass (Atom #9, IMDb #7, Fandango #6)
  • Jumanji 2 (Atom #10)
  • Hellboy (IMDb #10)
  • Joker (IMDB #8, Fandango #10)
  • It: Chapter Two (IMDb #6)
  • Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (IMDb #4)
  • Dumbo (Fandango #9)

So what do all those titles and their rankings tell us?

Super Heroes Continue To Be Big Draws

Six movies out of the 15 spread across the three lists feature comic book characters, with Marvel’s Avengers and Captain Marvel releases appearing at or new the top of them all along with the Spider-Man sequel produced in partnership with Sony Pictures. Marvel is also the source for the latest X-Men installment, one of two coming out this year that have been repeatedly pushed down the release calendar by Fox for various reasons. Add to that the new Hellboy movie with David Harbour in the title role and the Joker solo feature and you have lots of comics-based IP in theaters, not to mention the other films not on this list. Given that “critics finally embrace super hero movies” was one of the dominant themes coming out of 2018 and this isn’t at all surprising.

Sequels and Remakes Oh My!

With the exception of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood on IMDb’s list, everything here is either a sequel or remake of an earlier film. I’m including in that category the Joker movie since the character is so well known even if this is a new take independent of previous film incarnations. So studios aren’t going out on many limbs, at least not with the movies that have already begun their hype cycles, instead choosing to remain firmly on familiar ground in an effort to best appeal to the audience that isn’t interested in taking risks with their money and time. Notably, all three non-franchise releases from Disney on the lists are remakes of classic animated features.

Disney Continues to Dominate

Of the 15 films that make up the three lists, Disney is the force behind eight of them. Those releases include not just those remakes but also new installments in the franchises they manage including Star Wars and Marvel. In 2018 Disney accounted for one quarter of total box office receipts and it’s hoping to continue gaining more and more market share even as it enters the year it’s expected to launch its own streaming subscription service. That service will be filled with similar material related to Star Wars, Marvel and other properties, including sequels or remakes of its back catalog.

Earned Media Will Help All These Films

Every title on the list comes with the kind of big press hooks that will ensure whatever paid marketing is done the main job of raising audience awareness and keeping appetites stoked will be done through the press. Cover stories, feature profiles and more have already come out about many of them and will continue to be placed by press teams regularly to offer first look photos, new interviews with the talent involved and more. Corporate synergies will also be exploited to make sure casts enjoy cozy environments on the talk shows airing on networks owned by the same companies producing the films, helping to garner even more attention and earn even more secondary media coverage.

Hey…Where’s Netflix?

It’s surprising to see none of the movies planned by the streaming behemoth on any of the three lists, except it’s actually not. Atom, IMDb and Fandango are all tied closely to the theatrical industry, especially through ticket sales, so not seeing upcoming films from Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and others is largely to be expected. But it’s likely these films will receive significant marketing pushes as their release nears. It’s also possible Netflix pulls out another period like 2018’s “Summer Of Love” where it released a number of romantic comedies and completely dominated the cultural conversation for months.

As usual, how all this turns out remains to be seen. Some of these titles will go on to be massive successes and some will fall by the wayside. But right now, these are the movies people have said they’re willing to check out, which should make studio publicity teams feel pretty good.