Star Trek, Beyond: Even the Big Guns Suck at Marketing

Over at ScyFy, Simon Pegg has been bemoaning the atrocious marketing job done for Star Trek Beyond. He’s particularly scathing about the trailer above.

…It used ‘Sabotage,’ which was our surprise moment in the end. It was supposed to be a very fun and heightened twist, and something that was a big surprise, and they blew it in the first trailer, which really annoyed me. They also made the film look like a boneheaded action film. And they were scared, I think, of mentioning the 50th anniversary. It was fumbled as a thing; they didn’t know what to do with it, and it’s a real shame.

Now here’s a bigger shame: I didn’t even know there was a Star Trek Beyond, at least not as a stand-alone film. As far as I can tell from the series’ marketing to date, all of the new Star Trek movies are completely interchangeable, without any unique selling points, and all essentially one big recycled drama about the tense three-way between Kirk, Spock and Uhuru. Plus some “beam me ups” for good measure. And I had no inkling whatsoever that it was the series’ 50th anniversary.

So you see, sometimes even the Big Guns really suck at movie marketing.

Love, Simon

Love, Simon is something of a first; a major Hollywood studio production that does not diminish or ignore the fact that it’s essentially a gay teen love story in its marketing materials. Just look at the cheeky billboards erected in LA to promote the movie. We-ho – West Hollywood – is obviously the city’s main gay district.

This was all part of a text-based “Dear [blank]” campaign, pulling in a narrative device from the film with customized billboard and bus stop promos specific to different film markets. A second Los Angeles area advertisement, for example, reads: “Dear WeHo, I’m done keeping my story straight.”

In New York, signs proclaim, “If I can come out here, I can come out anywhere.” Ads in the nation’s capital say, “Dear DC, You seem confused. Good thing I’m not.” Other cities with tailored messages include Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego, Boston and Dallas.

LA Times reports that Fox also created a postcard generator that allows users to create their own “Dear [blank]” graphics. The film’s official Twitter account used it to send words of encouragement to openly gay Olympians Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon.

So now all that’s left is to buy tickets to the film (so they get the message and make more movies like this…)

PS also check out the Dasani Water product placement in the top image.

Veronica and the Release Strategies

Two things. First: Veronica. It’s the latest from Paco Plaza, the Spanish writer-director responsible for the first two [REC] movies. It’s a solid, well-made horror telling the ostensibly true tale of a luckless 15 year old who invites something horrible in after an ill-advised ouija game. The ensuing drama plays out mostly in a small Madrid apartment, ramping up the conflicts bit by bit, to a suitably chaotic climax. I enjoyed it. It won’t win many accolades (except for the acting, which was great) and it was all-in-all a gripping enough way to spend 90 minutes. So far so good.

The second thing, and the main reason I mention this movie at all, is that Veronica was released direct to Netflix, with zero publicity and no fanfare. Yesterday, no Veronica, today; ta-da. Netflix would seem to be a odd release strategy for a movie maker; it seems to be a kind of marketing deadzone, an apologetic admittance of middling quality… Continue reading “Veronica and the Release Strategies”

The Cured

Ten years of classical private school education and a degree in English Literature, yet my favorite escapist viewing is: Zombies. Zombies plus Ellen Page gets extra points. Ellen Page and Irish Zombies is kind of completely off the charts. Totally on my list.

The Astonishing Word-of-Mouth Success of The Greatest Showman

Not so secretly, I loathe Hugh Jackman professional public persona. All a bit hammy and self-aware and “ra-ra theatre major” for my liking. Putting him in a movie called “The Greatest Showman” confirmed all of my very worst assumptions of his overwhelming pride and self-satisfaction. It could not have been any more toxic. Initial reviews by the critics reinforced the wisdom of my decision to stay the hell away. I literally had no intention whatsoever of seeing the film.

And then, then: I heard this song. And my friends began posting excited updates of their own post-viewing satisfaction. And then I sought out the soundtrack, and….. then I trekked to the movies one cold Belgrade evening and paid for a ticket. I loved it, I went back and saw it again, listened more, downloaded the soundtrack, followed the publicity stunts – inspired (Influencers Performance) and utterly ludicrous (James Corden and the New York Crosswalk.) I even grew to love Hugh Jackman a little bit along the way.

The success of the word-of-mouth has been literally unprecedented.

Dinosaur Protection Group

Jurassic World raises the bar again on transmedia content. Check out the website for Dinosaur Protection Group; for all intents and purposes set up as a real programme campaigning for the rights of….dinosaurs. It’s a complete amalgam of the forthcoming film (Fallen Kingdom), related content that won’t be appearing in the movie itself, and actual paleotology disguised as zoology. You’ve got mission statements, Dino facts, and a monitor of seismic activity on Isla Nubar, as Mt. Sibo volcano prepares to blow. Pages and pages of it. Down the rabbit hole of audience engagement. I freakin’ love this stuff.