Welcome to Moviepilot's Marketing Spotlight, our weekly look at which marketing campaigns are doing it right. In the world of entertainment, the marketing of a movie or TV series can be as important as the production itself. A good promo campaign can mean the difference between a hit and a flop, but a putting together a smart campaign is harder than it looks.
Here are the great pieces of marketing from this past week, November 29-December 5.
Macbeth (Weinstein Company)
The Weinstein Co. always puts out at least one or two legitimate Oscar-contending films every year, and their marketing campaigns are usually a clear reflection of the high art-meets-general public tone of most of their films. Macbeth, releasing this week, is no different, with the campaign exactly designed for the crowd it's trying to entice - one that loves bloody, gritty historical drama, but may be turned off or intimidated by Shakespearean dialogue.
To that end, the marketing campaign has been heavy on tone and ambience, but relatively sparse with the dialogue. The color scheme for everything has been one of two palettes: The grays of fog, the smoke of battle, grit, and the reddish-brown-gold of dirt and clay, blood, flesh, and the riches for which Macbeth and his duplicitous wife, Lady Macbeth strive. Neither of the trailers have spelled out the plot, and that's fine. To draw in the audience they want, the trailers only have to focus on stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, emphasize the stunning visuals, and let fans know they're in for a gritty, sweeping epic. It's evocative of, say, Game of Thrones or Braveheart, and should be right in the wheelhouse of the same audience who are fans of both.
Macbeth is in theaters on Friday, December 11.
In the Heart of the Sea (Warner Bros.)
In the Heart of the Sea is another holidays-timed release looking to slide into the awards season conversation. However, unlike Macbeth, which is trying to downplay the required high school reading source material, the marketing for In the Heart of the Sea is putting the "based on a true story" aspect of the movie front and center of the campaign. That it was the inspiration for Moby Dick is something that Warner Bros. isn't shying away from, and it's smart. Movies based on true events, particularly survival stories of human greatness, are always a good bet for the holiday movie crowd looking for movies with a bit more meaning and depth, but that it can still walk away from feeling good.
For that reason, the sheer spectacle of the battle and epic destruction the sailors faced has been prominent throughout the campaign, emphasizing even further the extreme odds against the survival of the brave crew of the Essex Nantucket. The sweeping, epic music of the trailers has also emphasized the vastness of scope and story.
And no other cast member has been put at the forefront like Chris Hemsworth, who is one of those rare, 4-quadrant actors who appeals to both women and men, both an older audience wanting to see a quality Ron Howard film and the young fanbase who will hopefully follow Hemsworth outside the Marvel universe. Triumph of the human spirit or Thor fighting a giant whale, it doesn't matter. Audience on both sides will be interested, thanks to the spectacle of the marketing campaign, and that should bear fruit.
In the Heart of the Sea is in theaters on Friday, December 11.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow (The CW)
The last nod in our weekly Marketing Spotlight isn't your typical marketing campaign, exactly, but The CW deserves a great deal of credit for the very smart way it has gone about building excitement for its upcoming Legends of Tomorrow spinoff from current ratings superstars The Flash and Arrow. The CW knows it has something great with the DC universe it's building, and it regularly relies on the idea of the interconnected universe to promote its shows.
But it leveled up with the approach of Legends of Tomorrow, set to premiere in January. Just in time for midseason ratings sweeps, the network had a much-hyped, two-part crossover event with Team Flash from Central City and Team Arrow from Star City. The storyline that will be the focus of Legends of Tomorrow was established in the crossover event, and the characters in the spinoff are ones fans are already familiar with, having already first appeared in the other two shows. By design, it's almost impossible that fans of The Flash and Arrow won't be tuning in to Legends, if only to see how the story, left on a cliffhanger in the crossover, unfolds. And using already established characters means there's a familiarity and brand awareness that ensures success. Fans know and trust these characters and want to see their story continue just as much as they want to see what happens with Barry Allen and Oliver Queen.
But if you're going to introduce a wholly new character, having him be played by fan favorite Doctor Who actor Arthur Darvill certainly can't hurt, either.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow premieres Thursday, January 21.