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, December 6-December 12.
X-Men: Apocalypse (20th Century Fox)
In the past few weeks, we've seen trailers drop for some of the biggest comic book movies releasing next year. Heading into a busy Thanksgiving weekend, Marvel released its first trailer for [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), then Warner Bros. was right behind them the next week with the second trailer for [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870). And this past week, Fox got into the game with its first trailer for [X-Men: Apocalypse](tag:1194267).
Most trailers are simply meant to build hype and introduce fans to the story anc characters. But with the first trailer for Apocalypse, Fox also addressed and put to rest the two major problems that had been dogging the film so far. First was that fan reaction to the first images released featuring titular villain, Apocalypse, were met with a lukewarm response, with many fans expressing concerns that Apocalypse seemed on the small side and didn't come across as the all-powerful, godlike mutant he was.
That was taken care of with the Apocalypse-centric first trailer, as his ancient powers and immortal deity status were put front and center. As a bonus, fans were reassured that Apocalypse would have the ability to grow monstrous in size as he does in the comics.
The second problem facing the marketing team behind Apocalypse was how to start phasing out Hugh Jackman as Wolverine as the face of the franchise, considering this is, in theory, his next to last film in the X-Men universe before he leaves for good. But the torch was clearly passed in the trailer: Wolverine was nowhere to be seen. The focus was put squarely on the young X-Men and mutants, led by Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). It was a clear statement by Fox, and a smart one: The X-Men franchise can stand on its own without the brand recognition of Jackman, as incredible as he's been in the role. It's time for a new class of mutants to take up the fight.
The Big Short (Paramount Pictures)
From the first moment you saw the cast line-up for Adam McKay's The Big Short, you knew there was something special with the script. Four seemingly perennial Academy Award nominees had joined the project in Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling, and two phenomenal Academy Award winners in Melissa Leo and Marisa Tomei.
The marketing campaign has focused on this, with the second trailer prominently displaying both positive feedback from critics, and making a point to emblazon the Academy Award angle in front of almost every cast member's name. It's a trailer that says, "Everyone who was anyone in Hollywood wanted to be a part of this movie and if you're anyone with great taste, you'll watch it, too."
With the movie gearing up for its release next week, the promo campaign has ramped up the critically-acclaimed, prestige angle of a film with lots of bankable faces while taking pains to make the characters charismatic and relatable to average viewers. It's a tactic that has already worked to great success for Paramount with 2013's similarly-themed The Wolf of Wall Street, which was also released during Christmas week and snagged five Academy Award nominations.
To that end, Paramount is taking a page from the success of that marketing campaign and hoping that an association between The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short will catapult the latter into equally serious Oscar contention. As long as Paramount keeps preaching the gospel of good critical buzz and keeping the stellar cast at the forefront of the campaign, The Big Short should score another holiday home run for Paramount.