ByAlisha Grauso, writer at
Editor-at-large here at Movie Pilot. Nerd out with me on Twitter, comrades: @alishagrauso
Alisha Grauso

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, January 18-24.

The Finest Hours (Disney)

Lately, there have been quite a few "based on a true story" films in theaters, but that's par for the course through the holidays and the post-holiday slump. They always tend to do well at this time of year, and Disney is the undisputed king of crowd-pleasing adaptations inspired by true events. The Finest Hours looks to be yet another moving if somewhat formulaic feather in its cap, with the marketing taking a page straight out of what we have recently seen with In the Heart of the Sea.

To that end, the marketing has focused heavily on the bravery of the men involved on both sides of the rescue operation, both the crew aboard the sinking oil tanker and the small crew from the Coast Guard who piloted through one of the worst storms ever in New England's history to rescue them.

Something about man vs. the sea has always captivated us, and the marketing for The Finest Hours caters heavily to that, heavily relying on the spectacle of huge, crashing waves tossing the small boat about. As the most formidable adversary to mankind, you can't get much more grand than the sea. It's tailor-made for epic tales of human courage and visual spectacle, and Disney has been heavily banking on this. A bit formulaic? Yes. But it's a formula that works.

The Finest Hours is in theaters on Friday, January 29th.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (Fox)

With the marketing for Kung Fu Panda 3, Fox has taken a rule of thumb approach: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. What's worked in the past for the Kung Fu Panda franchise, which has been quite successful as far as animated feature film franchises go is what is working now: Stick the trailer in front of family-friendly movies and make sure the silly humor is front and center.

But it's been five years since Kung Fu Panda 2, and animation has made leaps forward in that time. So Fox has also made a point to showcase the genuinely beautiful visuals in the marketing material.

As this is aimed toward a very young audience, the marketing has also made a point to walk a fine line with its villain, Kai. Making him overly scary may turn off a young audience, so while the trailers make a point to let the audience know he is indeed a very bad guy, his showcased lines have been played for a lot of laughs. It's been five years in the making, but Kung Fu Panda 3 should find itself with a respectable box office take, particularly as it's been a while since we've gotten a family-friendly animated film in theaters.

Kung Fu Panda 3 hits theaters on Friday, January 29th.


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