September 28, 2023

How can a movie be marketed without stars? A PR dilemma during an actors’ strike

Bringing a film to market has inherent challenges, but doing so without the charismatic protagonist to promote the film to the press circuit adds another hurdle – as the teams behind a growing number of recent titles have learned, or will soon do when the SAG-AFTRA actors’ strike begins in Hollywood.

that of Netflix They cloned Tyrone The premiere event took place in Los Angeles ahead of the film’s July 21 release, but was without star Jamie Foxx, who has been largely out of the public eye since his daughter announced in April that he was recovering after being hospitalized for an undisclosed health problem. Other stars have been absent from the red carpet lately for a variety of reasons: Jonah Hill cited mental health issues when he refused to promote Netflix’s You peoplewhile Ezra Miller did not speak to the media for Warner Bros.’ The flash after a flurry of headlines about the star’s personal life.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

Meanwhile, the ongoing writers’ strike has kept a number of well-known creatives from competing for their work — including Barbie co-writer Noah Baumbach skips the film’s premiere in support of the Writers Guild of America — and has late-night TV interviews and SNL as a promotional tool. The SAG-AFTRA strike threatens to make options even more limited, and talent from this month’s high-profile releases grabbed every last chance. Actors of Oppenheimer And Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning part one were still conducting previously scheduled press interviews on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the strike that began early Friday.

“Jamie is clearly not in our midst, and we certainly feel the difference,” They cloned Tyrone says producer Stephen Love The Hollywood Reporter, before the SAG-AFTRA strike began. “But at the same time he’s such a legend, and he’s so acclaimed, that as long as he’s in the movie, people still feel his presence when they see it and see the marketing of the movie.”

A press trip is just one weapon in a movie’s marketing arsenal, but it’s considered an important one. When Roamsplanned release date for June was pushed back to August 18, a potential upside was that the delay would allow time for the WGA standoff with the AMPTP to resolve in hopes the late night could help promote the risqué comedy starring Foxx, Will Ferrell, Isla Fisher and others voicing a group of dogs. Unfortunately, the end is not in sight, although insiders hoped that Foxx will participate in some press moments for it Roams.

“It is essential that lead actors do their required publicity tour in support of their film, period,” said Jason E. Squire, professor emeritus at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and podcast host. The movie business, noting that medical reasons are an important exception. “This is an example of Hollywood balance, where it’s good for the movie and it’s good for the artist. It improves the artist’s career to talk about the work and it brings the artist to the attention of the media world.”

Promoting a movie without the star isn’t necessarily a new dilemma. Russell Schwartz, an associate professor at Chapman University, recalls several campaigns dealing with such a problem during his time as president of marketing for New Line. One was for 2005 The New World, as press-averse Terrence Malick’s feature was also without the support of stars Colin Farrell and Christian Bale after Farrell entered rehab weeks before release. The film’s team switched to a limited, Oscar-qualifying run at the end of the year before going wide in February, but the absences were palpable. “We sort of [lost] our moment,” says Schwartz. “It was a tough one.”

His team had to use a different strategy to navigate 2006 The Christmas story because of the real pregnancy of Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 16-year-old actress who plays the Virgin Mary. Schwartz recalls that most of the press opportunities shifted to director Catherine Hardwicke and the then-unknown Oscar Isaac, who portrayed Joseph, in addition to a heavier focus on the IP itself. But for original movies like They cloned Tyrone or Roams, there is no ingrained familiarity to lean on. (Streamers like Netflix, in particular, tend to put less marketing power into titles than traditional studios.)

In the following years, social media has become more popular and added a tool to reach viewers. Albert Lieberman, the founder of Gray Entertainment who worked on marketing campaigns for Warner Bros. franchises such as Batman and Harry Potter, points out that Foxx Tyrone trailer on Instagram last month to his 17 million Instagram followers as a way for a star to influence consciousness. It’s unclear whether the post effectively drew attention to the movie itself, as many of the user’s comments noted similarities between the premise – about conspiracy theories surrounding an apparent cloning experiment – and the flurry of rumors about the actor’s real-life recovery .

Amid the writers’ strike, marketers had to double down on less conventional platforms. For Sony’s bawdy recent comedy No hard feelingsthis meant Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t just to be booked on Bravo’s Watch what’s happening live but also YouTube’s chat-with-wings show hot. “Even if there were shows late at night, I would try to get Jennifer to work hot”, says Schwartz, noting that the program “is likely to provide a lot more conversation for the next day anyway” than a standard visit to one of the Jimmys.

Still, the debate about the box office impact of a press trip continues in light of The flash underperforming. “It’s always a question of whether the star’s appeal translates into dollars,” says Schwartz, noting that the film’s main appeal stems from the DC Comics brand. “Would Ezra’s participation really do anything? I don’t necessarily attribute to that.” And Comscore box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian points out that the press moments most likely to impact a project’s bottom line tend to come from top names like Tom Cruise: “The higher the star power, the greater the impact. .”

When asked if Miller’s lack of participation hurt The flash‘s finances, Lieberman offers some truth about a marketer’s plight: “The one thing nobody’s ever been able to overcome is a movie people don’t like.”

Whether the actors’ strike will provide additional pivots remains to be seen. After leading Hollywood PR agencies were briefed by SAG-AFTRA earlier this week to emphasize that actors will not be available to promote their projects, a publicist joked to THR“Time to contract influencers.”

Anaja Smith and Mia Galuppo contributed reporting.

The best of The Hollywood Reporter

Click here to read the full article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *