You may have noticed that movie theatres are more crowded than usual this summer. In an attempt to boost box office sales, Hollywood packed some of the year’s biggest blockbusters into the summer months – including Iron Man 3, which is set at Christmas time.
The gamble appears to have worked, because Iron Man 3, along with Fast and Furious 6 and Star Trek: Into Darkness helped make this past May the best May ever for the movie industry – and summer didn’t officially start until June 21.
While most of these films have earned decent reviews, at least part of their success comes down to good marketing. From innovative partnerships to branded content, Hollywood is getting creative with its promotional campaigns and it’s paying off.
Man of Steel – 100 brand partners, from razors to pastors
Released: June 14
Worldwide opening: $200 million
Record: Best June opening in cinema history
In order to promote the latest Superman film, Warner Bros. studio partnered with more than 100 brands, including Gillette.
Through ads on television, in theatres and online, the razor brand is asking audiences, “How does Superman shave?”
Superman fans can vote for one of four “theories” proposed by celebrity “experts” on Gillette’s YouTube channel (director Kevin Smith posits that Superman uses a piece of his spaceship to shave).
In an unlikely move, Warner Bros. studio also partnered with churches by arranging screenings for pastors, supplying churches with film clips and even drafting sermons linking the Superman myth to Jesus.
Star Trek Into Darkness – Engaging Trekkers through space and tech
Released: May 16
Worldwide opening: $165 million
Star Trek is all about exploring “the final frontier,” so Paramount joined forces with NASA to promote the latest prequel. The film’s cast and crew, along with astronauts aboard the International Space Station, hosted a Google+ Hangout to answer fans’ questions submitted using the hashtag #askNASA.
Paramount also partnered with Acer, the electronics company, to create the “Explore Beyond Limits” campaign, which featured online videos, out-of-home advertising, and digital and print ads promoting both the Star Trek movie and select Acer products.
Monsters University – Expanding the story world
Released: June 21
Worldwide opening: $137 million
Record: Second-biggest opening for a Pixar film (behind Toy Story 3)
Pixar took a content marketing approach to get people interested in the world of Monsters University months before its release by launching a mock university website that looks just like a real one.
The site features a list of classes and faculties, a campus map, a university handbook, a shop that sells four-armed hoodies, an activity feed and more.
The “Dean’s Message” video featured on the website was aired during the Rose Bowl, an American football game, to attract the attention of teens who loved the original Monsters, Inc., released in 2001.
Fast and Furious 6 – Targeting Spanish-speaking moms
Released: May 24
Worldwide opening: $317 million
Record: Earned $500 million internationally faster than any other Universal Studio’s picture
For the sixth installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, Universal Studios decided to target an audience as diverse as the film’s cast, particularly Spanish-speaking and female viewers.
Cast members made an appearance at the Billboard Latin Music Awards and the movie trailer was aired during Spanish-language soap operas in the United States.
The plan seems to have worked: Latinos made up 32 percent of the opening weekend’s audience, which also saw an increase in female viewership from 44 percent (for the fifth film) to 49 percent.
Iron Man 3 – A Hollywood premiere in China
Released: May 3
Worldwide opening: $370 million
Record: Second-biggest debut ever (behind The Avengers)
China has the second-largest cinema market in the world, so it’s no accident that Marvel Studios held the world premiere of Iron Man 3 in Beijing’s Forbidden City. It was the first time a Hollywood movie had been launched in the Chinese capital.
Marvel even created a special Chinese version of the action film, featuring an extra scene and a new Asian character.
This might help explain why Iron Man 3 earned more on its opening weekend internationally than it did in the States.
The Great Gatsby – Showcasing style with OOH ads and luxury brands
Released: May 10
Worldwide opening: $94 million
To showcase The Great Gatsby’s unique visuals, Warner Bros. put up dozens of billboards, bus shelters and bus sides in New York and Los Angeles featuring dazzling stills from the film.
The studio also partnered with luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co. and Brooks Brothers to create original Gatsby collections.
Thanks in part to the Gatsby tie-in, Tiffany & Co. earned higher than expected sales this year in its first quarter. Meanwhile, Gatsby was director Baz Luhrmann’s first film to earn more than $100 million in the States.
In other words, it’s clear that The Great Gatsby’s partner brands helped sell the movie, while the movie helped sell its partner brands. How’s that for a Hollywood ending?