Joel Wayne, ShoWest’s first honoree for Achievement in Motion Picture Advertising, has guided dozens of successful ad campaigns during his 22 years at Warner Bros. Three stand out as unique examples of his inventiveness:
No moviegoer can forget the stark bat logo that enigmatically signaled the arrival of this 1989 superhero smash.
“We had Jack Nicholson, we had Kim Basinger, we had this great cast and a terrific movie, but we figured, ‘Let’s just put the logo up there,'” Wayne remembers. “It was this arrogant stance and this bravado that made for such a breakthrough.”
Wayne credits the late Anton Furst, art director on “Batman,” with the initial idea to emphasize the bat image.
The logo-centric approach has been emulated many times since, most recently by Fox with summer’s “X-Men.”
The one-sheet for this high-grossing drama broke with tradition by using a photo of Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston that obscured their faces. Even Houston’s body wasn’t really her own — a double was shown in the arms of the protective Costner.
Most stars would not stand for being left in the shadows, but Wayne remembers Costner actually pushing for the photo.
“He loved it and he understood that it perfectly illustrated the mood of the movie,” Wayne says.
How do you sell the top-grossing star in the history of film? Out of focus, naturally.
Materials for the Harrison Ford chase film had a blurry quality, and showed him wearing an anxious look and running away from a speeding train. The copy sealed the concept: “A murdered wife. A one-armed man. An obsessed detective. The chase begins.”
Warner Bros. “didn’t sell him as a movie star,” Wayne says proudly.
Plus, he adds, a wealth of material shot for the trailer ended up in the final cut, including Tommy Lee Jones’ memorable exhortation for his FBI troops to search every “doghouse, henhouse and outhouse” for the on-the-lam Ford.