Planet Hollywood is placing its first bet on the dicey Vegas preem scene with “Resident Evil: Extinction.”
The celeb-backed chain, attempting to reinvent itself after well-publicized financial stumbles, has forged a month-long promotion with Screen Gems at its Vegas resort and casino, culminating in the movie’s Sept. 20 bow. The event — the first major bash since the casino’s soft launch in April — is the first of several preems slated for the resort this year.
The casino, a joint venture of Planet Hollywood CEO Robert Earl, Bay Harbour Management and Starwood Hotel, is located on the grounds of the former Aladdin casino. Its backers poured $1 billion into the makeover, which includes a cinema outfitted with digital projection. The resort hopes to use that — and its celeb connections — to entice even more preems and press junkets to the new digs.
“We’ve always been involved with premieres,” Earl said. “We just didn’t have the screening element.”
“They want to be the Hollywood of Vegas,” said Marc Weinstock, Screen Gems exec VP of marketing.
He said Screen Gems cooked up a Sin City preem because a major portion of the third installment in the “Resident Evil” franchise is set in a post-apocalyptic Vegas. Sony’s genre arm spent eight to 10 months planning the promotion, which includes a ticket giveaway, an in-room channel devoted to behind-the-scenes footage of the movie and sweepstakes for a BMW motorcycle.
Two 30-story banners have been flying outside the casino the past two weeks and will stay in place until the Sept. 20 bow, which stars Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Oded Fehr, Ashanti and Mike Epps, who are all skedded to attend.
“Usually, premieres are just premieres, but this is an integrated promotion with a premiere,” Weinstock said.
“We like to think we’re in the marketing world, so we’re fully embracing these movies,” Earl said. “We’re giving it over to the movies.”
Planet Hollywood will be vying with the Palms casino for Vegas preems. The Maloof brothers, who run the Palms, also vowed their casino would rake in the bows, but its impact on the preem scene has been minimal.
Earl brushed aside logistical concerns about ferrying stars to and from Vegas for events.
“One thing about Planet Hollywood is we’re very celeb friendly, and celebrities love being among their fans,” Earl said. “The energy level we create on red carpets is incredible.”
Planet Hollywood has gone through its ups and downs as a brand since its 1991 launch with the backing of Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone. The outfit expanded into a chain of restaurants before running into financial problems and eventual bankruptcy eight years later.