How Legendary is Trying to Turn Around Troubling Tracking for ‘Pacific Rim’

How Legendary is Trying Turn Around

New TV spots, online featurettes stress everything from the humans to the humor in 'Pacific Rim'

Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. had a big problem on their hands last week: Low tracking numbers for “Pacific Rim” – the last thing any producer wants to see before releasing an expensive summer movie.

The numbers proved to be a surprise, given that Legendary has been courting genre fans for nearly a year since introducing footage of the Guillermo del Toro-helmed monster mash-up at last summer’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Legendary needed to. “Pacific Rim” isn’t based on an established property and “kaiju” isn’t on the tip of everyone’s tongue, especially in the U.S.

SEE ALSO: Universal, Legendary Pair Up in New Five-Year Deal

With around 70% of the film’s marketing budget still to be spent, as of last week, and well before the film’s cast, including Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba hit the talkshow circuit —  Legendary and WB are showing just how they aim to turn around early so-so perceptions and get moviegoers excited about the $180 million epic that was developed as a potential new film franchise.

SEE ALSO: Is ‘Pacific Rim’ Doomed to Be This Year’s ‘Battleship’?

Whether any of the new TV spots, online featurettes or social media pushes will pay off at the box office on July 12 remains to be seen. But for now, the latest effort is providing marketers with an interesting case study.

SPOTLIGHT THE HUMANS:
Oh, yes, there are people in “Pacific Rim,” and a series of new featurettes emphasize the human characters over the robots or monsters, with an exclusive clip provided to MTV highlighting two of the main characters played by Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi.

Another sequence, given to Yahoo! Movies, features a scene between Hunnam and Elba:


HYPE THE SHOCK AND AWE:

New materials stress the sheer scope and scale of “Pacific Rim,” with footage, behind-the-scenes features and photos flooding Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and blogs discussing the world and creative decisions behind the film. Filmmakers clearly want moviegoers to have the same reaction that Elba’s character has, when he dramatically proclaims in one TV spot: “I’ve. Never. Seen anything like that.” There are now 11 TV spots produced for the film that are airing worldwide, with more expected to follow as the release date quickly approaches.

EMPHASIZE THE HUMOR:
In a viral video, Ron Perlman is in character enthusiastically promoting organs, tissue and bodily fluids collected from the Kaiju monsters as ways to lose weight, look younger, beat cancer, prevent heart attacks and strokes, cure insomnia and reverse balding. “Just because the apocalypse is here doesn’t mean you can’t look and feel your best,” he says.

PAY RESPECT TO “INDEPENDENCE DAY”:
It’s tough not to think of “Independence Day” when you see footage of jet fighters attacking aliens and hear leaders giving dramatic speeches to boost spirits. And that’s just fine. “Independence Day” was a massive hit, and a sequel is coming.

EXPLAIN WHAT’S AT STAKE:
At first glance, “Pacific Rim” looks like a “Power Rangers”-style battle between giant robots and monsters, with little else going for it. But Legendary’s nearly four-minute “Under Attack” featurette better explains why nations around the world had to build the giant ‘bots in order to deal with the attacking beasts.

WHAT’S A JAEGER?
Knowing that there still was some confusion as to what the movie is about, Legendary and WB released a four-minute featurette in which Del Toro details the conceit behind the film’s Jaeger Mech Warriors and how the human race needs them to battle the Kaiju monsters.

WHICH LEADS TO … WHAT’S A KAIJU?
Del Toro is featured in a separate three-minute video explaining the design process behind the monsters and the threat they pose to cities around the world.

ENLIST THE BLOGOSPHERE:
With many a blogger already behind the film, Legendary turned to sites like IGN to educate their fans on the robots in the film, asking followers to design their own Jaegers. “Pacific Rim’s” website also has a microsite for visitors to design their own Jaegers.

GET CELEBRITIES TO SUPPORT THE FILM:
Kanye West recently tweeted that he got to see an early screening of “Pacific Rim” and praised the pic.

Legendary also screened the film for videogame design icon Hideo Kojima, behind Konami’s popular “Metal Gear” franchise, who let loose a long list of tweets in support of the film. Among his thoughts:

Not bad at all for Del Toro, who has long said “Pacific Rim” is his love letter to Japanese monster movies.


AND WHEN IN DOUBT, SHOW SOME SKIN:

To court more than just fanboys, Legendary and WB released several official photos of a shirtless Hunnam from the film, knowing that in order for “Pacific Rim” to perform at the B.O. it also needs women to show up.

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  1. Stop with the expensive marketing and do free (-ish) stuff. Facebook, twitter etc.

    Also, tracking doesn’t necessarily predict what people will do. It depends what else is showing, what the weather is like on opening weekend and a whole host of other factors.

    Maybe spend some effort trying to show that this isn’t just the same as Godzilla/Transformers/ID4 etc.

  2. When I see the trailer, I see a Summer Blockbuster being advertised, I don’t see a GDT film being advertised. If they would have stuck to the human story of the film in the trailers, while reminding the audience that GDT did films like Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, I think they would have resonated more.

    I trust GDT and will definitely see the film on opening weekend in 3D, but I sincerely hope that there is more to the film than fighting – I suspect there is – because that’s the reason people beyond fans of the genres will connect to it.

    • James says:

      From what I’ve gathered, the major battles of the film don’t even really take place until the middle, and end of the movie. The human element is very important to the film, but the acting may leave some to be desired.

  3. Andrew11 says:

    I’m sure Del Toro’s brand of dumb explosions will be much more entertaining than most, but I think most people are tired of such nonsense. Well, I wish they were, anyway…

    This movie is severely lacking in star power. Not a big deal to me, but when you don’t have any big names to put in those trailers…

  4. Joe says:

    I saw the trailer this past weekend, and I had two immediate reactions: 1) The movie looked like a Michael Bay yawner, with no humanity and only special effects to hold our interest (which doesn’t work well with the over 14 crowd), and 2) Why do the people have to (apparently) go inside their robots? I mean, we have guys piloting drones 14,000 miles away – it seems like if the people/robots are going to fight the bad things (whatever they are), they would be doing it in a chair in a bunker somewhere safe. This is not nitpicking: it is an example of either sloppy trailer editing or another example of producers deciding that the script is the least important component in film making.

    Okay, one more issue with the trailer: it went on forever. If your movie is weak, don’t telegraph that information by giving us an overly long trailer with so many jump cuts that even if there is a story there, no one can discern it. If your movie is decent, then stop making it look like the Transformers and Godzilla had a love child. The trailer just shouted, “dumb, dumb, dumb.”

    • Jester says:

      Yeah this guy’s totally right, guys!! He must know what the heck he’s talkin’ about, because of the plethora of movie trailers he’s cut, and big box office smashes he’s produced! Come on fellas! Toro’s failed us, so time to go back to watching Transformers 16, and Fast & Furious 12, and the Terminator reboot! Anything else just shouts Dumb, Dumb, Dumb!

  5. Leslie says:

    Slight error: Metal Gear is a Konami franchise, not a Square-Enix franchise. Nice to mention Kojima. His style is based upon his love of American films.

  6. Dan Humphrey says:

    I see a pretty wide range of movies in the theater, everything from indie films like THE EAST to big Hollywood dramas like THE GREAT GATSBY and popcorn movies like STAR TREK and WORLD WAR Z, and I haven’t seen a trailer for PACIFIC RIM once. I saw the trailer for IRON MAN 3 at least a dozen times before that opened. Maybe part of the problem is this weird lack of trailer play.

  7. The Kingslayer says:

    I can’t wait to see Pacific Rim, it looks entertaining and I usually love GDT’s movies.

  8. Fuel Cell Phone says:

    Personally, going to like this movie, being a fan of mecha anime for many many years.
    Will watch at least 2 times on Imax like Avatar :-)

  9. Matt says:

    I was actually excited about this movie until I saw the trailer. Someone needs to get fired because that is a clusterfuck of a trailer that looks like its for a show on the sci-fi channel.

  10. In a word “overexposure”. By the time they show it, everyone will feel like they’ve already seen it, or worse yet, are sick of it and don’t want to. They should NOT have shown the robots or the scale and relied on buzz after it opened. Just one opinion.

  11. Pete Moss says:

    The idea to put out a huge summer blockbuster every weekend isn’t very smart.

    With ticket prices over $10 in most areas and the core target audience being teenagers (who don’t have a ton of money to begin with), its inevitable that by the first week of July their demographic is going to be forced to be more selective and they likely will not chose a new IP over an established franchise.

    So films like The Wolverine and Kick-ass 2 will do fine. But a film like Pacific Rim or Elysium are fighting an uphill battle to convince people to see their films.

    Not saying Pacific Rim or Elysium will be bombs, but they won’t bring in Iron Man 3 money. And sadly, studios will probably see this as an even bigger reason to only make sequels and remakes.

  12. There is a spark missing from all the marketing. Fanboys are all a tingle but they felt similarly about very good genre films like Serenity and Slither. Both underperformed and with far less investment at stake. Hunan is an unproven lead, the “canceling the apocalypse” speech they keep showing is not very inspiring and it looks like a badly lit Transformers meets Godzilla…..without having either of those franchise’s brand to lean on. Will Smith wasn’t the movie star he is today when ID4 came came out, but he was a recognizable one along with most of the cast. That movie also boasted some hugely iconic images in the trailer (like the White House destruction) and Smith’s charisma. There isn’t really anything like that in the Pacific Rim trailers. It very well could be a good movie, but it just feels like it will be a middling performer…of course I also thought that Avatar looked too silly for words and that it wouldn’t do huge numbers so I obviously could be very wrong. On the other hand Cameron had already directed the highest grossing movie of all time (Titanic, yeesh) and Del Toro has no financial successes anywhere near that scale.

  13. Looks like a fun movie, but also derivative of so many others in so many ways. The stick fight (Matrix); the robots (Transformers, obviously); the alien invasion (take your pick); the “off-world sensibility (Blade Runner)… nothing really new. Doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to watch. I like movies like this. I liked “Battleship” (on cable). What I really wonder is if this is yet another big movie functioning as conditioning for the public, related to the idea of an actual (and real) extraterrestrial arrival.

    • imccombe says:

      I never really understood this argument. Yeah, it has components of other films. You can make that argument for any film. Terminator and Back to the Future both have time travel, must be the same film! Midnight Cowboy and Deuce Bigelow. Same film. It’s not the same, get over it.

      • @duder it’s not calculated from GDT part. He is a movie fans. All what was mentioned is what he is a fan of. Would it be better he tried to make a movie no one likes?

      • Duder NME says:

        Duece Bigelow had no aspirations of becoming the next Avengers-killer. What he described was a melange of audience pleasing tropes thrown into a calculative mixture to appease the lowest of denominators, which could backfire on Legendary. And what is with the webbernetz telling everyone to “get over it”? There’s no “it” to “get over”.

  14. Paul Lane says:

    Japanese Anime could leap a high hurdle if this film kills.
    On the other hand this if movie is too cool (as expected by Otaku everywhere), it runs the risk of flying over the heads of the local yokels. I will be there day 1.

  15. David says:

    Charlie Hunnam looks like a young Brad Pitt

  16. Jennifer says:

    I can barely sit still in the theatre during the preview, of which I seen 4 times in a week! I am so damn excited to see this movie!!! How are more people not excited about a movie that us pathetic meatsacs actually create something useful to save ourselves?! It is just what you want in the summer blockbuster.
    And for those who compare it to “Battleship” I say IT’S A MOVIE LIGHTEN UP AND ENJOY!!! I love Battleship by the way. :)

  17. Cody says:

    It looks like Transformers v Godzilla, which is probably how it was pitched… The problem is, nobody cares.

  18. Fernando says:

    The trailer looks absolutely terrible. It’s certain to flop.

  19. Susie says:

    The movie looks great and the story is compelling. It’s going to be a big hit.

  20. Peggy says:

    Who or what is a Humnam? Is he another Australian actor? Never heard of him. Is this movie for Japanese comic book fans or everybody? IT’S TOO DAMN DARK LOOKING. LIKE GODZILLA, which I liked, but not everyone else did. If movies are just going to be made for foreign markets don’t use US money on them. Invest in American movies. That is all.

    • Hunnam is a little obscure but is the main lead of the Sons of Anarchy TV series on FX. He’s done a lot of other things in the UK. And, you have a right to your views, but the studios are global companies. They are investing in American moviemaking, which just so happens to require success in foreign markets in this day and age. We can’t have such a myopic view anymore.

  21. EK says:

    This damage control is in overdrive and, in sereval instances, actually highlighhts the negatives. With nothing to really hang its emotional hat on, the audience is now being bombarded with explainations that the film itself needs to supply, not and endless barage of defensive posts and spots, some of which conflict with the message of another. The campaign is now more of a mess than before, although there obviously has to be som work done or it’s “The Lone Rnger” all over again.

    • Respectfully, I think you’re completely wrong. This movie is going to get strong crossover from both the general summer movie and the thriller/horror crowd and probably open to a solid $40M in the States. This is going to be panned as a bust, while everyone ignores the fact that international, and specifically Asian, audiences have been waiting decades for Hollywood to produce a competent Kaiju move. I predict this movie goes $300M internationally over the first month, which is more than break even, and gains enough rental/PPV viewership to sustain a sold franchise, albeit at a lower budget than this first attempt.

      • Duder NME says:

        How is he wrong? You’ve just stated the number that will sink the film domestically, which compounds his reasoning. This ill-advised, super-roided ad campaign will be America-centric. The international market will indeed be this film’s only savior at a chance towards franchise potential.

  22. Michel Tol says:

    Besides the fact that Pacific Rim looks supremely stupid, I’m failing to understand how I’m going to be awed if I’ve seen every single shot of the movie in one of fifty featurettes and trailers.

  23. En says:

    Pg13 is the downfall of Hollywood. All these movies suck when pg13. Between all comic movies young adult movies and horror movies all being pg13 its created a slew of crap. This movie is just continuing that trend. If Hollywood was smart they would stick to G movies and rated R movies.

    • Jason says:

      I’m going to have to disagree with you there, En. The top four domestic grossing films of all time (Avatar, Titanic, The Avengers, and The Dark Knight), all are at the PG-13 rating. PG-13 is the catch-all, a buffet of movies where just about anyone can find something they like. If Hollywood did indeed split the G/R ratings, they would have immediately shunted their audiences into those categories. Aside from a few outliers (Family films that bring in parents and kids, and break out R rated hits like The Hangover) G and R rated movies make vastly less than PG-13 movies when compared side-by-side. And so Hollywood will continue to make movies that sell and, like it or not, it is trending more and more PG-13.

      • It continues to intrigue me, this so-called top “domestic grossing films of all time”…because the dollar amount does not speak to the number of people who have actually gone into a theater to see these movies; in other words, top grossing is obtuse of “ticket sales” or actual tickets sold at the wickets.

        For example, the most tickets purchased for any James Bond movie are the ones sold for THUNDERBALL. The most tickets sold for any film? GONE WITH THE WIND.

        Don’t let the money fool you.

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