Sometimes it pays not to follow the recipe. Marketing brainstorms have helped Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” grow impressive box office, with different strategies building on each other like the layers of a Dobos torte. Fox Searchlight co-toppers Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley credit the filmmaker’s unique visual style and meticulous attention to detail. “ ‘Budapest’ allows you to immerse yourself in a completely different world,” Utley tells Variety, noting five elements that have made the film a hit.
1) Anderson’s World
The director’s eye for detail is a merchandiser’s dream. “Budapest” features a collection on eBay, a partnership initiated by actor and frequent Anderson collaborator Waris Ahluwalia (whose own fashion label is House of Waris). The film’s production designer Adam Stockhausen also curated an art collection inspired by the film. Auction items range from bow ties and moustache wax to promotional materials from the pic. Some are selling out, including copies of “The Society of the Crossed Keys,” Anderson’s book of selections from the writings of Stefan Zweig, which inspired the film.
2) Unique Promotions
Fox Searchlight is touring a large-scale model of the hotel in theaters from Hollywood to Berlin. And U.K.-based Secret Cinema, a monthly gathering that combines live performances involving audience participation, recently screened “Budapest” instead of its usual classic fare. The film already has grossed nearly $15 million in Blighty.
3) Viral Chow
Fox Searchlight created instructional featurettes detailing how to create baked goods inspired by the film’s colorful Mendl’s pastries. The videos went viral as fans sent back footage of their creations, which Searchlight used in TV spots on cooking networks. The distrib shot eight marketing shorts, including a profile of the film’s central character, M. Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes.
Thanks to the success of 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” Gilula says Anderson’s fans have gotten significantly younger. “He’s attracted a whole new generation, some of whom weren’t even born when ‘Royal Tenenbaums’ (2001) and ‘Bottle Rocket’ (1996) were released,” the exec notes.
5) Universal Access
Cool marketing would mean little if the film itself were poorly received. However, “Budapest” has generated a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — behind only Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Critics have called “Budapest” his most accessible film. “We don’t see the ceiling yet,” Gilula says.