Relativity Media has openly staked its future on a global mantra, backing films with broad, worldwide appeal largely financed via foreign pre-sales. So what to make of “Act of Valor,” an all-American actioner starring active-duty Navy SEALs?
Though such a clear heartland play might seem a departure, the studio said it’s sticking to its overseas guns, courting sports nuts, action-movie fanboys and especially hardcore gamers as potential auds — regardless of their country of origin.
“When we first saw this movie, we put ourselves on a diet — it’s men, it’s action — and we had to be really diligent not to get distracted in our advertising,” said Terry Curtin, Relativity’s theatrical marketing prexy.
The $12 million pic, acquired by Relativity for $13 million, is tracking very strongly with males but is virtually nonexistent with female auds. Opening domestic B.O. is expected to fall between the mid-teens and upwards of $20 million.
Though Relativity knows that Middle America will be essential to the success of “Act of Valor,” its execs said the company didn’t put any special marketing efforts there, beyond a word-of-mouth campaign and screening program.
“It was kind of a secondary or tertiary target for us,” Curtin said. “We’ve never really advertised any differently to the heartland states than to our other audiences. Where you’re seeing a lot of heartland traction is in our publicity, as we’ve tended to attract more military and conservative press … but our goal is to sell this as an entertainment experience.”
And it’s one that Relativity hopes will translate across borders, despite its star-spangled overtones.
“It obviously is a more domestic movie in the sense that there’s a love of America in it,” said Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh. “And part of it is that — a core of America that nobody’s ever seen, and reminding people of what we are. But, that being said — and it’s even surprising to me — a lot of our foreign partners felt this is going to be a huge foreign movie.”
Rachel Cadden, Relativity’s exec VP of marketing in charge of foreign marketing, said the U.K. is shaping up to be the pic’s No. 1 foreign market, and release dates are already set in 21 territories through a combination of preset output deals and individual sales — with more to come.
Selling the pic’s authenticity to gamers is Relativity’s top priority.
“It’s like watching a first-person shooter game,” Cadden said. “No matter what country it is, everyone is interested in seeing real Navy SEALs.”