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.
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.
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.