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Tentpole Marketing Campaigns Focus on Concept Images Rather Than Stars

Marketing materials including teasers, one-sheets, posters don't play up highly paid cast

With marketing costs for summer tentpoles continuing to balloon, it seems like studios would want to push their expensive stars into filmgoers’ faces early and often.

Instead, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Matt Damon are largely absent from the teasers for “World War Z”; “The Lone Ranger” and “Elysium” — and that’s by design.

 

On early one-sheets for three of the studios’ biggest bets, the stars either weren’t recognizable or weren’t pictured at all. Universal took a similar approach with Tom Cruise starrer “Oblivion.”

The idea is to sell a film initially based on a concept, says Par domestic marketing and distrib prexy Megan Colligan.

“That indelible first-look image is important to establish a certain tone,” she says. “By the time we open the doors, there will be no question that Brad Pitt is the star of this movie. It’s more about being iconic.”

“World War Z” features a striking image of a helicopter being pulled down by zombies; “Lone Ranger” depicts a masked image of Depp, while “Elysium” shows only Damon’s back.

 

Overseas, however, marketing campaigns still rely heavily on star power. And while Warner Bros. has no major star wattage in “Pacific Rim,” the studio created country-specific posters that feature the film’s local alien-fighting robots.

“People love the personal relationships they can have with characters,” Colligan says. “In the end, audiences know how they relate.”

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