How can a film without stars be marketed?  A public relations dilemma among the striking actors

How can a film without stars be marketed? A public relations dilemma among the striking actors

Marketing a film comes with inherent challenges, but doing so without the charismatic leadership to promote it on the print circuit adds yet another hurdle – as the teams behind a growing number of recent titles have learned, or soon will as SAG’s actors’ strike – AFTRA begins in Hollywood.

By Netflix They cloned Tyrone The first event took place in Los Angeles ahead of the film’s July 21 release, but it was without star Jamie Foxx, who has been largely out of the public eye since her daughter announced in April that she was recovering. after being hospitalized for an undisclosed health issue. Other stars have been absent from the red carpet recently for different reasons: Jonah Hill cited mental health issues in refusing to promote Netflix You peoplewhile Ezra Miller has not spoken to the media for Warner Bros.’ The flash after a wave of headlines about the star’s personal life.

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Meanwhile, the ongoing writers’ strike has kept some great creatives from standing in the way of their work, including Barbie co-writer Noah Baumbach skipped the film’s premiere in support of the Writers Guild of America – and took away late night television interviews and SNL as promotional tools. The SAG-AFTRA strike threatens to make options even more limited, and the talent in this month’s high-profile releases were grabbing every last opportunity. Actors from Oppenheimer AND Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, first part they were still carrying out their previously scheduled press interviews on Wednesday and Thursday before the strike started early Friday.

“Obviously Jamie isn’t among us, and we definitely feel the difference,” They cloned Tyrone says producer Stephen Love The Hollywood Reporter, before the SAG-AFTRA strike started. “But at the same time, he’s such a legend, and he’s so celebrated, that as long as he’s in the movie, when people see him and they see the marketing of the movie, they still feel his presence.”

A press tour is just one weapon in a film’s marketing arsenal, but it’s considered an important one. When StraysSlated June release date moved up to August 18, one potential benefit was that the delay would allow WGA deadlock with AMPTP to be resolved in hopes the late night could help promote racy comedy starring Foxx, Will Ferrell , Isla Fisher and others voicing a group of dogs. Sadly, there’s no end in sight, though insiders were hoping Foxx would participate in some press opportunities Strays.

“It’s essential that key stars do their required publicity tour in support of their film, period,” says USC School of Cinematic Arts professor emeritus and podcast host Jason E. Squire The movie businesswhile noting that medical reasons are an important exception. “This is an example of the Hollywood balance, where it’s good for the film and good for the artist. Enhance the career of the artist to talk about the work and bring the artist to the attention of the media world.

Promoting a film without the star isn’t necessarily a new dilemma. Russell Schwartz, an associate professor at Chapman University, recalls numerous campaigns addressing this issue during his time as president of marketing for New Line. One was for 2005 The new world, as Terrence Malick’s press-averse feature was also without the support of stars Colin Farrell and Christian Bale after Farrell checked into rehab weeks before release. The film’s team moved to a limited run for an Oscar qualifier at the end of the year before expanding in February, but the absences were felt. “We’ve kind of (missed) our moment,” Schwartz says. “It was hard.”

His team had to adopt a different strategy to navigate 2006 The Story of the Nativity due to the real-life pregnancy of Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 16-year-old actress who plays the Virgin Mary. Schwartz recalls that most of the press opportunities went to director Catherine Hardwicke and then-unknown Oscar Isaac, who played Joseph, as well as increased attention for the IP itself. But for original movies like They cloned Tyrone OR Strays, there is no crushed familiarity to lean on. (In particular, streamers like Netflix tend to put less marketing clout into titles than traditional studios.)

Subsequent years brought the prevalence of social media, adding an asset to reach viewers. Albert Lieberman, the founder of Gray Entertainment who has worked on marketing campaigns for Warner Bros. franchises such as Batman and Harry Potter, points out that Foxx shares the Tyron trailer on Instagram last month to her 17 million Instagram followers as one way a star can influence awareness. It’s unclear whether the post actually called attention to the film itself, as many of the user comments noted similarities between the premise – about conspiracy theories surrounding an apparent cloning experiment – and the flurry of recovery-focused rumors in the film. real life of the actor.

Amid the writers’ strike, marketers have had to double down on less conventional platforms. For Sony’s recent ribald comedy Without hard feelingsthat meant booking Jennifer Lawrence not just at Bravo’s Watch What’s Happening Live but also the YouTube show Chatting with Wings The hot ones. “Even if there were late night shows, I would try to bring Jennifer on The hot ones‘ says Schwartz, who notes that the program ‘still probably gets a lot more conversation the next day’ than a standard visit to one of the Jimmys.

Still, talk of the box office impact of a press tour continues in light of The flash underperforming. “It’s always debatable whether star attraction translates into dollars,” Schwartz says, noting that the film’s main attraction comes from its DC Comics imprint. “Would Ezra’s participation really tip the balance? I don’t necessarily attribute to that. And Comscore box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian points out that the press moments most likely to affect a project’s bottom line tend to come from big-name names like Tom Cruise: “The higher the star power, the higher the l ‘impact”.

When asked if Miller’s lack of participation hurt The flash‘s Finances, Lieberman offers a truism about a marketer’s plight: “The only thing no one’s ever been able to top is a movie people don’t like.”

It remains to be seen whether the actors will strike will spur further pivots. After major Hollywood PR firms were tipped off earlier this week by SAG-AFTRA to point out that the actors won’t be available to promote their projects, a publicist joked a DAY“It’s time to sign influencers.”

Anaja Smith and Mia Galuppo contributed to the reporting.