Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Internet: You're Doing WB's Marketing For Them

Taking a break from the video game talk to jump into movies. Specifically 'Wonder Woman.' I can hear the cries of the internet, oh so faintly. It's as if, thousands of trolls screamed in agony at the mere mention of 'Wonder Woman.'

This past week has been kind of a train-wreck in the most glorious of ways. It's bringing out the best and worst in humanity. Topping off a tumultuous month of backlash from fans and critics of Warner Bros. about the lack of marketing for the movie, the recent uprising over Alamo Drafthouse's women-only screening of the film, is capping off May quite nicely. Early critical reviews are giving it one of the highest ratings of a DC movie, ever.

The whole situation is kind of amusing to watch, and possibly a smart marketing move for WB. As much as I'd like to join in on the uproar for the lack of marketing behind 'Wonder Woman,' it's had more push then 'Suicide Squad'. Still trailing behind the other WB superhero films, but it's a start. There are commercials (though I haven't seen any yet), trailer announcements, a Dr. Pepper cans, and a feature at this year's WonderCon.

But this is part of the brilliance in WB's marketing plan. Have you all noticed just how much we're talking about 'Wonder Woman' lately and the WB hasn't had to do much to make that happen?

Call me cynical, but my film and business degrees, and marketing know-how are telling me that this was all planned. Though 'Batman vs. Superman' and 'Suicide Squad' were not well-received by critics, they did net a profit. The studio has seen the online backlash (everyone did) and sought out an alternative to presenting the next project that wouldn't bite them in the ass. What we saw for 'Batman vs. Superman' was not the movie that we received. The same could be said for 'Suicide Squad.' The trailers and promos gave us fantastical versions of the films that didn't materialize. The internet rallied and pleaded with the WB to make 'Wonder Woman' a better film. Many fans and critics felt that this was the DC Universe's last chance to have a good movie, if they expect 'Justice League' to go off without a hitch.

With this mindset now in play, pulling back on the reins and not bombarding people with 'Wonder Woman' advertising, seems like a smart move.

Think about it. Your core DC fan-base of comic book readers and animated fans, are going to make sure Wonder Woman succeeds. They have made that online commitment. Yes, I understand that might not mean they follow-through, but even if you capture 50% of that audience to buy a ticket opening weekend, that's still a pretty high rate of conversion. And we know comic fans. They are rabid and will go after the goals they have set out.

So, since DC can guarantee that their fans are going to promote the hell out of the movie for them, they only need to attract the audience of those who may not know about the Wonder Woman movie. Their tactics are focusing more on brand name recognition across a broad spectrum. Trailers, the occasional commercial, and Dr Pepper cans seem like an appropriate route to take. It's not screaming in the face of the average movie-goer, but can capture their attention. Even those who have never read a comic, or seen the TV show, know the name 'Wonder Woman.' Combined with the grocery-store advertisements, you're likely to capture the attention of the non-fans to take interest.

While this may be enough for some movies, this wasn't for 'Wonder Woman.' Fans started to cause an uproar over the insufficient marketing of the film compared to 'Batman vs. Superman.' A load of articles appeared online, scrutinizing WB's policies. People were taking up arms to help support the movie, and "getting the word out" that others should do the same. We can't let 'Wonder Woman' fail!

This is marketing gold. The WB didn't have to push much to get such a strong result. And now that movie reviewers seem to be embracing the film, the studio doesn't have to put much effort into throwing out more marketing. Even the approval, and minor backlash from Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas over their female-only screening of the movie is raking in more free publicity. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at those meetings.

And this isn't the first time where the internet took a prominent stance on a movie to help boost it's sales. 'The Interview' was broiled in controversy after threats were made to Sony if the film was released to theaters. Even I joined in on this. So instead of showing it in theaters, Sony agreed with the internet and made the movie available to purchase online. It's not the best movie, and has some laughs, but it produced a flurry of sales that no one expected. Everyone wanted to know what was so darn controversial that made North Korea worry. And really, they didn't have a damn thing to worry about. 'Team America: World Police' was probably a worse portrayal of the country and it's leadership, and those were puppets! It was also, a lot funnier, but that's not the point.

Internet. You have a lot of power. And you're using it to help make big businesses profit. Um...maybe we should re-evaluate how we use that power in the future. How about we end world hunger? Can we start there?

Whatever your position is on the film, if you want to see it, if you think trolls need to stop being dicks (which they do), if you think fans are helping boost the movie's potential, I can't help but wonder if this was WB's plan all along.

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