As 'Iron Man 2' showtimes fill up, Hollywood hunts next comic book hero
'Iron Man 2' showtimes are selling out fast. How does a lesser-known comic book character become a multimillion-dollar movie franchise? Star power, a solid story, and a little help from the real world.
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Marketing plays a key role in translating comic book popularity to movie success, says Chris Anderson of The Marketing Arm. The first step is finding an interesting, appropriate, and buzz-worthy actor to play the lead. Robert Downey Jr. was well-cast as Iron Man, he says. And as movie fans (not necessarily comic book fans) began to learn more about the character and the film, the buzz grew. The smart approach to marketing lesser-known superheroes is to begin with the core-fans – these pockets of loyal, passionate comic book fans and use the various social media to build awareness, say Mr. Anderson. “If this audience is on board,” he says via e-mail, “they become champions of the film and the buzz begins to build organically around the project.“Skip to next paragraph
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“Iron Man 2” is a good example of the other ad ploys to pull out in support of an unknown hero, such as, say, Iron Fist or Black Panther, says Caleb Hill, product VP for Unicast. Not only do you stack the movie with stars, from Mr. Downey to Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson, who are actually marketable brands themselves and can use their own social networks to sell the film, but you look for as many other products as possible, he says. The film brims with brand names: Burger King, Diesel, Dr. Pepper, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Land O’Frost lunchmeat, Royal Purple Motor Oil, to name a few. “That way,” says Mr. Hill, “you can leverage those products to get attention from people who care about them but might never have thought of going to a superhero movie.”
Studios have held early screenings at the large comic book fan shows such as the annual San-Diego event Comic-Con. But, in the end, Mr. Anderson adds, a really well made film is the make-or-break.
Regardless of how well marketed a film is, “if movie-goers leave the theater having hated the film, it will die a quick death.”
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