There’s buzz going around right now about how Pacific Rim, Legendary Entertainment’s $200 million, Guillermo del Toro-directed summer tentpole of a hopefully-blockbuster. Specifically, that it’s not trending so hot in audience interest and that folks are showing more attachment to Grown Ups 2, a situation that has a lot of film critics weeping into their pillows, I am sure. It’s certainly worrying for folks who like to see extravagantly funded original science fiction films come out of Hollywood, though it doesn’t necessarily appear to be a death knell for the movie (knock on wood). Certainly not to Legendary Entertainment’s president and chief creative officer, Jon Jashni,who says that appealing to the nerds first, and then widening the scope of their marketing was all in the plan.
What I’m most interested in, however, is who he considers to be in the “nerd” audience.
When explaining the course of Pacific Rim‘s marketing campaign, Jashni admitted that selling the movie with, initially, bombastic trailers that focused on robot vs. monster conflict was intentional, and now the plan is to “bring the nutrition” in order to appeal to general audiences instead of the “core fan.” Starting with more featurettes and ads about the emotional lives of the jaeger pilots and the intense relationships they must foster to be able maintain the psychic link that controls their fighting machines. But unlike a lot of discussion about these sorts of marketing strategies, Jashni doesn’t devolve into the old “guys like fighting, women like character relationships” tropes. In fact, he does the opposite. From Variety:
Jashni maintains that the “fanboy psychographic” isn’t limited to men anymore, and that character helps sell a movie to all audience segments. “There’s an emotional aspect to this movie, and there’s a bombastic aspect,” he says. “Some women will respond to the emotion inherent in the movie, some will respond to the spectacle. Same is true for men and adults. ”
It’s clear that Jashni knows that the Venn diagram of “core fan” and “male” is not a single circle, and that reaching for “general audiences” doesn’t mean trying to make it easier for dudes to convince their girlfriends to come to the theater with them, but trying to make it easier for anyone to convince someone who isn’t already sold on the “giant robots fight giant monsters by the director of Hellboy” concept to come with them to the theater.
And we’ve already seen a bit of the turn in Pacific Rim‘s marketing this week, with a trailer based around Idris Elba‘s Stacker Pentecost’s Big Speech that still has plenty of monster smashing, but juxtaposed against the dwarfed remnants of humanity and their reactions. Show it to your friends so that I don’t have to cry into my pillow all July 12th.