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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Legendary Entertainment Pres Thinks the “Fanboy” Audience Isn’t Just Men Anymore

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.

(Variety via io9.)

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  • Bryant Francis

    Now I’m even more excited for the Midnight Premiere of this movie. =D

  • Anonymous

    If the movie is good and flops, I’ll cry. So far, all the biggest movies of the season (Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, Man of Steel) have disappointed me to some level and it would suck if the one movie that didn’t disappoint was the only one that failed.

  • Anonymous

    ::Flail:: Where is this movie? I need it now!

  • Anonymous

    The last movie I Really Really enjoyed in the theater was Scott Pilgrim, but it got the worst reception! I hope this is better…

  • Brand

    I still don’t understand what people are not liking about this movie. It looks awesome. Hopefully, it will be a good movie!

  • Davonne Burns

    Personally, I think he makes an excellent point. Grown Ups is not even on my list of maybe movies. Pacific Rim is one of my must sees this summer. As a woman who loves a great sci-fi movie, I Iove the spectacle as much as I love the more emotional aspects. Romance? Comedy? Bores me to tears. I don’t relate to those people on an emotional level, their lives seem more alien than anything sci-fi has to offer. I will ditch any guy to avoid seeing something like Grown Ups. Give me my explosions and giant monsters.

  • Melissa Bramble

    Preach it!

  • Omegasama

    I love Mechas and Idris Elba, and the two combined… Who could resist. Also, the monster attacking the Golden Gate Bridge (I assume) looks a lot like one of the Weapons in FF7, another reason to check it out.

  • Anonymous

    “Some women will respond to the emotion inherent in the movie, some will
    respond to the spectacle. Same is true for men and adults.”

    Um… women, men, adults, the three groups humans come in?

    Small nitpick. I really appreciate him saying this. I like spectacle, sure, but spectacle without emotional core is, y’know, Transformers. And I’m done with those, big-time.

    What I’m saying is bring on Pacific Rim.

  • Lisa Jonte

    “Some women will respond to the emotion inherent in the movie, some will respond to the spectacle. Same is true for men and adults.”

    Women, men and… adults? What?

  • Anonymous

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    I love Mechas and Idris Elba, and
    the two combined… Who could resist. Also, the monster attacking the
    Golden Gate Bridge (I assume) looks a lot like one of the Weapons in
    FF7, another reason to check it out.

  • Anonymous

    I desperately hope this does well.

  • Alissa Knyazeva

    I’m going to be honest, every time someone decides that giant freaking humanoid robots are the best way to fight monsters/baddies, I face-palm. A humanoid, bipedal robot is a terrible design for a weapon, full-stop.

    That being said, I still consume copious amounts of giant robot stories because they often have lots of good sci-fi elements that I do enjoy and I’m willing to overlook the utter stupidity that is a giant humanoid robot (though it grates on me. Oh, it does). So, I’ll be seeing this. But I’d be way more excited if it didn’t feature giant robots and tried doing something else sci-fi-y instead.

    But hey, who knows – maybe they’ll even surprise me and actually offer a justification for building said giant robots that will impress me. I’ve seen that once or twice, too.

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    Someone put this man in charge of a video game developer STAT!!!

  • Bryant Francis

    Maybe he was going for “other adults” as a stumbling recognition that there are people who don’t identify as men or women?

  • AverageDrafter

    It actually makes sense here. Their skin is too thick for conventional munitions except nukes – which is how they had to dispatch the first Kaiju. If you nuke each one, you either are going to level a lot of cities or fallout will kill the planet.

    So you need a reusable weapons platform capable of repeatedly damaging these creatures but not destroying everything else around it. It needs the power to damage, but also precision.

    The force of a Jaeger punch does just that – due to its mass it can break Kaiju bones, rear up and swing again, and again, and again.

    Also, I beleive one of the two pilots is a hand to hand fighting expert. A form closest to their own would facilitate translating this experience in fighting on this scale.

    We can’t shoot or bomb it, we have to beat the hell out of it. Hence, Giant Robots.

    Of course the real explanation…

    You, I, We, and Chicks dig giant robots.

  • Christopher LaHaise

    I will be seeing this. My wife will be seeing this. We’re both fans of del Toro. We’re both fans of kaiju. This movie was made for us. :)

  • Lisa Jonte

    Hmm… maybe.

  • Anonymous

    I like explosions, giant monsters, romance and comedy. The problem is that Hollywood generally sucks at the last two.

  • Anonymous

    I think that was supposed to mean “all adults”, as in “women, men – generally all people, regardless of their gender”.

  • Lapin

    This is really the only movie in a long time that my brother and I have been equally excited about, so we’re getting a group of friends together to see it. It’s a movie about giant mechs fighting monsters- I would think THIS would be the type of original sci-fi to appeal to the masses, so this lack of a wide reaction puzzles me.

  • Ian Osmond

    To be fair, few of the men and women in my peer group are really adults. I mean, I’m pretty sure my parents aren’t adults.

    My grandparents, maybe. But that’s because they grew up in the Depression and fought in WWII.

  • Ian Osmond

    I think that accepting humanoid giant robots is just part of the entry fee to the genre, like accepting that, in musicals, people sing, and in opera, people sing EVERYTHING. Or that people talk in blank verse in Shakespeare. Or that people wear stylized masks in Noh theater and ancient Greek theater.

    Same thing, really. In giant-robot-versus-monster movies, cartoons, books, and tabletop wargames, people ride around in giant humanoid robots. Doesn’t make any MORE sense than a Greek chorus following the action around and commenting on what Media or Lysistrata is doing, but it’s a convention of the art form.

  • Sarah Dompkowski

    I’m trying to save on money and gas this summer, so I’m limiting the movies I see this summer, as it takes me 45+ minutes to reach the nearest theater. Pacific Rim is at the top of my list.

  • Maricruz Villalobos Zamora

    I’m glad someone finally understands that. I mean, the only reason I’m gonna watch Pacific Rim is because of the “giant robots fight giant monsters in live action” part. The Director of El Laberinto del Fauno, only means it will actually have a plot, not that it actually matters

  • Jenna Christensen

    So basically, people like things? Huh. Go figure.

  • Joanna

    That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you!!!

  • DarthBetty

    Most of the immediate opposition I’ve heard from the ignorant masses has been, “WHAT THIS IS TRANSFORMERS. I don’t need to know anymore.”

  • Brand

    Well, the issue with giant robots is like the Jaegers wouldn’t be able to walk on the ground. They would sink into the earth from the force/weight. So, unless they are made of some super strong, super light material, they couldn’t be possible. But I’m not watching something like Pacific Rim, or Getter Robo, Gurren Lagan because it’s realistic. I’m watching it because it is fun.

  • Anonymous

    In other groundbreaking news…The sky is blue and water is wet

  • Katie

    What I want is a kick ass female led action movie where she takes no shit and at the end of movie kisses the male damsel and then drives off into the sunset leaving her fella to swoon after her. With more explosions

  • Aundrea Singer

    My kid is SO EXCITED to see this, though I honestly don’t know if it’s the giant robots or the giant monsters that’s got him more psyched. I’ve never really been into Kaiju myself (hell, I didn’t know it had its own name), but I was intrigued by the fact that Del Toro, of all directors, wanted to take on something so huge and distant from what he’s more known for.

    What really interested me, however, was the idea of a psychic connection between the pilots, because I’m a geeky fangurl who loves soulbonding tropes almost as much as I love fanfiction that slaps wings on my favourite characters.

    But I have to say that so far the trailers have left me cold. Much as the ‘we’re cancelling the apocalypse!’ made me smile in much the same way that ‘nuke them from orbit; it’s the only way to be sure’ does, the stereotype of the Tough, Black Guy Leader is kind of old by now, not to mention the slim likelihood of Mr. Elba’s character surviving the film.

    I also can’t say that I found Charlie Hunnam’s character to be terribly interesting, given what I saw of him, considering he’s apparently yet another arrogant jerk with authority problems (but surely there’s also a damaged heart of gold underneath). I’d also love it if there were more than two ambulatory female characters in this (a computer voice doesn’t count).

    So, I’m hoping that the trailers just haven’t shown enough of the full story, and that I’ll be pleasantly surprised. At least my kid will most likely enjoy it.

  • LifeLessons

    And they are correct. On many, many levels.

  • Nicole Kiser

    I’m a 30 yr old female and I plan on seeing Pacific Rim with my Mother. My Mom likes Godzilla movies and various other kinds of “disaster movies” and I like giant robots. It breaks my heart to think that people would pick Grown Ups 2 over a Monsters vs Robots movies…. what’s the world coming to? D:

  • Anonymous

    Same is true for men and adults.” Men AND adults. Ha!