MOVIE MARKETING MADNESS: “RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE”

Gaming, as a trend, has completely passed me by. Back in my junior high/high school days, gaming was a term reserved for those who put on their cloaks and did the whole role-playing thing. Now it seems to apply to anyone who plays any sort of non-physical game or sport. Everything from video games to customized card games to traditional D&D type stuff is now lumped under the gaming heading.

So I am only passingly familiar with the “Resident Evil” franchise. I kind of know it’s a game or series of games in the “Tomb Raider” mold, with one badass chick fighting all sorts of demony types (a genre which reached its pinnacle with “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer”, a show which ironically spawned what I understand to be mediocre video games).

The Trailers

The teaser trailer continues a trend, begun recently by spots for I, Robot and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, of masquerading as an infomercial. It’s a spot for a new age-defying cream from the Umbrella Corporation which, we see as the spot goes on, tends to turn people into zombies and/or kill them. There is a brief shot of Milla Jovovich holding a shotgun, but that’s about the only time it breaks out of the infomercial mode.

The theatrical trailer is more traditional, with a vague government/corporate conspiracy hinted at and lots of expendable troops running around until Milla shows up and starts kicking ass. This seems to play out a lot like Escape From New York, with the population trapped behind a barrier and a single vigilante running through the mess.

Despite the fact that this looks like a horrible movie, the theatrical version did work pretty well for me. It contains a good amount of exposition without giving away the farm. The editing is tight and does seem geared toward those not familiar with the first Resident Evil.

The Poster

Milla Jovovich carrying a gun and wearing only a towel. This works for me on so many different levels it’s almost mind-boggling. I may need to take a minute…

The Website

There are four major portions to the website: Laboratory (which unfortunately does not include the option to have Marty Feldman as your assistant), Police Station, Church and School. These sections are, based on a few references in the trailers and some sound snippets on the site, where most of the action in the movie takes place.

Before you enter the site to get to these locations, though, there are a few options presented. “Preview” gets you to the two trailers. Sony has partnered with eBay for an “Auction” where you can bid on memorabilia from the movie. A good idea, but kind of, I don’t know, pointless for a disposable sequel action flick. Lastly, there was a “Poster Contest” (now over) which allowed fans to try to create their version of a RE:A poster. Why (or more accurately, how) you think you could improve on Milla in a towel with a shotgun is beyond me. Hold on – I need to take another minute…

“Laboratory” has got to be one of the most pointless exercises I’ve seen on a movie website recently. You get to design your own creature or monster and then have it compared to what everyone else has created. I guess for the gaming crowd, who pride themselves on getting those extra two strength points for their characters, this is an attractive feature but it has almost no correlation to the movie. Nice idea, lousy execution.

In the “Police Department” you will be beaten and interrogated without the presence of an attorney until you confess to a crime you didn’t commit. Sorry, that’s Chicago’s police department not the movies. Anyway, biographies and filmographies of the major players can be found here. There are two discoveries I made while here: 1) Sienna Guillory is just gorgeous and I can’t wait to see her again and 2) The name of a type of creature is “Lickers”. Something named Lickers in a movie with Milla Jovovich and Sienna Guillory…I’m taking another moment.

The “Church” is just a list of the movies promotional partners as well as the opportunity to listen to songs off the soundtrack which was actually a cool feature. “School” contains a fairly basic Synopsis and Production Notes.

Media Coverage

There was a good deal of press generated a while ago about what’s called a “viral marketing” effort gone awry for the movie. Mobile phone users were getting messages saying they had been infected with a “T-Virus” and gave directions on where to go to resolve the issue, an internet destination which turned out to be related to the movie. The problem was, well, they were pretending to send a virus, something most electronics users are wary of in this day and age. The move was exposed as a hoax and ultimately backfired because it’s not a good idea to joke about viruses. They did, however, get the inadvertent benefit of the press on how the hoax was exposed so the effect on public recognition was probably greater then they had anticipated. Just proves that even though you may be swinging for a home run a double can be just as good.

Overall

I’m impressed at the quality of the campaign. The theatrical trailer is not heavy on references to the original film and it’s easy to be intrigued with little or no familiarity with it. The website is well done and, while not containing a great deal of information, is laid out very nicely. Being able to preview tracks off the soundtrack is a great bonus and something more sites should do.

The filmmakers’ target audience is going to be fans of the first movie as well as the gaming and sci-fi crowds in general and the campaign for the most part is geared toward them. The only part I didn’t feel fit in with the rest is the teaser trailer. I applaud their attempt at creating a word-of-mouth campaign with the virus hoax, an idea which didn’t pan out, but which I’m sure we will see more of in the future.

As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Random Thoughts blog.




Posted on September 8, 2004 in Features by
Buffer


If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
Popular Stories from Around the Web

Tell us what you're thinking...





Comments are governed by the Terms of Use of this Site. Click on the "Report Comment" link if you feel a comment is in violation of the Terms of Use, and the comment will be reviewed appropriately.