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Best Film Marketing Campaign Oscar 2020

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With 2019 officially in the past and the Oscars 2020 fast approaching, it’s about time to resurrect my annual award ceremony for Best Film Marketing Campaign. Deadpool 2 took home the honours last year but this year is a whole new crop of marketing campaigns to consider.

For those that are new, this unofficial Oscar category is not simply “which film made most money” though that is a factor. I will examine how far a movie was able to stretch a budget, uniqueness, overall quality, and a couple completely made up factors. So with that in mind, let’s get started;

The Nominees: Best Film Marketing Campaign

Joker (Warner Bros.)

joker marketing oscar
Budget: $55 million
Worldwide Gross: $1.1 billion

Not only is Joker the first ever billion dollar R-rated film, it did so as a movie about a Batman villain without Batman! And on a very modest budget of $55 million. Joker understood right from the beginning that this movie would live or die on the performance of Joaquin Phoenix and, luckily, he delivered in spades.

Joker expanded what’s possible with R-rated film and turned the “superhero” genre on it’s head by focusing on the villain. For that, it enthusiastically lands the first nomination for best Film Marketing campaign.

Avengers: Endgame (Walt Disney Studios)

Budget: $356 million
Worldwide Gross: $2.8 billion

Avengers: Endgame was released a year after the extremely successful Avengers: Infinity War (see last years nominees). Marketed as the ultimate conclusion to a 22-film, 10-year Marvel film saga, fans were teased that things would never be the same and the typical rules of superhero movies no longer apply.

Avengers movies have always acted as a season finale to the ongoing movie universe but Endgame was the series finale. As a 3-hour movie filled with moments fans have been waiting to see for years, fans came back time and time again to make the film the highest grossing film of all-time.

US (Universal Pictures)

Budget: $20 million
Worldwide Gross: $255.1 million

A horror movie marketing campaign released on Christmas Day? That’s a bold strategy, Cotton!

The first Us trailer starts with a family headed on vacation listening to the classic hip-hop song “I Got 5 On It”. As the trailer devolves from vacation to nightmare, the song distorts into a similarly nightmarish remix that matches the film beat-for-beat. As a song about splitting equal halves of a $10 dollar bag of marijuana, the song works on levels one can’t even fully appreciate until after seeing the film’s final twists and turns.

Midsommar (A24)

Budget: N/A
Worldwide Gross: $42.3 million

In all likelihood, you’ll feel similar to one of the characters above after watching Ari Aster’s Midsommar. Despite it’s bright daylight setting and pastel colour scheme, it’s one of the years darkest horror movies.

The contrast between it’s style and content makes for  some truly unique marketing opportunities. For example, judging by this ad for a toy bear, you’d never guess the context in which that bear is used near the end of the film. It’s a fun inside joke for the small but loyal cult following the film has gained upon it’s release.

Parasite (Neon)

Budget: N/A
Worldwide Gross: $129.7 million

Parasite’s success is earned the old fashion way despite some major hurdles. It’s an R-rated Korean film with dark subject matter and a non-traditional plot. So how did it go on to make over $100 million?

It’s really good. The first time you hear about Parasite it’ll almost certainly be in the context of “the best of the year” with a reaction of “what the hell is Parasite?”. But that combination of praise and curiosity has made Parasite the most successful foreign film of the year and one of the most successful films, period.

The Winner: Best Film Marketing Campaign

Avengers: Endgame

Budget: $356 million
Worldwide Gross: $2.8 billion

Before Avengers: Endgame was released, the question was can it beat the return of Star Wars Episode VII which opened to $245 million. After all, Star Wars returned after being dormant for 14 years and is the most influential pop culture franchise of all time. And how many more seats are even available to sell? Turns out… alot!

Not only did Avengers: Endgame become the highest opening film of all time, it beat the previous record of $245 million by, get this… $110 million! That’s right, Avengers: Endgame opened to $357 million. Industry experts didn’t even think such a number was even possible just based on the math of how many theaters exist.

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