How to Sell a Movie: X-Men DOFP

On Tuesday, the 14th one of the biggest films of the summer was released on Blu-Ray and DVD, X-Men: Days of Future Past. As a huge comic book reader growing up and a fan of the X-Men movie franchise (not The Last Stand so much), I was very excited for this movie and I followed the promotions associated with this movie from the beginning. Here a brief synopsis of what 20th Century Fox did:

TEASERS AND DEBUTS

Ever since the first posters were revealed, linking “James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart’s” Professor Xavier and “Michael Fassbender and Sir Ian McKellan’s” Magneto, it appeared 20th Century Fox was marketing the movie to tie First Class in with the original X-Men trilogy. After all, First Class’s focus was the beginning and evolution of Xavier and Magneto’s relationship. With Stewart and McKellan joining the cast this time around, these posters were a lot better than the ones used to promote First Class.

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For those that weren’t familiar with the Days of Future Past storyline, these posters provided the opportunity to show that this wasn’t just a sequel to X-Men: First Class, but that this movie was the next chapter of the original trilogy. This continued with the release of the first trailer, which illustrated to viewers how the two “franchises” were to be merged together.

Once the intrigue was set, that is when the heavy promotion around the stars/mutants themselves began:

The movie invaded the annual Comic-Con convention by revealing Trask Industries and their prototype Sentinel, the mutant hunting robots who look to destroy the X-Men. The entire cast was revealed in the infamous Hall H of the convention, bringing in the likes of Halle Berry and Ellen Page from the original cast and adding Peter Dinklage and Evan Peters to growing list.

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CENTER STAGE: WHY NOT WOLVERINE?

The opportunity to feature Hugh Jackman/Wolverine, clearly the breakout star of the entire movie franchise, was evident. He was heavily featured in the first two nationwide trailers along with the Charles and Erik dynamic, which is how we learned that the movie updated the storyline with him as the one returning to the past instead of Kitty Pryde (from the comics). Then the next couple of posters began to feature him prominently as the front man in the center of the mutant group.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Wolverine-postereight-new-posters-released-for-x-men-days-of-future-past-160360-a-1396628244-470-75The-Future-Team-in-X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past

Not a surprising choice, considering they have a spinoff franchise about his character, but the studio couldn’t just focus its promotions on the Trilogy’s cast. So when they began to feature the First Class cast more in the promotional material, it was the choice of who they featured that made me ponder…

“THE WOLVERINE” OF FIRST CLASS

When she joined X-Men: First Class, Jennifer Lawrence was coming off her first Oscar nomination and this movie became her mainstream debut to the public. Since that movie’s release, she attained worldwide stardom through her Oscar win, the Hunger Games franchise and her all-around “quirkiness”. However, unlike the Hunger Games, X-Men was not a franchise that focused around her character. Which made it quite perplexing when she began standing side-by-side with Jackman. Sure, she was now an Oscar winner, but so was Halle Berry and Anna Paquin. Ellen Page was previously nominated as well. So was it simply the actresses’s popularity that made her special enough to overshadow Charles or Erik?

As mentioned, the first two trailers (Debut and Trailer #2) heavily featured the Charles and Erik dynamic and Wolverine. Then, as more and more posters began to release, the First Class mutant most featured was Lawrence as Mystique. She earned the coveted spot, evidence by being at the side of Wolverine when the double character posters debuted, along with the final poster featuring the entire ensemble cast.

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Lawrence’s rising star-power seemed to have won her this spot, but it wasn’t until the movie was released that viewers realized that there was another reason for this move by the studio. Without giving away spoilers here (besides, how may people will read this and not have seen it?), Mystique’s role in causing the bleak future proved quite significant. It seems that the studio was giving people a subtle wink that Mystique has a larger role in the X-Men universe for DOFP than expected and perhaps even for future X-Men movies as well.

WHIIIP… LAAAAAAASH

Fast forward to after the movie’s release, critics and viewers alike lauded the movie, giving it a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Another aspect that was praised was Evan Peters’s performance as the mutant Quicksilver and the studio took advantage. He was quickly added to the Hardee’s sponsorship commercial series and the X-Men Movies social media pages began to feature “homemade” videos of Quicksilver going about his life, from picking up tacos to playing tennis with himself. In short, many viewers fell in love with the snarky Quicksilver and studio wisely utilized him in continuing promotions.

Now that the movie is available for home video purchase, we see that the Blu-Ray and DVD box art features the ensemble of mutants, led by Wolverine. Interestingly Halle Berry/Storm and Ellen Page/Kitty are missing, but Peters/Quicksilver is featured on the artwork, obviously capitalizing on his praised performance.

BD

In conclusion, the marketing efforts for this movie not only promoted the movie, but also introduced a couple other mutants who may take the lead on promoting the future of the series. The question now is when and who will we see in the first promotions and marketing for the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse? I personally can’t wait!

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