With great reviews, a successful opening weekend, some Oscar buzz, and of course Brad Pitt, you wouldn’t think that Moneyball would have to go through the normal Hollywood marketing makeover treatment. However, looking at the newest spots for Moneyball, it’s clear the marketing geniuses were given some creative latitude in terms of how they were able to position the film.
The feel good movie of the year? Moneyball is certainly a lot of different things, all of which are good. A great sports movie, well acted, well written, smart, and compelling, but I don’t think anyone is going to bestow that it’s the feel good movie of the year especially considering it doesn’t really fit in that bucket at all. I noticed others on Twitter we’re also a bit perplexed by the positioning as well.
The thing is that every movie, good or bad, needs to be marketed relentlessly to bring in as much revenue as possible – either to turn a profit or at least help cover the production costs. Impressive trailers, media tours, appearances, events, interviews, screenings, out of context quotes from reviews, and endless commercials and sponsorships. All along the way it’s being guided by a couple dozen marketing folks pulling the strings. Even if the product speaks for itself, you can’t just sit on your hands thinking and hoping that word of mouth alone will be enough.
The lead-up to the release of Moneyball focused on the story, the comedic dialogue between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, and the “based on a true story” angle of a recent sports story. The marketing then pivoted to really focus on the positive reviews as most were smitten by the movie.
With a full week out in the theaters, Hollywood seems to have decided a movie that most wouldn’t tab as a “feel good movie” will now wear that title. In fact if you look below, The Atlantic labels it “melancholy and complicated,” a far reach from “feel good.”
Maybe it’s because 50/50 and Dolphin Tale are vying for that audience. Maybe it’s because they know sports fans, Pitt aficionados, and general movie buffs have likely already seen the movie hence it’s time to focus elsewhere.
Take a look again at the new spot as it really drifts away from the core of Moneyball:
- There actually isn’t a single shot of a baseball player in uniform.
- There are two clips of family members hugging.
- Johah Hill’s character (who is the second lead) gets less screen time than Pitt’s on screen daughter, Kerris Dorsey
- To be honest I think a good amount of people wouldn’t even be able to tell this movie is about baseball given how the commercial sells the family angle so hard.
All in all, the movie is good and the marketing up until this point has really stayed true to what the product is. It’s just funny to see Hollywood stretching this far to sell some additional tickets for a movie that really sells itself. This has me wondering just how Hollywood envisions positioning the ESPN movie if it indeed makes its way onto the screen.
While Moneyball’s new commercial was a good showing of marketing slight of hand, I have to say it dramatically pales in comparison to Jerry The Great.