Home >industry >media >‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ spins its promotions web far and wide

Mumbai: It is part of a popular and profitable franchise, its predecessor claims the record for the highest opening weekend for a Hollywood film in India ( 34 crore), its trailers promise the kind of special effects that Indian movies will take a few decades to match, and it has little competition at the ticket window during its release week.

Yet, The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s spin cycle is far from over. From Earth Hour to the Indian Premier League to the Hindi television show Baal Veer, Sony Pictures India, the Hollywood studio that’s releasing the movie, has cast its net far and wide.

Starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens on 1 May in 2D, 3D and IMAX on over 1,100 screens with enhanced opening weekend ticket rates, and versions in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Among the global activities is Spider-Man’s anointment as ambassador for Earth Hour—the campaign to encourage energy efficiency (electricity is woven into the plot through the character of the villainous Electro, who generates vast amounts of power). In India, the focus of the marketing and publicity campaign has been on Indianising a quintessentially American superhero.

“Since 2002, the Spider-Man franchise has changed the way Hollywood films are marketed in this country—be it the localization of the franchise or the scale of marketing and distribution," claimed Kercy Daruwala, the managing director of Sony Pictures India. “We were the first to dub in Bhojpuri and to have an Indian song in the film soundtrack, among many other things. Brands too have seen the possibilities in associating with Hollywood films."

Since The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t have a ready Indian connection as the first part, which starred Irrfan Khan in a small role, Sony Pictures India has been forging links with familiar names and events. The efforts include a get-your-finger-inked election linked campaign, tie-ins with brands such as Perfetti Van Melle India Pvt. Ltd’s Juzt Jelly candy and Kellogg Co.’s Chocos cereal and a media partnership with the Hindi news channel Aaj Tak.

Spider-Man has been parachuted into an ongoing narrative track in the popular SabTV show Baal Veer. The sound recording technology company Dolby Laboratories Inc. is launching its Dolby Atmos-enabled surround sound screen in Delite cinema in Delhi with the film. Also piggybacking on the movie is Sathyam Luxe theatre in Chennai, which will launch its IMAX screen 1 May.

The Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi, fresh from the success of a nasty turn in Krrish 3, has been recruited as the voice of Electro in the Hindi-dubbed version of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Jamie Foxx plays the character—one of three villains who keep Andrew Garfield’s webbed vigilante busy—in the original).

Animated films such as The Incredibles and Rio 2 have used the services of big-name local actors to enhance their local box-office appeal in the past.

Apart from rattling off the Hindi equivalent of Electro’s threat that “Soon, everybody in the city will know how it feels to live in a world without power, without mercy, without Spider-Man", Oberoi has been granting interviews, conducting Google Hangouts and making an appearance on the ratings-friendly television show Comedy Nights with Kapil.

Although neither Garfield nor Foxx was able to tour India, they swung bats and patted away deliveries at an Indian Premier League promotional event hosted by Extraa Innings host Samir Kochhar in March in Singapore. “We are connecting with the masses through the nation’s two favourite pastimes—local films and cricket," Daruwala said.

The first Spider-Man franchise was directed by Sam Raimi and ran from 2002 to 2007.

In 2012, Marc Webb took charge of the reboot with a new cast and a fresh retelling of the character’s origin story.

The uptick in box-office receipts from the original franchise and its reboot sits alongside a similar embrace of other Hollywood superhero characters such as Batman and, of late, members of the Avengers.

Spider-Man 3, which was released in 2007, mopped up Rs68 crore in gross box-office, according to the studio, but was outmatched by The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, which retold the story of Peter Parker’s transformation from sad-sack orphan into protector of the human race. Released with about 1,236 prints in 2D, 3D and IMAX in India, the movie’s major brand associations were with Amul Milk, Big Cola, Kellogg’s and Horlicks.

One of the returning brands from that movie is Kellogg’s Chocos breakfast cereal product. “Kellogg’s had a great experience with the tie-up with part one—receiving fantastic feedback on the initiative," said Harpreet Singh Tibb, marketing director, Kellogg India. “The tie-up is being played out through multiple touch points like TV communication, on-pack promotion and in-store visibility," Tibb said.

Sony Pictures India also got a good deal of unsolicited and free publicity from Gaurav Sharma, an independent candidate from the Mumbai South Lok Sabha constituency, who wore the superhero’s costume canvassing for votes (company policy prevents the studio from associating with any political party).

One of the biggest factors working in The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s favour is the lack of serious competition at the box-office and the school holidays.

Sony Pictures India wants to cash in big on its family viewing-friendly landing date and current profit-sharing terms with cinemas, which is usually split down the middle in the first week, 42.5 % for the distributor in the second week and 37.5% in the third week—if the release lasts that long.

“There is no doubt that the film will do excellent—the question is, how much," said Sharad Doshi, who runs the single-screen theatres Central Plaza and Palace Talkies in Mumbai.

“But we won’t be hiking our ticket rates for the 3D version, since we want to make sure that the families come in."

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