Warner Bros. is marketing Ready Player One hard after the studio reportedly spent more than $9 million for TV ads alone during the last week full of February, making it the highest studio ad spender for that duration.
Based on the 2011 sci-fi novel of the same name by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One dives into a near-dystopian future where human beings engage with each other through an interconnected virtual space called the OASIS. But what was once a fun place to get away from the reality of daily living suddenly becomes a tool that could spell the fates of many people after an evil megacorporation attempts to take it over for their personal gains. Starring Tye Sheridan as protagonist Wade Watts, the movie adaptation is directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Zak Penn and Cline.
Variety reports that Warner Bros.’ spent a whopping $9.66 million for 70 national TV ad airings across 13 networks for Ready Player One making it the top ad spender between February 19-25. The marketing campaign was clearly targeting sports fans as it’s revealed that there was program-specific budget allocated during the recently wrapped Winter Olympics telecasts, college basketball and UFC Fight Night.
Ready Player One is followed closely by Fox’s Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence ($9.4 million), while on the third spot is Universal Pictures’ Pacific Rim Uprising ($8.19 million). Rounding up the top 5 list are two other Warner Bros.’ properties: Tomb Raider ($5.7 million) and Game Night ($5.43 million). Additionally, most of the TV spots for the aforementioned films were aired on NBC and NBC Sports. Interestingly, despite Ready Player One being the biggest spender, it had the lowest Attention Score, meaning that more people were tuning out of its ads by either changing the channel, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV. Of course, it’s possible that it’s because they’ve already seen the same spot considering the number of promos that the film ran, but it could also mean that people weren’t interested in what they’ve been seeing from it.
Nostalgia has been one of the main selling points of the film, with several fun nods to pop culture classics like Jurassic Park and Back To The Future. While this was a great marketing tool for a film considering how hit films like the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise capitalized on said themes, the main gist of the film, which really is a fascinating concept felt lost in the shuffle. Instead of using nostalgia as the movie’s biggest viewers hook, promotion should’ve devoted a bit more time in giving us a good look at the characters that inhabit this futuristic world, because while Easter Eggs are fun to hunt, they can’t really carry a whole film, let alone a potential sci-fi franchise for Warner Bros.
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