Marketing for Ender's Game is about to start now, and I mean for real! Remember that this is one of the hottest films of the 2013 season with a $100M+ budget, a world star cast with highly decorated actors and actresses (Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis), as well as the best of Young Hollywood (Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld).
And also don't forget that this project is run by Lionsgate and its Summit Entertainment subdivision who have a vast experience with young adult franchises (Twilight series, The Hunger Games, soon: Divergent).
This is going to be huge!
We are now 224 days away from the movie's November 1st release date which means we are already slightly overdue with the marketing campaign. Promotion for the first Hunger Games film started 237 days ahead of its first day in theaters with the release of an official poster. I will use The Hunger Games marketing schedule as a grid for what to expect from the Ender's Game campaign, which makes sense as The Hunger Games was Lionsgate's biggest box office success to date. With likely a similar team behind the Ender's Game campaign, there is little reason for them to change anything if they hope to duplicate this success story.
Keep in mind: this is all speculation from my side! Nothing has been confirmed with the studio, and naturally they are very tight-lipped about their marketing schedule as creating a buzz and surprises are a core part of any movie promotion.
The Hunger Games Marketing Schedule
2011-07-19: First Poster (237 days ahead of theatrical release)
2011-07-20: Official Website launched (236 days)
2011-08-28: Teaser Trailer (197 days)
2011-10-28: Character Posters (136 days)
2011-11-14: First Full Trailer (119 days)
2012-01-19: Final Poster (53 days)
2012-02-01: Second Full Trailer (40 days)
2012-03-12: Theatrical Release
First Movie Poster
This is the first thing we should expect for Ender's Game. Granted, due to some twitter posts which surfaced recently, we know already that a movie poster exists but it hasn't been yet been officially released. That can and should happen any day now! And the poster is going to be spectacular, no doubt about that. With the colour schemes shown in previously released images and graphics (stills, army badges), and the sci-fi tech theme of the story that requires all the VFX work for the movie, we shouldn't expect anything less than spectacular!
Official Website for the Movie
A website dedicated to the Ender's Game movie should be launched shortly after the poster release. With The Hunger Games it was the next day. There is a good chance that the domain will be IF-Sentinel.com, as this address is currently listed on the movie's official Twitter and showed up briefly on Summit's website before the link was removed. But we can't know for sure until the site has actually been launched.
However, if you go to another of Summit's domains with an Ender's Game title, endersgame-themovie.com ... see for yourself what happens.
IF obviously stands for "International Fleet", the organization that protects Earth from alien invasions and runs the Battle School academy where most of the movie will take place. And the term "sentinel" is commonly used for publications (periodicals or newspapers) and you find dozens of "sentinel" named newspapers in the U.S. alone. This should get very interesting as the website seems to intend to do more than just showing off press releases, stills and trailers!
Both Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld will be honored in a big awards ceremony at this year's CinemaCon convention which will be held from April 15-18 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Just a couple of hours before this ceremony, on April 18 at 2:30 PM, an exclusive product presentation from Lionsgate is scheduled at this location, and as it focuses on the studio's "2013 release schedule featuring several special guests," you can bet your house on the fact that Ender's Game will be prominently featured.
It is very possible that new materials - posters, banners, displays, stills, maybe even a trailer - will be released along with CinemaCon. Many studios have used that opportunity in the past to make movie imagery available to the public, although a mid-April date seems a bit early for Lionsgate to start pushing character posters or so, but you never know... so be alert in mid-April! And the April 18 date of the presentation is 197 days ahead of the Ender's Game theatrical release, exactly when the first teaser trailer for The Hunger Games was published.
If we don't get a trailer for CinemaCon, the studio has likely decided to release it along with a movie start that attracts a similar or related audience. Usually this strategy is used for a full feature trailer but sometimes the studios can surprise us. The first teaser trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was released with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 in November 2012 already, a full year ahead of its movie start. But this was just a 50-second-clip with a logo and a tagline and no footage at all. Ender's Game fans would be severely disappointed if the teaser trailer would contain no actual footage, so I doubt the studio will hold back on exciting imagery when our trailer comes out.
Let's have a look at movie starts that fit into the time frame and genre for an Ender's Game trailer release: Oblivion (April 19, Sci-Fi with Tom Cruise). The Big Wedding (April 26, Lionsgate release), Iron Man 3 (May 3, big budget blockbuster), Tyler Perry (May 10, Lionsgate release), Star Trek 2 (May 15, Sci-Fi blockbuster), After Earth (June 7, Sci-Fi feat. Will and Jaden Smith), Now You See Me (June 7, Summit Entertainment).
I believe it is more likely that Lionsgate would choose big blockbuster movie premieres over the studio's own releases when placing an Ender's Game trailer. The Hunger Games trailer was released 40 days after the poster, so if we assume an Ender's Game poster to be released next week we could expect a trailer for early to mid-May. And that points to Iron Man 3 or Star Trek 2 as the most promising titles if the studio decides to stick to its successful marketing schedule from The Hunger Games.
That's it for now with my speculation. But there's one more thing: Lionsgate officials have repeatedly stressed how much they value online marketing and the online community in general. I fully expect them to be imaginative and come up with something special for Ender's Game fans that is beyond a studio's usual marketing strategy. Just like they did for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire when they announced a sweepstakes competition where 12 fans will have their name listed in the film's credits.
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