Has Paramount Botched The Indiana Jones 4 Marketing?

Classic and timeless films are extremely rare. What’s even more rare, are classic and timeless franchises. Oh there are some good ones out there, but very few that can fit into that definition of legendary or worthy of the phrase “all time great”. Obviously there is the the greatest of them all, the original Star Wars trilogy. In more recent history a place at the table has to be kept for the Lord of the Ring trilogy and of course the Godfather trilogy (the only trilogies in film history where all 3 films were at least nominated for Best Picture at the academy awards).

Another trilogy belongs up among the company of the mighty… the Indiana Jones trilogy. Arguably the single greatest adventurer in the history of film. Like Star Wars, the Indiana Jones films helped define the pop culture of its time, and captivated a lot of imaginations… helping to perhaps even define our childhoods (at least for those of us old enough). Hell, I still remember going out into the local fields near our neighborhood and digging through the dirt with a gardening spade I took from my dad’s shed looking for ancient relics while pretending I was Indy himself.

The point here is, good movies come and go… the classics are immortal. Indiana Jones is immortal, and as such is more than just another movie or another movie franchise (I mean on a cultural level. Last I checked, watching an Indiana Jones film still doesn’t cure cancer). It’s a part of our cultural fabric. It’s a part of our childhoods. It’s a significant part of what we defined as our imaginations. It is classic.

For that very reason people around the world have waited patiently for years to see some of that immortality on the screen again. The on again / off again nature of a possible fourth Indiana Jones film disillusioned some fanatical fans (like myself) into ultimately believing a 4th Indy adventure would never actually happen. But here we are… less than 10 days away from Indiana Jones hitting the big screen once again. A film that fans and people all over the world have waited nearly 20 years to see. The greatest adventurer of all time is back. Regardless of how good or bad the film ultimately turns out to be… his return to the silver screen is something to be celebrated by not only fans, but by Hollywood itself. Indy picking up the whip once again is an event… it should be (in the immortal words of Darth Vader) a day long remembered.

But hold the phone. If you were 25 or younger… never having seen the original Indiana Jones trilogy (and there are a lot of you out there… you don’t know what you’re missing) and all you had to go by was the marketing for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that Paramount has been putting out… you’d think that just another action/adventure summer film was opening on the 22nd. Just another movie. Just another film. Because when I see all the marketing for Indiana Jones 4, I get no sense of it being an event, no sense of history, no sense of significance… no sense that we are seeing the return of the greatest adventurer of all time. All I’d be seeing is a bunch of trailers for an adventure movie staring an old guy with a hat.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the trailers for Indiana Jones 4 have been “bad”. I’ve actually liked them. But all they’ve done is to show me that they’ve got a new movie coming out amongst 40+ other movies also coming out this summer.

I remember when Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was getting ready to come out. Not only were the trailers amazing… the marketing for that movie was very specifically geared towards giving the public a sense of an event. WE WERE ABOUT TO SEE THE BIRTH OF DARTH VADER! That was the message in almost everything from trailers to poster to commercials to cereal boxes. It wasn’t just the MOVIE being promoted…. it was the EVENT that was being celebrated and we (as movie goers) didn’t feel like we were being pitched too…. we felt like we were being given personal invitations to attend the event! Sure the movie itself may have disappointed a lot of people, but before it opened, it was marketed as an event that shouldn’t be missed (and with $850 million world wide at the box office, not many people missed it).

With Indiana Jones 4, it shouldn’t have been any different. This should have been an event! The marketing for this film should have focused a lot more on the history, the cultural relevance, the legend and the legacy of Indiana Jones and the celebration of his triumphant return! Instead, we’ve got the marketing for just another (although good looking) action movie with Cate Blanchett sporting a Russian accent.

So what has the marketing department at Paramount done wrong here? I think a couple of things:

1) I think (please be clear that this is my own speculation) Paramount presumed that EVERYONE was lining up and dying to see Indiana Jones 4 regardless of how well or poor the marketing was.
They could be forgiven for believing that to a degree since it’s true for many people. But that thinking fails to recognize just how many in the movie going audience have never seen Indiana Jones in action before. It doesn’t take into account those who have, but are now disillusioned with George Lucas after the failings of the most recent Star Wars trilogy. As a political analogy, it’s almost like Paramount thought EVERYONE was going to vote for them in the election anyway, so they didn’t campaign properly…. I think they’re going to discover that was a mistake.

2) They failed to address how today’s audience may have a hard time with an action star that is 66 years old.
Marketing Indiana Jones as “just another action film” in a summer FILLED with great looking action films leaves the age thing open to being a problem. I’ve heard a lot of people 25 or under reference this very fact. Marketing Indiana Jones as a classic, an institution, a legend would have done a lot to counteract that. Indiana Jones is immortal, a character that defies time… it isn’t the PERSON of Indiana Jones you’re going to see… it’s the LEGEND. Age suddenly becomes a non-factor.

3) Forget Cate and Shia, everything should be focused on Indy.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Cate Blanchett and I really like Shia LaBeouf… but I think even casting them in this film was a mistake. The more you bring other big names and big stars into the mix, Indiana Jones 4 becomes more and more “just another action movie”. Anything that takes the focus off Indy (other than a great villain) weakens the “event” feel of the movie in my opinion. Big stars and big names are GREAT in almost any other summer blockbuster… but Indiana Jones should be putting as much of the spotlight on Indiana Jones as possible to highlight the uniqueness of the film as an INDIANA JONES film and not “just another action film”. The marketing should have been keeping that in mind.

There was a time not long ago (just weeks ago really) that I was 100% convinced that Indiana Jones 4 would be the #1 box office movie of 2008. However, I also believed at that time that Paramount would start promoting Indy 4 as the cultural event that it should be instead of just putting in a half assed effort and making it look like just another action film. Now I’m not so sure. I’d still probably bet on it ending up as #1, but my 100% conviction on the matter has dwindled to about 70% certainty.

Now keep in mind, I still think Indiana Jones will be a great movie. This post isn’t about how good or bad i think the movie itself will be… just on how I think the marketing has been mismanaged.

So what do you think? Has Paramount botched the Indiana Jones 4 marketing, do you think it’s been perfect as it is or do you think it’s somewhere in between? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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53 thoughts on “Has Paramount Botched The Indiana Jones 4 Marketing?

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  2. I think you are spot on. I also think the marketing to kids crosses the line and wrote a blog post about it…Raiders is my favorite movie of all time, no exaggeration. But I don’t want my 4 year old running around the house with a whip and I’m not going to have my 7 year old see any of the films. The original was R-rated for crying out loud.

  3. Great article and I wish more people would take notice. The biggest difference between my childhood and now is the marketing. Where are the great movie trailers? Great movie posters? Great music album covers? They don’t exist and thus most people don’t get excited about movies or music today. The movie and music industry can just suck it up! The little chump change they make today is because the faithful like myself who love movies continue to go to the theater. Give it 10 more years and the only revenue stream will be DVD movies and iTunes!

  4. I’ve only skimmed what has proceeded me, but has anyone brought up the point that the anticipation for the Star Wars prequels (thanks in part to the marketing) made it almost impossible for the movie to live up to expectations?

    Whereas two of my all-time favourite films (Braveheart and the original Matrix) had low-key marketing?

    The reality is this… great marketing will help you get an amazing opening weekend. A great MOVIE will generate the word of mouth ofr a healthy box office.

  5. I am a little saddened that they have barely shown Karen Allen in the ads. I have been waiting to see her come back since the second Indy move came out. She should have been in one before now and I can’t wait to see her again on screen.

  6. If anyone needs to be blamed for the marketing and the casting is Steven and George. They’re responsible for all the ads and promotion of this film. No one else. They’re the bigg dogg’s they have all the say in this.

  7. I can’t believe, after all the hype, all the speculation, all the hoopla, that this thing is less than a week away.

    Or as John puts it, the hoax will be complete in less than a week:)

  8. My son is almost 5 and has never seen any of the Indy movies, but from the moment he saw the first Crystal Skull trailer — the one referring to the original films and little new footage — Indiana Jones suddenly became the second most important thing in the house (Iron Man is #1).

    He wants to play Indiana Jones all the time and if I want to play with him, I have to be Mutt.

    So, he’s never seen the original films and he thinks that 65 year old Indiana Jones and his whip are the 2nd coolest thing out this year (remember, Iron Man is #1).

  9. John, I think you’re exaggerating a little bit on the whole “if you’re 25 or younger, you haven’t seen Indy in action” thing. Cuz I’m 21 and that trilogy is one of my all time favorites. I’m young as shit but you better believe my dad had me watchin all of those movies and then I would watch them on my own as well. Over and over and over again. I LOVED those movies. I didn’t care WHICH one I watched either. As long as it was Indy on the TV, I was happy. And a LOT of my friends, older AND younger, share exactly the same perspective.

  10. My brother and I grew up watching Indy and I’m 15.( the oldest) And my 7 year old sister has already seen all three. I think you under estimate us younger folks. Every one I know loves Indy and is dying to see it. It doesn’t matter that he’s old, to us he’s timeless. The marketing has sucked though.

  11. You’re right John. Many people who haven’t seen the Indiana Jones film will think that when Indy 4 comes around, for them, it’s gonna be just another action movie. I kinda feel the same way, but with something added to it. It’s gonna be just another action movie…just as Bourne Ultimatum was “another action movie.” Both are action movies, but Bourne got a good reaction (I’m surprised it didn’t land a nomination for best picture), and I know, even though I’ve never seen any Indiana Jones movie, I know that Indy 4 will be a film that a lot of people will see.
    But, also, I for one will not see it. I’ve never seen the films and I think if I go into this film not knowing the original stories, I’m gonna be thinking, “Damn this is confusing.” So for me I don’t think I’ll see Indy 4 unless I see the first films.

  12. But regardless of who is to blame I agree with your main point john that the marketing has not been exciting enough. Its fine for those who know who he is (even then it still a lacklustre) but regardless of what people say there is a huge number of younger filmgoers who don’t know Indiana Jones. And the marketing doesn’t really sell the importance of who he is and what these films are.
    But I believe it is all on purpose. They are deliberately doing a low key campaign to (hopefully) blow our minds with an awesome film.

  13. Lets also remember that Star wars for better or worse has always been bigger than Indiana Jones. So I don’t know why anyone would be expecting it to make Star Wars sized numbers. I will be surprised if this isn’t big but I don’t think it will make Star wars type dollars. Look I love Indiana Jones and I will probably go and see this twice possibly three times. I saw Phantom Menace 7 times and I fucking hated it but I had to keep seeing it. As most of you know that is what star wars fans do. we go overboard even when it sucks. Indiana Jones doesn’t have the type of following of geeks who will go over and over and over. So it will be huge but it won’t be Star wars huge.

    As for the marketing john, Spielberg is the most powerful director in Hollywood. He has final cut and final say on everything when it comes to his films. In the interview I saw Lucas pretty much admits the marketing campaign was all up to Steven as “its his film not mine” as he puts it. Its a funny interview as they tease each other all the way through. In fact Lucas throughout this whole release seems so relaxed and at ease. You can tell he is enjoying the stress not being all upon his shoulders.
    But do you really think that Paramount just went ahead with this strategy with no input or say from spielberg? of course not. He is one of the most powerful people in the history of cinema. It may be Paramounts money but there is no way they take control of the marketing. His deal/contract would give him more say over how the film is handled then any other director around. Lucas says as much in the interview.

  14. i truly believe that its not going to be that big of a hit. I hear people saying this is a sure thing to make 300 mil +, and i really see no reason why that would happen, TODAY.

    Maybe 200 mil or so, which is obviously good, but people are setting standards waaaaay too high for this, and i really dont think that the youngins out there are gonna flock to this movie like everyone assumes they will.

  15. Valid points made on the post John, but I think resurrecting a movie out of a graveyard dug so long ago just does not have the same appeal and anticipation.

    This 4th installment should have been made years ago. Maybe I would have been interested then and the marketing would have worked better, but not now.

    This whole Indy affair just sucks monkeys balls.

  16. Hey Nautica,

    You’re 100% correct. BUT… that was a different time. Indiana Jones hadn’t been gone for almost 20 years. The need to emphasis INDY himself wasn’t as big of an issue.

    My point was that Indy has been gone 20 years. As such, the marketing of the legend himself needed (in my opinion) to be emphasized.

  17. totally disagree with reason #3 john. sean connery is a much bigger name than cate and shia, but that worked out fine for the last crusade.

  18. I was right about predicting Speed Racer (let me thank myself) would not be a good movie or do well at the box office so let me take a whack at this. I think most of you are greatly underestimating the interest people have in Indy. Indy IV will be an above par adventure film and will dominate the box office having top numbers for the entire year. People will go to see this. Everyone will go to see this. And remember, it’s family friendly as well so grown ups will be taking their kids and vice versa if the kids are interested. So as far as money don’t you boys and girls worry; as far as quality I hope it is as good as the others! Here is hoping! Indy all the way!

    PS – If I’m wrong I will deny this up and down, :)

  19. I really don’t see how anyone can “disagree” with the basic points of this post

    Did they fail to make the return of Indy feel like an event? YES

    Have they marketed this film like any other summer movie? YES

    Are there a lot of people under 25 who haven’t seen the original trilogy? YES

    Are there some people who are uncertain due to Lucas’ recent track record? YES

    The post is totally accurate. The question is do I agree with the conclusion that all that results in paramount botched it? Personally I think so, but not “train wreck” level of botching. Indy will still make more money than anything else. It just probably would have made more.

  20. @ Darren

    I am completely confused by your first paragraph in your post relating to what Andrew and I said and the awareness factor. Hang on, let me re-read it….

    OK, I said that people under (let’s say 25) don’t care about Indiana Jones. But I do think there is a high level of awareness of this film. Like I said, I’m not really sure what you were saying in regards to what I said in my posts. Care to clarify?

    As far as people being “broke” and not being able to see Indiana Jones….I don’t buy that at all. If you’re really interested in seeing a movie, you’re going to save up that amount of money for a ticket, especially for a film LIKE Indy Jones. If people don’t go see it, it’s not because they were broke, it’s because they didn’t care.

    Also, on a side note, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Young Indiana Jones. Whenever I have got the boxsets I have sat there for hours and watched them back-to-back as much as possible (and those episodes are 2 hours each).

    In fact, I just got Vol. 3 (which just came out) and watched the first disc immediately as soon as I got it in my mailbox.

    I honestly never was a HUGE fan of Raiders. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the movie, but I always preferred Last Crusade and Temple over Raiders. Dunno, I just think each movie brings something different to the table and I like what the last two offered the most. *shrug*

  21. I wonder if Lucas just has a bit of paranoia about ‘event’ marketing and the massive lash-back when episode 1: f–ing jar-jar came out. I almost always leave the theater underwhelmed by the over-marketed movies.

    Even IronMan, which was a great movie, left me really wanting one more action sequence that would blow me away. Part of me wonders if the Dark Knight movie will be the same for a lot of people who are expecting massive doses of the Joker when large parts of the movie are at least rumored to be two-face. On the other hand, I was not expecting much at all from Die Hard 4, and it blew me away.

    They probably assume that people who grew up with the movies will want to see this, and bring their kids. The timing of the movie is about right for everyone who grew up loving the films will be old enough to have kids who can appreciate the films. Honestly, the 18-24 demographic goes to the movies already, its the older crowds that they have to bring in to make this a hit.

    Also, I expect there to be more repeat viewings with kids, because of all movies suitable for kids, how many will the parents enjoy and want to see more than once. So maybe not a huge opening, but a longer revenue stream.

    Another also, part of the marketing is networks like SciFi who are showing specials about the crystal skulls legend, along with showing the original movies

  22. As much as I’m sure I will love the new film simply because its Indy, I have to agree with John.

    I’m pumped for it, I knew about it early on from reading this website and a few others.

    But if I didn’t have these sites at my disposal? Well I probably wouldn’t know all that much about it. My parents were the people that got me into Indiana Jones, being 25 right now. I asked them just a week or so ago if they knew a new Indiana Jones was coming out, they had no idea, and they are the type of people that hardly ever go to movies, but just mentioning Indiana Jones and they are ready to hit up the theater.

    Keeping things low key versus not advertising the product well are two completely different things. We don’t want it so low key that people don’t bother to go see it.

    Though on the subject of 25 or younger crowd not knowing all that much about Indiana Jones, well I’d say perhaps its the 22 and younger crowd, at least in my area. Most people here are well versed in the ways of Indiana.

    Though most people of young college age around here also have about an IQ of 2 most of the time, so I wouldn’t be surprised if between the constant college parties they’ve forgotten to actually use their senses and minds and notice one of the greatest franchises of all time is making a comeback.

  23. My gripe :::
    Why havent they fixed the way the title appears on screen at the end of every trailer/teaser trailer ????? it ends way too fast to even read the name of the movie. it seems like they want to pack so many shots into the trailers that by the time they get to the title… no time :( annoying

    also im 24, i never really watched the movies or at least couldnt remember all the events that happend, so i watched all 3 a month ago. Yeaaa…. a lil over rated!
    1 is good.
    2 is annoying,
    3 is better than 2 just because of the grail ending.

  24. I think it’s mostly two factors:

    1) Spielberg is obviously being extraordinarily tight with his footage, as he’s said in that interview with Lucas. There appear to be huge sections of this movie that we haven’t even glimpsed because he doesn’t want people knowing where the movie is going. I think, as someone in marketing, that having your hands tightly tied makes it really difficult to do your job. For example, one of the things these trailers are missing is any introduction scenes. Footage of one character meeting another is a good way to introduce audiences to a film. But there’s nothing of Marion and Indy together again for the first time, same with John Hurt’s (possibly playing) Abner Ravenwood. And nothing really of Indy meeting Mutt.

    2) However, I’m not sure if they botched the marketing, John, (even in spite of the Spielberg footage lockdown) because with Ford’s age coupled by a 20 year cinematic absence, I doubt you can do a whole lot to get kid’s who weren’t even alive in 1989 when the last film came out interested in seeing another. Do you think the summer movie crowds who pushed Iron Man to the top of the box office have EVEN SEEN all three of the original Indy films? Maybe not.

    In other words, it could be the audience for this is smaller than all us geeks want to believe and the marketing campaign is certainly ensuring this film will be a surprise –good (fingers crossed) or bad (dear God, no) for those who ARE interested. And at least the trailers haven’t given me and immediately preconceived notions of what to expect.

    Of the film franchises making a cinematic return after a two decade absence these past few years, none of them have performed very well: Superman Returns, Rocky and Rambo all pretty much under-performed during their marketing campaigns, none of which struck be as being botched — although I do recall Bryan Singer rather unconvincingly shifting some of the blame to the marketing for Supes.

  25. @NBA and Andrew:

    You are not alone.
    I thought Gio flipped his cookies in this post. The idea of anyone under the age of 25 not being aware of/not interested in seeing this…I don’t buy it. That’s not putting much faith in an audience if you ask me. Let’s say they “don’t” care who Indy Jones is, they don’t want to see Harrison Ford (and true, Ford isn’t the brand name he used to be, despite being a great actor) – but they (and this being in simplistic terms) would know who George Lucas is. They would know who Steven Spielberg is.

    There is a high awareness level for the film. I’m sorry, John. On that I have to disagree.


    Yes, well, while I will defend the marketing strategy (to a point, I think trailers need a tad bit more, esp. Karen Allen more)….here’s my food for thought.

    *I loved Raiders. I liked Temple Of Doom. I loathed Last Crusade. There were some high points of the Young Indy series, and most of the lows have since been excised. I’m in my late 30’s, and have my skepticism, but for entirely different reasons.

    *If Indy does not do well, it won’t be due to marketing. It will be either because the film wasn’t that good (and it does not help if Lucas comes out and says don’t have high expectations..whose fault would that be!) OR because people are broke after seeing “Iron Man” for the zillionth time (nothing wrong with that) and “Prince Caspian”.

    *Mummy 3 opens sometime later this summer. That’s this gen’s ‘Raiders’, more or less. Sad, isn’t it?

    On a related note:

    Product tie-ins can’t save a film if the film sucks. Sometimes folks get stuck with …junk. Let me ask somebody: what the hell is the point of having mint M&Ms with Indy Jones and someone thinks “they buy it because Indy Jones stuff is on the wrapper” instead of “Mint M&M’s. I’ll try some”?

    I noticed the Kellog’s cereals. Well…take a closer look and then take the Eagle Eye Challenge. The front of Corn Flakes has an image of Ford as Jones circa 1989. Other artwork features original Raiders artwork. Skull stills are few and small on the back of the box. Shia LaBouf is more noticeable that Harrison Ford.

    I buy this box, some marketer might say “Indy Jones on Corn Flakes was a hit!” BULLSHIT! I don’t care, I just want my damn Corn Flakes!

  26. I’ve been thinking about this a little bit, and I was reminded of some stuff I’ve been reading about mass marketing. That being that more and more, people are switching off to mass media advertising. In a way the advertising for Indy has followed the standard template for every big budget movie over the last decade.
    Fast Food chain tie in? Check
    Chocolate bar tie in? Check
    Line of action figures? Check
    Mr Potato head figure? Check
    Perhaps the overall lack of ‘hype’ for this movie has to do with the fact that this whole marketing approach is losing it’s impact. It’s not innovative any more, and doesn’t catch our attention like it once did. By contrast Dark Knight has been doing the whole viral marketing approach for months, and has far less marketing out there… and yet IMO seems to be getting a lot more hype.

  27. Interesting question John.

    Did Paramount decide to put the marketing for this film on cruise control? Definitely yes.

    Was it the right decision?


    The thing here is that the target market for this film is for the people that saw the films originally. ie the folk over 25+ years in age. They are going to see it irregardless of how much marketing dollars Paramount threw at it. And that demographic makes up the largest population demographic even though they don’t make up the largest segment of the movie going demographic.

    As to marketing it for the under 25 age group – I can only surmise that Paramount determined that there was no way they could promote a 66 year old Harrison Ford – an actor with no hits in the last 10 years – that that demographic could relate to.

    Paramount is treating like a family movie hoping that the original fans will bring their kids and if there is any spill over effect that brings in the teen to 25 years of age demographic, Paramount will treat it as gravy.

    That decision could have been easier once they saw a cut of the film too.

    Did Paramount botch it? In the end, I don’t think so.

    I do agree with other posters that have stated this movie was made too late. But not 3 or 4 years too late but more like a decade too late.

  28. I guess your opinion Mr Robert Clare Forest is the opinion of everyone then, seeing as you believe your take on it is good enough to mock someone else’s

    Maybe you shoulds take a look at your own ego pal, because you sound like a prick, no one here is blindly following someone else’s opinion, if you bothered to read, most have given rather lengthy replies and reasons, something you have obviously failed to see.

    The marketing & trailers for this film have left me feeling down, I have no anticipation, no urge to go and see the film, the only thing that will get me to the cinema it the fact its Indy and will bring back somthing of childhood.
    They are missing a huge market, who dont have the urge to see the film due to nostalgia and it could prove to be a massive mistake in terms of making this film as big as they anticipate it to be.

    If you took away the music and very few clips of fords face in the newer TV & cinema trailers, I wouldnt look twice at the film, its look no better than a straight to TV afternoon flick, now tell me why anyone who has little or no connection to the original trilogy would want to see this movie.

    also tell me how an up and coming actor like shia is going to bring in the under 25’s? he’s hardly a big star yet, and will have little influence on bringing in the numbers.
    Cate Blanchett again, hardly a person who will personally draw an audiance especially to the under 25 crowd, so in that sense I disagree with you both, as I dont believe they take away from fords presense and I also dont believe they are big enough stars to draw in extra numbers to a film of this type.

    This film will not be massive, it will bring a decent return, but they have already screwed it up, you only have to look at the general feel of the movie that is floating around to assess that.

  29. Not that it matters but here are my 2 cents…..

    I work part time in a video store and for the past 4-5 weeks all three Indy flicks have been checked out over and over and over.
    I am not a fan of the movie series so I have not been paying attention to the trailers but I am guessing everyone else has seen them and cant wait.
    Plus I dont think you can just forget about Shia….I am not a fan of his but I think it helps putting him in the trailer to get the younger kids in the theater.

  30. Maybe I dont have love for films as everyone as I thought they were all average but I am only now getting mildly hyped about this film because of this site

  31. I am not going to stroke your ego and make you feel comfortable about your opinion. I disagree with everything that you wrote. O.K., so I do see what you are saying about the under 25 year old market. But, most of them have parents who have introduced them to the character and have been excited about the picture being made (waiting 20 years for it), thus have made their children aware of the fact that ‘INDY’ is a film god!

    As far as Shia and Kate being in the film and focussed on in the trailers… aren’t you overlooking the fact that the under 25 crowd will go to see the film just because of these two people being in it? Maybe? …I have taken many a marketing course and think they did nothing wrong. Every theatre you walk in has Indy Marketing everywhere! Burger King has an f’n ‘INDY WHOPPER’ for gods sake. I think that you overlooked a lot of things to write an overtly lengthy blog about something you wanted people to value your opinion about and that you just wanted to inflate your (already overly bloated) EGO!

    Having said that. I do generally enjoy your web page and I do generally enjoy your takes and opinions. This one just was way off base and I can’t believe that you have so many people blindly obeying and bowing to you by agreeing with you and saying that you are correct.

  32. I agree that the marketing hasn’t really created a huge buzz about this film. I cant put my finger on what it is, but it just seems to lack the hype that it should have.

    The nostalgia factor is there, the first trailer is half classic footage. The action figures and lego toys are all based on the classic films. The saturation is there, as all the standard tie-ins have been put in place. But it seems to me more people are hyped about Dark Knight than Indy.

    One thing I found quite ridiculous, is that in the lead up to this film, I couldn’t find the classic trilogy on DVD anywhere here. How are people supposed to learn about the legacy of the character when we can’t even watch the damn movies? They should have been the best marketing tool, with big display set ups in every store, selling them for a throw away price, just to get people hyped about seeing ANOTHER film.

    I agree with some of your points John, and disagree with others, but overall you are correct that the “feel” that you would expect just isn’t there.

  33. Oh my lord. The thought that someone in our western civilization with access to a TV hasn’t seen any Indy-film (or doesn’t even know they exist) just boggles my mind. I simply can’t get my head around it. It’s like not knowing STAR WARS.
    I don’t know, to me the marketing for the new film seems fine. You just shouldn’t pander to people who don’t know Indy. Those kinds of people shouldn’t even be allowed to vote or drive a car.

  34. Once again, John, I disagree with your analysis of the marketing as far as the nostalgia factor goes and concur with Andrew.

    The marketing (trailers) has very clearly been heralding this as the return of Indiana Jones and indicating it’s a big deal. I just don’t think they’re that effective and I don’t necessarily agree with the way that they’re doing it, but I can’t really see any HUGE mistakes in that area…

    Someone else might chime in on this and let me and Andrew know if we’re nuts, or if John just has a misconception here from something he’s missing or seeing the wrong way, or if he’s seeing something that’s missing that we’re obviously not.

    I mean, John: how would YOU be marketing this? Like what would you change in the trailers that you are seeing/not seeing, with regards to the nostalgia factor and the fact that after almost 20 years, this movie has finally arrived?

  35. Hey Andrew,

    Obviously it’s a sequel. But Rush Hour 2 was obviously a sequel too. They have barely alluded to the legacy of the character in this marketing campaign. Do you really disagree with that?

    It’s cool if you don’t think that’s a big deal… but do you really think they have emphasized that?

  36. Isn’t the entire first half of the trailer reminiscing on all the previous films? Then it shows Indy in silhouette as an iconic figure with iconic music. Sure some kids haven’t seen it, but I think the trailer (at least the first one) makes it pretty clear that this is a sequel/big deal. I’m not sure I agree with your analysis.

  37. I disagree that under-25s don’t want to see a 60 year old action hero. When Rambo came out all of my friends went to see the movie and were excited about it even though we have never a single rambo movie. I think if a movie looks cool our demographic will go see it regardless of the age of the action hero. And it’s got Shia LaBeouf who is a big draw for teens/young adults. I was reading an article today where they said that the tracking for this movie was showing a $160-170 million opening 5 day weekend. With that kind of an opening this movie will easily have a solid shot at highest gross of the year. Also Batman’s box office potential is being seriously overestimated. The first batman movie grossed 205 million domestically, while that is a very box office result it is certainly not highest grossing megahit. For some reference, by the end of this week Ironman would have accumulated a higher domestic gross in 3 weeks then Batman Begins entire domestic gross. I personally think that ‘The Dark Knight’ is going to find it hard to come in the top 5 let alone #1 for th highest gross.

  38. Another thing – I don’t think that kids will be lining up at this movie to see Shia…his draw is NOT THAT big, and I don’t think kids really care about Shia that much. And really, they haven’t been pushing Shia at all in the marketing that I’ve seen on TV and let’s face it – kids (as with the majority of people) get most of the information about movies from TV. They don’t go online and research movies, and that’s where all the marketing involving Shia has been.

    The “kids” you mentioned who are fans of Shia (as I am/was) are probably all older by now (seeing as Even Stevens was YEARS ago). Do they still show Even Stevens on Disney?

    I think if they are there, it will be because they were taken by parents or they were already fans of the series.

    And I’m not saying you’re particularly wrong – maybe I’ve been watching all the wrong TV spots – I’m just saying, I personally haven’t seen a big marketing push involving Shia like you claim there is.

  39. James mentioned the marketing ties to Burger King…the only thing I’ve seen is a poster of the King wearing Indy gear and advertising some online game.

    The M&Ms tie-in is correct, but I still don’t think all this marketing you mentioned is getting people excited for it.

    However, I will give you – the Indy Jones Lego site IS fun! There’s a really fun side-scroller, etc. But the thing that’s missing is Indy 4 details. The site is really just about Indiana Jones, not about The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.

    I mean, hey, you could be correct, little kids could be absolutely loving it and Nickelodeon could be saturating them with Indy stuff. I don’t have cable so I don’t know. I just don’t think it’ll work the way you think it will.

    BTW, I don’t agree with the viewpoint that they’re marketing this as “just another movie”. I think they ARE advertising it as a spectacle, I just think they’re doing a piss-poor job of it.

  40. You’ve taken the words out of my mouth for the most part John (i was gonna say what an event Revenge of the Sith was made out to be). All i know is the power of the carboard display in my local theatre lobby is enough to get people there opening weekend. That’s not the problem.

    What’s missing is the huge excitment for the movie, the actual desire to see it. The trailers have been so weak for me that i have no ‘desire’ to see the movie. I’m seeing it out of obligation; because i love movies and it’s Indiana Jones.

  41. “And Steven Spielberg doesn’t get to decide how the film is marketed. Paramount does… it’s their money.”

    Yes and no. Spielberg is probably one of only a handful or people in Hollywood who has final cut on EVERYTHING. Going into a project, that is stipulated. Spielberg has final say on the trailers, tv spots, and poster art.

    So, it’s Paramount’s film per se, but to get the film made…to get Spielberg on board, means that they play by his rules.

    I would like to add though, you guys haven’t been paying attention enough to the commercial blitz. Marketing for this film is out the wazoo. From Burger King to Dr Pepper, they are going after all age demographics.

    I can’t get out of the grocery store without seeing Indy ice cream bars or M&M’s being scanned at the checkout lane.

    The hottest selling toyline right now? Lego Indiana Jones. Kids are eating this stuff up. Go check out the website or watch Nickelodeon..there are spots every commercial break. The Lego Indy site is one of the craziest things I’ve seen on the web.

    All the spots emphasize Indy and Mutt..and adventuring! Trust me, through parents and the new marketing push, the kids will be there. Kids already know Shia LaBeouf..I mean, he’s been a staple for young adult programming for years now.

    Cate Blanchett and Ray Winstone are names but, more importantly, they are great actors. I know many people who are just as excited to see them as they are Harrison or Shia. I don’t get the argument that they are detracting from the spotlight. Go to indianajones.com and watch the 12 trailers…they mostly focus on Indy. I’m not sure how that point of emphasis is being missed by you guys.

    I don’t know if Indy will be the year’s biggest bankroll, nor do I see the point in caring about the box office dog and pony show, but I do know that the fever for this film is a lot greater than you guys are giving it credit for.

  42. It’s hard to market something like Indiana Jones when compared to something like Star Wars. Star Wars had it’s own realized universe, you didn’t necessarily need Luke, Han, and Leia to tell new stories in
    that Universe, Indiana Jones on the other hand begins and ends with the man himself, Harrison Ford. Also, people had been asking for and anticipating the Star Wars Prequels ever since Lucas labeled the first movie “episode 4”.

    When the Star Wars prequels were first announced most people were excited, where else Indy 4 was met with nervous optimism at best or was outright mocked due to Indy being well into his sixties. Also a lot of people had assumed this series was over after the third one, myself included. Indy kind of falls into the category of “well look forward to it, despite no one really asked for it” kind of like Die Hard Live Free.

    Personally, I hope this movie is great, but I can’t shake the feeling the only reason this movie exist is to scare up some quick and easy cash for Paramount and as a vehicle to showcase Paramount/Dreamworks golden boy Shia Labeouf.

  43. Hey George,

    I’m certainly not talking about how much of the movie they give away, or how MUCH marketing is being done… but rather what the strategy of the marketing is. What they’re emphasizing. How they’re presenting the film.

    My thing is that they’re just promoting this as any other movie. Which (in my opinion) is a mistake.

    And Steven Spielberg doesn’t get to decide how the film is marketed. Paramount does… it’s their money.

    Having said that, I don’t disagree with your assessment that it’s not a bad idea to keep certain things about the movie under wraps.

  44. You’re absolutely right John. I have two sons. Both of which knew nothing of Indiana Jones until I gave them a weekend marathon of him…They’re hooked now. The Indiana Jones brand is an old one and for our children’s generation to know who he is, it is up to a responsible adult to tell them. Fear not though, my kids are no longer deprived; of Indy at least!

  45. This is Spielbergs call. Just read an interview with him and Lucas and Lucas is teasing Spielberg all the way through it about the way he wanted the marketing done and how secretive Spielberg wanted to be. Lucas says that Spielberg hates the way the internet gives everything away and wants people to know as little as possible before they go in. Lucas told him he needs to embrace the future and not fight it.
    Spielberg goes on to say he has purposely wanted the marketing to be low key.

    Lets face it Lucas is hardly against gigantic marketing campaigns so I wouldn;t blame him for this. Hell he is one of the masters at over saturation.

    I personally like the low key approach. Why hail it like the second coming and run the risk of hyping it to a place that the finished film can never reach.

  46. Another reason this won’t make as much as they thought:

    A) I believe this movie will SUCK. I have no hope for this movie, and I hope I’m completely wrong, but I think it will suck and people won’t like it.

    B) Even if it DOESN’T suck, I think people won’t accept it as another great Indiana Jones film – I think Lucas is exactly right when he says the film won’t live up to everyone’s expectations. Everyone has their own idea of what this movie should be and there’s no way this movie can deliver that.

    Much as I dislike a lot of Lucas’ decisions in past years, the guy speaks truth a lot of the times. He knows people are gonna hate it regardless of what he did with the story, even if he did the right things.

    Does this excuse not using the Darabont script? Absolutely not, but give the guy SOME credit. There’s no way he can please most people with this movie.

  47. And when you go on a TV show to promote your film, you shouldn’t even be allowed in the damn studio unless you have a fucking clip to show. By not showing any clips, by not telling ANY plot details(I’m not talking spoilers, I mean a basic goddamn plot), you’re not attracting any new viewers, which you need to do in order for your film to do the ridiculous numbers that everyone is throwing around. $200 million for the five day? MY ASS.

  48. I think there’s two parts of this problem:

    A) They waited too long to make another one – it should have been within 3-4 years of the Last Crusade.

    B) I called into the show a couple of weeks ago describing this epidemic of kids/young people today not appreciating classic cinema. I think Indiana Jones is something that the younger people just don’t care about. They’re all into Batman and Meet the Spartans nowadays and couldn’t care less about an “old” movie or movie star who’s in his 60s.

    That’s just my take on the cultural situation.

  49. Took the words right out of my mouth. This movie is anticipated, but not to the rabid fever pitch that people online are saying. You really think the under-25 crowd, one of if not THE biggest moviegoing demographic, wans to go see some old man swinging around? Most younger people, believe it or not, HAVE NEVE EVEN SEEN AN INDY FILM BEFORE. I know this from personal experience. I just recently saw Raiders all the way through for the first time. As a member of the film committee for my school, it’s my job to organize film events on campus. I suggested showing Raiders as part of our annual outdoor film fest since the new movie is coming out, and a girl said to me, SWEAR TO GOD, “What’s Raiders?”. I asked for a show of hands of people who hadn’t seen any Indy movies before. In a room of about 20 twenty-year-olds, at least twelve of them raised their hands. You really think they are pumped to see this? Fuck no! I am in the demographic that this film needs to convince in order to be the biggest hit of the year: people who aren’t major Indy fans. I’m not going to a midnight show for this. I wouldn’t even be going opening weekend if not for my dad already getting our tickets(love you Daddy!). Paramount has assumed that simply saying the name of the movie and the release date over and over in commercials will bust the block, but I keep on saying that this is not the case and people jump on me for it. I’m ready to get jumped on right now in the comments below for it, but I stand by my statement that Indy 4 will NOT be the biggest film of this year. Until I am potentially proven wrong on December 31th, I will stand by that statement. The arrogance of Paramount in their marketing for this film is honestly astounding to me. Yes, the movie will make money. The movie will make a lot of money. But I’m willing to bet that The Dark Knight can beat it.

  50. Solid article. Yeah, I was actually talking to my girlfriend a few days ago after we saw the trailer and she asked “what’s the big deal”. It broke my heart to hear her say that, but I guess it sort of proves your point.

  51. Look, all I can do is report what I’ve personally seen and felt.

    A) The original trailers SUCKED in my opinion. The trailers ended up featuring bad CGI/blue screen and crappy music and wasted time recapping past adventures.

    The last 30 second trailer on TV I saw actually perked my interest a lot, so I was happy there.

    Now, Harrison Ford got on The Tonight Show to pimp Indy 4. And did a HORRIBLE job at it. TERRIBLE.

    A) Most of the interview revolved around what tv shows he watches with his kid.

    B) When Indy 4 came up, all they did was show a 10 second spoof making fun of the fact that people thought Harrison Ford was too old to play Indy.

    C) Secondly, when they were talking about Indy 4, all Harrison Ford did was make fun of the fact that people thought it was going to suck, and just kept saying, “yeah it’s gonna suck. Don’t waste your money. Watch something else.” Funny, but hardly anything to get anyone on the fence to come over to the Indy side of things.

    D) They talked NOTHING about the plot, NOTHING about ANY aspect of the movie, except that Harrison thought it was the best Indy film they’ve ever done.

    The interview was shit and Harrison Ford didn’t even look like he was comfortable doing an interview. This interview I don’t believe came out like it was intended. Partially Leno’s fault, partially (but more) Ford’s fault.

    In fact, Leno kept saying there had been no screenings, no plot information revealed, etc. While the screenings thing MAY be true (to a certain degree), there has been TONS of information that has come out. And Ford was just like, “yeah you have to see it all at once.” WHAT?!?! BULLSHIT. GIVE ME A REASON TO SEE THIS MOVIE!

    I personally haven’t been too impressed by what I’ve seen with the marketing on this thing, and if I had to guess I would say most other people aren’t either.

    Now as far as marketing goes on Shia and Cate, I haven’t seen the marketing you’re referring to (at least in trailers) that feature them more than Indy. I’ve only seen that in pictures online. *shrug*

    Most people I talk to seem more interested in The Dark Knight this summer than Indiana Jones. We will see.

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