If You Promote a Movie 30,000 Feet in the Air, Will Anyone See?

You've got to hand it to the gang at Dreamworks -- they are really trying to promote the hell out of their $80 million robot boxing movie Real Steel. Earlier this week, the studio stuck the film's star Hugh Jackman into a WWE Raw ring in front of 15,000 wrestling fans who, it's safe to say, were not too familiar with the work of the Tony Award-winning Australian. A strained, scripted and shameless six minutes worth-of Real Steel-shilling ensued. Today, meanwhile, mega-scale shows of Real Steel marketing continue -- at LAX

There, the studio, Virgin America and Jackman himself will unveil a new A320 aircraft named Real Steel at a press conference shortly before the plane takes off on one of its first commercial flights. The question lingers though: Will this high-altitude marketing ploy sway anyone to actually see this movie?

First though, more details. The press release circulating today explains that the partnership between Real Steel and Virgin actually starts within the film due in theaters Oct. 7: "With tech-forward amenities generations ahead of any other airline in the U.S., Virgin America, will make a cameo appearance in DreamWorks Pictures' Real Steal." So Virgin America is also a star in Real Steel, which makes today's airport event slightly more organic.

But will anyone notice this Real Steel plane and be swayed to see the robo-boxing movie that wouldn't have seen it beforehand? Probably not. The only people seeing this mile-high ad are the passengers, flight attendants, pilots, technicians, terrorists and travelers watching the vehicle take off and land nearby. Even then, we are not yet sure how big the decal of Jackman's onscreen boxing robot, Atom (which will be outfitting the plane) will be. (I would prefer if the entire plane was skinned to look like Atom and programmed to shadow dance with 13-year-old boys boarding the plane like the film's robot, but I was not consulted.)

Passengers are more likely to see the movie when they notice that it is available for in-flight viewing later this year thanks to the studio's exclusive partnership with the airline. As for the rest of the world, they will probably just be confused when they stumble upon pictures tomorrow of Jackman posing with Virgin America flight attendants (a visual that is promised to press in the release) and wonder when Jackman's remake of Catch Me If You Can hits theaters. Was there a better way for Dreamworks to spend their marketing energy? Probably, like on collectible cans of Dr. Pepper, shadow dancing robots, more city bus skins and billboards and anything having to do with fast food. But in today's marketing environment, I guess you have to get all of the mileage you can out of each onscreen partnership.

· Virgin America Unveils DreamWorks Pictures Real Steel Plane [Reuters]


  • John John says:

    This is the second article you've written indicating that WWE fans would not be familiar with Hugh Jackman. Maybe you're the one unfamiliar with Hugh Jackman. He's primarily thought of as an action hero and has been for 10 years. We're not talking about Michael Sheen or Philip Seymour Hoffman here.