The 7 Biggest Movie Marketing Moments of 2018

From Crazy Rich Asians to a Cannes scandal, there was plenty to talk about

Tom Cruise, who famously does his own stunts, hangs from a helicopter while filming Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Paramount Pictures
Headshot of Chris Thilk

With so many media options available to modern audiences across all kind of platforms and devices, Hollywood marketers face greater pressure to get people’s attention. They have to reach those audiences in a way that makes a distinct and lasting impression and, more importantly, drives them to see their movies in theaters on opening weekend.

While that’s always been the goal, losing out on those critical few days means missing the one shot at dominating the cultural conversation. It also means that people are not paying attention to the film and are likely engaged with the other pieces of entertainment put in front of them.

To make a significant impact, some of this year’s biggest and most notable releases worked hard to generate buzz. Here are seven movie marketing executions that stood out among a sea of choice.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Gets Delivered by Amazon

The campaign for the latest installment in the dino franchise didn’t offer much in the way of hints as to the actual story. Instead, it was focused on the epic spectacle.

To help sell that, Universal Pictures partnered with Amazon on a promotional campaign that included videos of an Amazon worker dealing with a very large and dangerous package. That package featured a “SmileCode” that took those who scanned it to a landing page of Jurassic Park movies and other products. It culminated when Jeep joined in and transported that package to a Los Angeles event featuring the movie’s stars.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout Is Stunt-Tastic

It wasn’t so much a single stunt Paramount used to help sell the latest outing by Ethan Hunt and his Impossible Mission Force but rather a range of derring-do. More accurately, the focus throughout the campaign was on the stunts performed during production by the film’s star, Tom Cruise.

From the earliest moments of the marketing right up to the moment the movie was in theaters, the studio released a series of featurettes and clips showing how Cruise executed a HALO jump, the intense bathroom fist fight and the other stunt work. Throughout all that the theme was always on how Cruise did his own stunts and was up for anything the story required of him. That was even the subject of an Uber cross-promotional commercial showing how bored his stunt double was.

Crazy Rich Asians Sells Box-Office Diversity

In a year where diversity and inclusion were regular topics of conversation when discussing movies, this was one of the highest profile releases showing there were massive audiences for stories featuring mostly, if not solely, non-white actors and characters.

Indeed the whole campaign for this movie was a stunt in many ways. It unapologetically was a celebration of a culture that’s not often represented on screen. That paid off for Warner Bros. to the tune of $174 million at the box office and showed there’s an appetite for the kinds of movies frequently spiked because they’re seen as lacking commercial potential.

Venom Goes Rom Com on Home Video

2018 saw film studios embracing the official production of videos usually created by fans and shared on their YouTube channels. Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. both released “fan reaction” videos for movies like Avengers: Infinity War and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, seeking to mimic a familiar bit of content people would post when new trailers were released.

Along those same lines, Sony Pictures promoted the home video release of Venom with a promotional spot that recut footage from the film to make it look like a romantic comedy. These sorts of recuts are popular online, but now, along with similar videos from Netflix that turned To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Kissing Booth into horror films, they’ve come to the attention of Hollywood’s marketing teams looking to revitalize conversations about their movies.

@ChrisThilk Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategy consultant in the Chicago suburbs. You can find him at, where he shares his thoughts on content marketing, media and movie marketing.