Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk

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

How Star Wars’ 5 Biggest Brand Partners Activated Around Rogue One

For the second time in as many years, a new Star Wars movie is hitting theaters. This time it's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is striving for a more awkward title than even the prequel trilogy accomplished. The movie's story is … well … it's basically the one told in the opening crawl of the original Star Wars, the one we all started calling Episode IV or "A New Hope" just in the last 15 years or so.Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, the daughter of the man who helped design the Death Star, the technical terror that's part of the Empire's master plan to solidify its rule over countless planets. Jyn is a bit of a hellraiser who's recruited by the Rebel Alliance to help steal the plans for the ultimate weapon in the universe. So, she and a ragtag bunch of Rebels go undercover to try to uncover the space station's weak spots.The movie has received a big campaign, with a handful of trailers and plenty of TV spots that show Jyn and her multicultural crew, as well as Ben Mendelsohn as Orsen Kerrick, the Imperial officer they're hoping to foil—and a few hints at involvement by Darth Vader himself. There have also been significant efforts from a core group of five companies who signed on as promotional partners and who have used the movie as a springboard for their own efforts. Let's take a look at what they've been doing:

How the Studio Behind Miss Sloane Is Tracking the Link Between Ads and Ticket Sales

Miss Sloane tells the story of a high-power Washington, D.C., lobbyist (played by Jessica Chastain) who's asked to work on behalf of the gun lobby. Citing moral considerations, she refuses and instead takes on a project to work against the gun industry and its interests, skirting the law and risking her career to do so.It's an adult-skewing drama that's not a comic-book adaptation or franchise sequel/spinoff, but does feature what's said to be a powerhouse performance from Chastain in a story that's absolutely relevant given our current social climate.Because it doesn't come with the built-in name recognition of something like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Star Wars, EuropaCorp, the studio behind the movie, made Chastain the central focus of the campaign and sold the movie as a pulse-pounding thriller. The poster positioned Sloane hovering over the nation's capital like a benevolent god, and the trailers and TV spots sold the character as being in control and fearless, even in the face of one of the country's most powerful advocacy groups.But how did those ads and that campaign actually activate the audience?

Holiday Movies 2016: All The Films to See This Month, and How They’re Being Marketed

Harry: "Every year I just try to get from the day before Thanksgiving to the day after New Year's." Sally: "A lot of suicides."Yeah, it's a stressful time of year. Many of us are dealing with extended family more than we do any other time of year, and so are looking for moments of respite and escape. We might disappear into our phones, we might hide a small bottle of wine in the linen closet, or we might drive to Target and just sit in the parking lot for a sec.Hollywood is, of course, hoping we got to the movies. To that end, it's put together a December release slate that mixes in a little bit of everything, from family-friendly comedies to big-budget blockbusters to prestige dramas vying for awards consideration.Let's have a look at the contenders.

How Bad Santa 2 Is Using Artists to Make, and Share, Its Comically Dirty Ad Campaign

When Bad Santa 2 hits theaters this week, it will join a long list of releases this year that are sequels to movies made before Steve Jobs introduced the iPod. Or before Steve Jobs even returned to Apple in 1997.So far in 2016, we've seen Independence Day, Bridget Jones' Diary, Zoolander and others all received much-delayed new installments, though audience response to them varied greatly.2003's Bad Santa introduced us to Willie, a foul-mouthed drunk conman, played by Billy Bob Thornton, who dresses up as Santa Claus to get inside department stores when they're flush with cash during the holiday season. There are complications and problems, many of which he causes himself, and whatever the opposite of "heartwarming, inspirational holiday story" is, that was it.Now, 13 years later, Willie and his compatriot Marcus (Tony Cox) are back for more Christmas thievery, this time including Willie's mother, played by Kathy Bates. Instead of a department store (possibly a reflection of how the retail landscape is no longer the golden goose it was over a decade ago), the crooks have their eye set on a charity in Chicago, though all the characters are still as loathsome as they were when we first met them.

3 Ways That Spin-Offs of Movie Franchises Have Been Marketed to the Audience

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an expansion of the Harry Potter world, one that acts as a prequel to the book and film franchise we already know and mostly love, though we should talk about Chamber of Secrets at some point. More pragmatically, it's an opportunity for Warner Bros. to keep selling us movies based on J.K. Rowling's work now that the Potter books that served as the source material are done.One of the key persistent components of the Fantastic Beasts marketing campaign has been its frequent intonation of this being "From J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World," an attempt to draw the connection between this movie and those that have come before it. Without any characters carrying over from the previous stories, there needed to be some brand continuity, and the "Wizarding World" phrasing not only brings connotations of the earlier movies but also ties in nicely with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios. Franchise extensions like these and others are great ways for writers and directors to tell additional stories in universes they've already created. They're also a great way for studios to print some (presumably) easy money, even if the original stars are no longer available or interested in returning.There are three key ways that modern movie spin-offs have been presented to the audience, with each one tackling the question of brand continuity and audience recognition a bit differently.

6 Great Political Movies That Will Get You Psyched for Election Day

Today, the American people go to the polls—at least, those who haven't already taken advantage of early voting—to vote for president and a host of other national, state and local leaders. This year's election cycle, which has been going on approximately forever, has been particularly contentious, as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have attacked each other in what has sometimes been reminiscent of The Batley Townswomens' Guild re-enacting the Battle of Pearl Harbor.To take our minds off the horrific and caustic nature of this year's political environment, we're looking today at the trailers for a number of fictional presentations of American electioneering. Some of these are straight-up satire, some are upbeat comedies, some are more dramatic. But considering not a single one involves discussion of email servers or the word "bigly," they're all, by default, more enjoyable than what we've been going through.

Hollywood Not Vine: Why Movie Studios Never Really Embraced the 6-Second Video

Pour out a 40 and loop the video repeatedly until you scroll away for Vine.Twitter announced last week that it's discontinuing the mobile app, which allowed people to shoot and instantly share short videos, but will maintain the app and website so the content won't disappear forever. You just won't be able to create new video or continue engaging with what's there.

Will Fox Finally Find Some Consistency in Marketing the Latest Wolverine Movie?

When Fox was marketing X-Men Origins: Wolverine in the lead-up to its 2009 release (which went super well, as you'll remember), we were just a few years removed from the last X-Men team movie. Wolverine, as played by Hugh Jackman, was the breakout star of that series, in keeping with the character's overall popularity in the comics world. So it made sense that if the franchise were going to continue with a series of solo movies, Wolverine would kick things off. That movie, and 2013's The Wolverine, have been one of the mostly tonally inconsistent series in movies, at least in the modern era. So, with the trailer for Logan hitting the internet last week, it's a good time to look back and see how the feel of the franchise has shifted over the last seven years.

Why Rogue One Faces Marketing Challenges That No Other Star Wars Movie Has

Here we are, about two months out from the release of a new Star Wars movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It's safe to assume at least a decent percentage of you are waiting anxiously to head to theaters and journey once more to a galaxy far, far away. But the marketing and advertising for the movie has faced, and will continue to face, some interesting challenges that haven't been in front of previous movies.

2 New Movie Trailers From This Week Show How Hollywood Is Evolving the Format

There's been a movement in two directions over the past few years in how movie trailers are edited and assembled.They've adapted to new media platforms and audience tastes to more effectively and efficiently sell movies to audiences, making sure to present a product that has maximum appeal, showing a movie that is absolutely worth … whatever the call to action is. That might be dropping $10 and three hours at the theater, it might be the cost of a VOD rental, it might be the decision to maintain or begin a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription.Two bits of movie marketing from earlier this week show a couple of ways in which trailers are changing to get people's attention.