It can be interesting to “pull back the curtain” from time to time to see how things work. Or, at least, to see how they are supposed to work.
The “thing” in this case is publicity; the rollout of a title for home entertainment. It should be done professionally and include a press announcement that has little details like the title, format configurations, dates, a “pitch” as to why this particular title (or promotion) is worthy of your attention, bonus features (detailed is best) and artwork. You can throw in extra “stuff,” like a really detailed synopsis or quotes from media critics, but if you get the basics right, you’ve produced something that is serviceable.
It’s a checklist, but you’d be surprised how many announcements arrive missing some of the aforementioned details. And you might even be surprised as to how some PR firms can’t even get the distribution right and have to be rescued by their employer.
Which brings us to Lionsgate Home Entertainment, a “Hollywood” studio with a very busy release schedule. Titles and promotions that are to be released as DVD, Blu-ray and/or the newly-launched 4K Ultra HD format are added to their release calendar each week like clockwork.
To handle this load, Lionsgate’s PR staff hires independent public relations companies to work specific titles — some are hired on a one-off basis, while others are out there on a regular basis pitching new product offerings from the studio week in and week out.
As we move into the post-Labor Day period it becomes more and more important for home entertainment companies to get the word out about new products being released. It’s the prime selling-season of the year — Labor Day to Christmas — and it is very competitive.
The big summer blockbusters will be found here. Lots of complete season TV series collections and major catalog promotions also get street dates during this period.
With this in mind, Lionsgate Home Entertainment handed out a couple of assignments last week for recent theatrical releases that will be available as either DVD, Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD product offerings on Sept. 6. One is a theatrical hit, perhaps even a new franchise series for the studio (which is really important) and the other is a little film; an arthouse film that had some nice reviews and it will appeal to a certain audience. One is BIG bucks and the other is lesser so, but important just the same.
Two PR firms — which, we will not mention here by name — were recruited to handle the respective press announcements. One did a stellar job, while the other screwed up the launch of a major title for the fourth time — seriously, four times and they still can’t get it right.
The announcement for the “little” film, director Michael Grandage’s film adaptation of the A. Scott Berg biographical work, “Max Perkins: Editor of Genius” — which was shortened for the screen to just Genius — was delivered flawlessly.
As mentioned, Genius will be available on Sept. 6. The DVD-only release arrives with an ARR of 88 days and ticket sales for the film’s limited theatrical break totaled $1.3 million.
For those unfamiliar with the film (at its widest release the film only reached 152 screens nationwide), it tells the story of famed literary editor Max Perkins (played by Oscar-winner, Colin Firth — The King’s Speech) and his often-stormy relationship with writer Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law). Perkins, not only discovered Wolfe — and worked with him to bring “Look Homeward, Angel” to market, but he also discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West) … that’s right, Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Wolfe!
Bonus goodies include a pair of featurettes — “Genesis of Genius” and “Painting A Portrait of the Lost Generation.”
The second film streeting on Sept. 6 is a major film asset for Lionsgate. This is a big deal … this is director Jon M. Chu’s Now You See Me 2. Indeed, this is a franchise in the making, with Now You See Me pulling in $117.7 million domestically, Now You See Me 2 following with $63.5 million and Now You See Me 3 already in the works (likely 2018).
So you would expect the PR film handling the DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and 4K Ultra HD press announcement would make every effort to get it right. They had already screwed up the announcements (yes, that’s plural) for Liongate’s Dirty Grandpa, Witch and Gods of Egypt, so with that sort of muddled track record they might have used the time from last April to mid-July to have gotten their collective act together for Now You See Me 2. But, sadly, NO.
When the title began popping up at Amazon.com and distributor Ingram’s website this past week for delivery on Sept. 6, the manager of home entertainment publicity at Lionsgate (and fellow MGM alum) was contacted and quizzed about the date. Moments later a reply was forthcoming with a copy of the press release and sure enough, listed down there in the “boiler plate” was the same inept culprit that was still “processing” data from back in April.
It’s pretty sad when Lionsgate Home Entertainment has to rescue the PR firm they’ve hired to get the word out on a major theatrical release destined for the home entertainment market place. Who works for who in that relationship?
In any case, the Four Horsemen — Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and new member Lizzy Caplan — are back for their next elaborate caper. It’s great fun and the ending is full of twists … and more twists.
Bonus features for all SKUs include commentary from director Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Jem and the Holograms, etc.) and the featurette titled “You Can’t Look Away.” Exclusive to the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD SKUs are two additional featurettes — “The Art of the Ensemble” and “Bringing Magic to Life.”
There are a couple of lessons learned. First, there are good PR firms, who act professionally, and there are PR firms who are clearly “works in progress.”
Second, and this is important, it is a colossal waste of time to exchange emails with a PR firm populated by what appears to be Millennials. Sure, they have college degrees — we guess — in things like Social Awareness, but all you get back are excuses on why things don’t get done.
As Micah Tyler sings in his “You’ve Gotta Love Millennials” song, “Criticism isn’t easy for their ears; They feel like they know most everything … See, they grew up with undeserved confidence; Cause they got trophies just for participating.” Yes, they know everything, but nothing gets done.
Here's the link for Micah Tyler's “You’ve Gotta Love Millennials” song: You Gotta Love Millennials