Thursday, 19 November 2015

'Zoolander 2' Trailer Kills Justin Bieber, Highlights Its Social Media Advantage

I had two posts ready to go today for the release of trailers for The Huntsman Winter’s War and Now You See Me 2 (which I’m guessing will drop today or tomorrow), but this one caught me by surprise. Paramount/Viacom VIAB +4.01% Inc. dropped it at 5:00 a.m., and sadly I had made the terrible choice to sleep in until 5:30. I figured the moment had passed and moved on to other things, but my editor asked me to write a post on it, stating that the trailer was “blowing up on social media.” So here you go, just five hours late.

The Zoolander trailer is probably going to “win the Internet” today for the very fact that it’s a sequel to a long-ago comedy that still holds a very special place in the heart of moviegoers who were either kids when the first film came out or just barely adults. So, coupled with someFacebook FB +1.87%-friendly celebrity cameos, such as Justin Bieber’s death scene, this is just the sort of trailer that will indeed dominate social media.Yeah, it looks pretty funny and yeah I’m happy to see Kristen Wiig joining the crew, but this trailer and its apparent social media footprint just shows the huge advantage that such films have over anything remotely original.

As I discussed a while back when Gods of Egypt fled this release date for safer waters, a property like Zoolander 2 has a marketing advantage by virtue of being a sequel to a somewhat beloved cult comedy, with movie stars to boot. That’s not a revelation of course, but what’s changed in the last several years is that pesky social media thing. Not only will the geek-centric movie news sites cover this Zoolander 2 trailer, but the world at large will cover it and everyone will share said trailer via Facebook, Twitter TWTR +0.00%, and the like. That’s an advantage that even a major studio original like Gods of Egypt or even a star-studded romantic comedy like How to Be Single doesn’t have. It will be news to fans of the original, fans of its stars (Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, and Kristen Wiig), and news to those covering its various pop culture cameos.

That’s not a slap on the movie, by the way. The original Zoolander was a surprisingly subversive little comedy, basically amounting to a comedic lecture about the various labor inequities that we Americans tolerate in order to buy fashionable clothes and other consumer goods. Sadly said message has not dated one bit. And yes, as I’ve discussed before, the original Zoolander became something of a defining 9/11 movie, opening just weeks after the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks and both offering a “turn your brain off” comedic distraction from the fear and mourning as well as implicitly offering a very pointed “This is why they hate us” social critique. And that is the reason I am genuinely interested in seeing what tricks Ben Stiller has up his sleeve for a sequel.

I’d like to think that this isn’t just a nostalgic cash-in for an aging movie star. After all, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues offered a powerhouse satire of modern cable news and a bristling critique of its effect on the populace by offering a fictionalized version of its origins. On the other hand, Dumb and Dumber To. We’ll see which side the pool Zoolander 2 dives into, and that mystery, as well as the potential for something to chew on beyond comedy sequel callbacks, is what makes this one worth paying attention to.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, we also have a major franchise installment where all three female leads (42-year-old Wiig, 41-year-old Cruz, and a returning 44-year-old Christine Taylor) are around as old as Ben Stiller (turns fifty on the 30th if this month), Owen Wilson (turns 47 today, happy birthday!), and Will Ferrell (48 years old). That’s not worth putting on a parade or anything, but it bears mention when Stiller and company could have easily just grabbed whichever 25-year old actress was the proverbial “It girl” of the moment and few of us would have batted an eye. Anyway, Zoolander 2 opens February 12, 2016, against 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool (another big social media title) and MGM, New Line Cinemas, and Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc.’s How to Be Single. As always, we’ll see. Now go share this on Facebook and Twitter so I don’t have to give my editor grief for making me take the time to write it!

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