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Sony Pictures debuts mobile-first trailer to promote film based on its hottest property

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The trailer is geared towards vertical mobile viewing

Sony Pictures Animation is kicking off promotions for next summer’s The Emoji Movie—a film starring, yes, exclusively emojis—with a vertically oriented trailer that is just as mobile-friendly as the characters in the film.

The strategy is appropriate, considering that the animated film takes place within a smartphone, and features characters interacting with a number of different applications. The teaser trailer will launch with a number of partners, including many of the apps featured in the film, in wide-ranging partnerships throughout the interim period between the holiday season and the film’s release in August 2017.

“Will the vertically orientated ‘mobile trailer’ become a regular format for mainstream movie previews?” said James McNally, director of digital strategy at TDT, New York. “While it's unlikely in the short term—and may never truly catch on with the film set—I wouldn't completely count it out in the long run.  

“The devices and ways by which we consume media naturally evolve over time, and the movie industry is certainly looking for any ways to make it's content more consumable and appealing to younger audiences, whose primary movie discovery happens on their mobile device. Beginning of a major shift in the way movie trailers are released?  Unlikely.  

“But something that may pop up more and more?  Would not be surprised.”

Mobile trailer
For the first 24 hours, the trailer will be optimized for mobile users and best viewed on the phone. Mobile moviegoers can see the teaser trailer for The Emoji Movie on any of the film’s social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, and an extended version in theaters nationwide this Wednesday. 

Simultaneously, the studio announced that it is teaming up with some of the most popular apps on your phone to bring The Emoji Movie to life in a way that it says every mobile user will recognize. The teaser trailer will launch with these partners and others equaling a social footprint of nearly 700 million followers.

Apps featured in the film include Candy Crush Saga, Dropbox, Instagram, Just Dance, Spotify, Twitter and YouTube. Popular apps Crackle, Facebook, Shazam, Snapchat and Twitch also appear in the movie.


Many of the apps provide the settings for the film’s action. In the music streaming app Spotify, characters ride rushing streams made of music; in Candy Crush Saga, our heroes are trapped inside the game board and must play through the levels in order to survive.

It is still up in the air what role less cinematically lush apps such as Dropbox will play in the film.

“Apps like Candy Crush have vastly higher name appeal among the target demo than Dropbox, and for a movie like this, Dropbox vs Candy Crush is like casting Ariana Grande instead of Daniel Day Lewis—it just has much greater relevance to the target audience,” Mr. McNally said.

The Emoji Movie
We may have to wait until next summer to see if a mobile trailer will pay off for Sony Pictures Animation, which would really be the best case scenario, as it is also yet to be determined whether consumers really want to watch a movie starring emojis.


“Are emoji a good subject for a movie?” Mr. Mcnally said. “Without getting into a semantic debate about ‘good,’ or about what is ‘proper’ for film, the short answer is: why not?

“The idea that movies need to follow tried-and-true themes and settings defined in a pre-internet era is simply false, and dishonors the creative potential of filmmakers,” he said. “Film is not beholden to telling the stories of the past—it's an art form that is free to tell the stories of the present day, and to use any allegorical schemes that help communicate and tell those stories.  

“The emoji setting is challenging to be sure, and if the trailer is any indication, The Emoji Movie seems like a disappointing waste of time with a nauseating amount of tech brand placement, but that doesn't mean some talented filmmaker can't make a truly funny and relevant movie that is set in an emoji world.”

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Rakin Azfar is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York. Reach him at rakin@napean.com.

 
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