The Quorum

Universal’s Not Messing Around With THE FALL GUY

There’s something magical about the A-list two-hander, movies that unite a pair of top-tier movie stars on the big screen. When these films work, the charisma and star-power of the leads seem to be magnified as if the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

At The Quorum, we are especially fond of the action-comedy two-handers. The ones with an undercurrent of sexual tension. Think THE AFRICAN QUEEN, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (both versions), ROMANCING THE STONE, MR. AND MRS. SMITH, or last year’s THE LOST CITY.  We even like the ones that don’t quite work. KNIGHT AND DAY? Yup. THE TOURIST? Well, maybe not THE TOURIST. 

Oddly, we don’t get very many of these, so they are a bit of a rare breed. That’s what makes us especially excited for THE FALL GUY starring the endlessly likeable duo of Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt in what looks like an inspired pairing. We’re also excited by Universal’s campaign for the film, which began with the release of a poster and trailer last Thursday. 

What do we like about the campaign? First, Universal is early. The film is scheduled to open on March 1st, meaning things kicked off a full four months before release. It is the first of the upcoming March release to have a trailer out. (Yes, Warner Bros. has put out material for DUNE: PART TWO, which opens on March 15th, but that campaign started when DUNE was slated to open in October of this year).

By comparison, Paramount released the trailer for MEAN GIRLS earlier this morning, just two months before its scheduled January opening.

Second, the trailer for FALL is unusually long at 3:20. Yet, it doesn’t reveal too much nor overstay its welcome. With most trailers running nearly two minutes, we love that Universal decided to break the rules. This trailer needed to be longer, so the studio made it longer. Conventions be damned.

Third, the studio decided to run the trailer on TV during football on Sunday. Yes, we see lots of movie spots during the NFL, but rarely do we see one for a film that is four months away. What’s even more remarkable is that Universal bought a 120-second spot and aired a slightly edited version of the full trailer. A 30-second spot during a live sporting event is expensive. Multiply that by four, and you get a sense of the financial commitment given to FALL.

This is important because it signals that the studio is committed to the film and willing to buck conventions in terms of timing, length, and media buys to sell this movie. Audiences can tell when a studio supports and understands the DNA of a film, and right now, Universal is effectively conveying that message.

With that in mind, how is FALL tracking? The title was added to The Quorum this week, and it arrives on tracking at an elevated level. FALL belongs to the “Medium” group, meaning we believe it to have a production budget above $50M. The average opening weekend for films in this group is $22M, with OPPENHEIMER topping the list with an $82M debut. Most of the titles in this group grossed under $15M in their initial frame.

Early tracking suggests that FALL is on a path to open towards the high end of the group. Looking at the table below, the early tracking data is quite strong. Awareness for FALL is at 30%, which is above the average of 24% for other Medium titles at the same distance from release. 

Interest sits at 47%, well ahead of the average of 41%. FALL is also tracking above the norm in a desire to see the film in a theater (42% vs. the average of 37%) and willingness to pay to see it (57% vs. the average of 50%).

The tracking data suggests that Universal has decided to back the right horse. And these numbers only partially reflect the impact of the entire campaign launch, meaning these numbers may go up in the coming days and weeks. All in all, for lovers of the two-handed action comedy, it looks like FALL is poised to be a successful addition to the genre.

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