Today marks the end of the rather unusual campaign for WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. Based on the enormous blockbuster book, it features a cast of mostly unknown actors. Daisy Edgar-Jones toplines the cast, not that you would know it. Throughout most of the campaign, the key art featured an odd image of a seemingly beheaded woman. Know what else is missing on this poster aside from the top of her head? The cast members’ names.
This isn’t the first high-profile summer film toplined by a newcomer. Last month, Warner Bros. gave us ELVIS starring Austin Butler. And though the early campaign shied away from showing Butler, the marketing leaned heavily into his performance as the film got closer to release.
Without a talent story, the campaign for CRAWDADS has relied on the book itself. The novel becomes the lead star. But in doing so, Sony fails to expand the audience for the film beyond fans of the book. Given that it was a “global best-selling phenomenon,” as the poster points out, maybe that’s enough.
With that said, how do the numbers look? For comps, we’re using DEATH ON THE NILE, which opened to $13M, and DEAR EVAN HANSEN, which debuted to $7M during peak Covid, meaning if it opened today, it would likely perform better. Like CRAWDADS, both are based on pre-existing IP, and both target female audiences.
First, let’s look at awareness. CRAWDADS (brown) ends its run with an awareness of 33%. That is a hair higher than HANSEN (light yellow) but well below NILE (dark yellow). That, however, doesn’t tell the whole story. Among women, CRAWDADS’s awareness is 41% vs. 37% for NILE. So while CRAWDADS is below NILE for general audiences, among the core demo, it comes out ahead.
On the interest side, CRAWDADS (dark blue) arrives in theaters with a score of 5.4. That’s in line with NILE (light blue) and above HANSEN (navy). Again, however, in this case, you have to look at the demos. Among women, interest is 5.8, whereas it was 5.0 for NILE.
That means if women show up for the film, CRAWDADS has a good chance to surpass the $13M opening for NILE. But is that enough? Would that be considered a success? The answer is maybe.
The film has a few things working in its favor. First, the reported budget for the film is only $24M. Even factoring in marketing costs, it won’t take much for Sony to recoup. Second, there is a chance that it could be a word-of-mouth slow burner. With most of the summer tentpoles behind us, CRAWDADS could just play and play.
Third, it may be the kind of film that grows in legacy over the years in ancillary markets. It’s not hard to imagine the film having a long streaming and cable TV afterlife. Fans of the book may find themselves watching it over and over on TV.