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The Meg, one of this summer's final blockbuster releases, certainly dips into the horror genre, as Jason Statham and his supporting cast must combat a 75-foot-long Megalodon that's chowing down on vacationers simply enjoying their time in the water. However, if you saw even a little bit of the advertising for The Meg, this movie was not marketed as a straight-up horror flick, instead going for a more lighthearted approach. The reason for this is because the marketing folks over at Warner Bros didn't want The Meg to come off as feeling like a movie that would have been released two decades ago. Warner Bros global marketing chief Blair Rich explained:
If we had gone the serious shark movie route, it would have come off as a less-than-_Jurassic World, _it wouldn't have been distinct. What's happening is phenomenal in the audience response. We signaled to them the tone was an invitation to have a good time.
Although Warner Bros had data that indicated that young males preferred seeing straightforward action in trailers, as Blair Rich informed Deadline, she and the marketing team opted to go in a different direction with The Meg so as not to make it come across as generic. Granted, this is a movie about a giant shark eating people, so there is still a sense of urgency and danger in the advertising, but offsetting that was a more fun and "self-effacing tone." Remember, that first trailer had Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea" playing and shot of the eponymous monster swimming through a group of swimmers, including a Yorkie treading water. That preview ended up getting approximately 108 million views, so the marketing team kept plugging The Meg with the same kind of satirical tone.
The Meg certainly had a unique marketing campaign beyond tone, from deciding not to release a second trailer after realization that it wouldn't reach as much of the intended audience as desired, to holding special events like a touring VR experience where attendees waded in a water tank to watch The Meg, to airing special TV spots during Shark Week on Discovery Channel. Judging by how the movie is doing in theaters, it looks like all this outside-the-box marketing has helped put butts in seats. Critically speaking, The Meg has drawn mixed reviews from critics (it currently ranks at 49% on Rotten Tomatoes), but commercially speaking, the movie has exceeded expectations. This past weekend, it made $44.5 million domestically, blowing those $20-$22 million estimates out of the water (pun intended), while its worldwide total added up to $146 million, which included a strong start in China.