No matter whether you call it the “big game,” the “Super Bowl,” or the “Human Puppy Bowl,” there’s two things you can count in with this Sunday’s upcoming scrimmage. One is that there’s going to be a physical competition that determines who is the best football team of the 2018 – 2019 season. It’s the purpose of the night, and everyone knows that’s the big draw for most folks tuning in.
However, there’s another attraction that makes Super Bowl Sunday all the more special: big ticket movie ads! While there’s a reduced number of spots being dedicated to movies during the big game, and studios like Sony are sitting out the festivities altogether, it’s going to be a little lighter than usual in this arena. But this just means there’s more of an opportunity for certain films that need the extra attention to shine even brighter.
Keeping that in mind, here’s a list of 11 films that could use the profile boost come Sunday night:
Alita: Battle Angel
With the buzz starting to build around Alita: Battle Angel, and advanced screenings giving fans a look at the entire film early, there’s a potential for this underdog to pull through into front-runner status. If the reaction from this week’s sneak peek are anything like the extremely positive reactions that have been filing in slowly but surely, one of Fox’s last blockbusters as an independent studio might be a record breaker. Capitalizing on those reactions, during a high-visibility Super Bowl ad, feels like a good step towards making that a reality.
We know Disney is going to have several big ads during, and in some cases after, the big game. And with a lineup that could be an historical event for the studio, they’re going to have to pick and choose which films they think deserve the extra flash. Dumbo feels like one of the movies that could really use the push of a Super Bowl ad for one simple reason: it’s still a bit of an unknown quantity. Tim Burton’s reimagining looks like it’s changing enough of the film that fans of the original will need a big hook to lure them to the theaters. Present the right content in a nice, quick package that leads audiences to a brand new trailer online, and Disney will be ready to start the year off like a champ.
The Lion King
True, The Lion King technically doesn’t need the help. Everyone’s going to line up for this movie, no questions asked. However, if The Lion King really wants to be successful, it’d be smart to present some new footage from director Jon Favreau’s “live action” remake. A new trailer would be in order, if the studio wants to go traditionally. But, if Disney really wanted to surprise fans looking for evidence of why a new version of this classic film should exist, showing an extended look at the film through a new musical sequence would be a perfect bookend to the first look that re-enacted the legendary opening.
Ok, this is the last Disney pitch, we swear. But how the hell do you not slot an ad for Avengers: Endgame for the Super Bowl? We’re one trailer and about three months away from the soaring conclusion to Avengers: Infinity War, and with its predecessor using the big game to push its wares, it’d kind of feel out of sorts if the big finale didn’t use the same tactic. Spider-Man: Far From Home won’t show up, because Sony is sitting this round out, and Captain Marvel is already pretty deep in its marketing blitz; so if Marvel wants to make some headlines early next week, the Endgame is pretty clear.
There are two things Hellboy needs in order to kickstart its engines: a new release date, and another look at just how the David Harbour variant will vary from those that came before it. The main criticism of Hellboy’s first trailer was that, indeed, it looked pretty close to the Guillermo del Toro version of the property. With an R-rating being a big difference between the two films, it might be a bit hard to show the difference between the two films in a network approved spot. It shouldn’t be impossible though, as an ad that has fun with the network limitations could pull off a feat of Deadpool-ian proportions.
Back to the more Marvel-inclined corner of the cinematic universe, Fox’s reign as an independent studio has two projects that could use the spotlight badly. As part of its revolving release schedule, two mutant-powered tentpole films are coming out within the walls of 2019, Dark Phoenix being the larger film of the two. Considering the so-so reputation the X-Men series has earned after X-Men: Apocalypse landed with a thud, a cryptic look at Jean Grey and her impending destruction spree is just the sort of thing Super Bowl ads are made for. And it’d make a killer lead in for another commercial that should show up for the big game.
The New Mutants
Both Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants found themselves at the short end of the stick, with negative buzz questioning why both films being bumped to 2019. In the case of the latter film, there’s even been a question of whether it’ll see the light of day as a theatrical release, or as a possible original film acquisition for streaming giant Hulu. For the sake of this second, and possibly final, trip into the Marvel / Fox world of mutants, it’d be a great idea to confirm the status of this film’s release this year, as well as where it’s headed; especially if there’s room for a Cloverfield Paradox like surprise that allows fans to watch the completed film after the big game.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs And Shaw
We actually got an early start on Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, as it dropped a trailer on Friday, which might make the prospect of a Super Bowl spot airing so quickly after a bit iffy. But hear us out: with that first trailer wowing crowds as soon as it dropped, it’d be even more impressive to see a more concentrated dose of action released during the big game on Sunday. Even better: they should make Friday’s trailer an experience focused on the heroes, with the Super Bowl spot taking a more villain heavy approach. Put ‘em together, and it’s a double-barrelled shot of excitement.
Not all Super Bowl movie spots need to be four quadrant blockbuster pitches. If anything, more films off the beaten path should take advantage of the big platform the event offers. Seeing as the original timeline would have seen us still discussing Ad Astra’s box office performance at this point, it seems like a fantastic time for the mysterious sci-fi drama from director James Gray to give audiences a first look. While the film has been pushed to a May 24th release date, it makes the Super Bowl the perfect moment to start the ad push on the Brad Pitt starring film. Even if it’s a cryptic teaser, it’d be enough to get everyone thinking about just what they’ll see in the future.
With a TV series set to revive the character of Chucky competing with a film that’s bringing the Child’s Play franchise to life in name only, there’s going to need to be some sharp, quick contrasts drawn between the projects. Online, the series is already revving its engines with a marketing campaign trying to sell folks on the Buddi doll that will replace the killer friend that this remake obviously can’t use for its own purposes. So why not stoke the fires a little more with a fake TV ad showing Buddi in action, with just a hint of the sorts of trouble this new robot pal could cause?
And that’s the game! Don’t forget that Super Bowl 53 kicks off at 6:30 PM EST on CBS. So if you’re looking for these potential game changing spots, as well as the various commercials that will also be dropped through the night, you may want to start watching during the pre-game show.