Ryan Reynolds can never take himself too seriously — the star of the Deadpool franchise (and was regrettably the star of the 2011 The Green Lantern movie) has always interacted with fans online: cracking self-deprecating jokes on Twitter, sharing behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram, and always leaving fans guessing as to what they can expect next from him. Naturally, this attitude seeped into the marketing team for his latest movie Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, trolling fans all over the world.
On May 7, Reynolds tweeted a link to a YouTube video that claimed to be the full picture leak of the entire movie. Eager fans will be sad to know that the almost two-hour long video is a total “Rick Roll” pulled by Reynolds. Yes, the rest of the video is just Pikachu doing aerobic dancing to 80’s music. This stunt has amassed 18 million views in one week after its ‘leak’ and is considered to be “an incredibly clever marketing stunt.”
Aside from tricking everyone with this ‘accidental’ leak (although Reynolds is known for these types of stunts), the voice actor released handfuls of mini-trailers about casting Pokemon, getting into character, and even alienating his own family. Clearly, Warner Bros. Production tapped into the ridiculousness of the movie idea and decided to poke fun…at themselves. Surprisingly enough, it worked — the movie earned $161 million dollars worldwide in its first weekend.
This massive success brings new insights into what we should expect from production companies in the future, especially with a varied target audience. Making movies based on video games in extremely difficult, and can rub a lot of hard-core fans the wrong way if it doesn’t live up to the original. Sonic the Hedgehog is already getting backlash because of the disturbing character design — which has been promised to be fixed before the November release, stirring up even more controversy — and shows how tactical production companies have to be when releasing movies.
In modern society, production companies learned to adapt to the needs of the viewers — interactive trailers, fourth-wall breaking teasers, and hidden easter eggs are just a few of the ways the audience is getting entertainment content. Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is the latest example of this self-awareness more companies are beginning to follow,h but funny teasers are just one way to hook the audience. Trying to sell a horror movie with silly behind-the-scenes will undoubtedly fail, so eerie hints and hidden messages in posters and tweets lure the audience closer, just to leave them on the edge of their seats practically running to the theater.
Reynolds may not be the first actor to create extra content for the audience to anticipate, but he certainly won’t be the last; pretty soon other companies will follow in his footsteps to further the hype for the next movie. Until then, just keep an eye out for more “leaked footage” of any movie you may want to see next, but be wary of a potential trolling. Who knows, there may even be some easter eggs in there if you look hard enough.