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AVENGERS ASSEMBLE CASE STUDY
THE AVENGERS OFFICIAL TRAILER
Thinking caps on. • Genre – it’s a superhero movie. What are the
generic conventions of this sub-genre? What conventions does this film adopt, and which does it challenge?
• Narrative – Can you identify the 5 narrative stages? The narrative pathway? Narrative features? Narrative roles?
• Representations – Are the characters presented to us as traditional binary stereotypes? Or are we looking at morally ambiguous post-modern types?
• AUDIENCE – Who? How targeted? Successful?
• INSTITUTIONS – What do you know about the media institutions behind the production of this film?
• MARKETING – Do you remember this film coming out? Was there any hype? What advantages did this film have due to the institution that produced & marketed it?
Why was this film a success?
• To say 'Avengers Assemble' has enjoyed success would be an incredible understatement. It exceeded all expectations by taking the biggest ever opening weekend in the US — a whopping $207 million (£128 million) - and did it by beating the previous holder of that title, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' by almost $40 million.
Its current worldwide takings means it's passed its target to break the $1.5 billion mark.
But why is 'Avengers Assemble' one of the most successful films ever?
Marketing & Forward planning
It took four years, and five films to reach 'Avengers Assemble'.
First Marvel's newly founded film wing introduced 'Iron Man' to the world, with a wise-cracking Robert Downey Jr. as its lead back in 2008. A scene following the film's credits teased an eventual 'Avengers' film, but plans weren't set in stone until the film proved a runaway success.
The other superheroes in the team, Hulk, Captain America and Thor, each had their own movies as well, which set up each of the lead characters and familiarised the audience with the concepts of the Marvel universe and smaller characters like Black Widow.
It's a film that in effect had four years of heavy marketing.
Production & creative directors
With 'Avengers Assemble', Marvel took a gamble by entrusting their flagship property to a director with only one big screen credit.
While critically lauded, geek god Joss Whedon's debut 'Serenity' was still a flop. However his work on cult TV shows 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Firefly' & script writing on ‘Toy Story’ proved that he was adept at writing and directing ensemble pieces. He also had experience with Marvel, having written a string of X-Men comics in 2004.
Whedon proved to be the perfect man for the job, skilfully dividing up screen-time between the heroes, the supporting characters and the villain, without ever detracting from the overall story. And he did it all with a keen sense of humour, making the film funnier than most mainstream comedies.
His hiring followed the Marvel pattern of leftfield directors: 'Elf' helmer John Favreau took care of 'Iron Man' and its sequel while Kenneth Branagh 'Thor'. All three ended up doing fine jobs.
Production - a great castBefore Robert Downey Jr. became 'Iron Man' in 2008, he was best known (to many) for stints in rehab, Wayne Gayle in Natural Born Killers and a part in 'Ally McBeal'.
The film made him a massive movie star, and set the blueprint for Marvel thinking outside the box when it came to their leading men and women.
Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth both nailed their parts as the American golden boy Steve Rogers and Norse god Thor, neither of which were what were expected. Then there's Tom Hiddlestone and Mark Ruffalo, two indie darlings who undoubtedly steal the show in 'Avengers Assemble'as Loki and The Hulk respectively.
In fact, the most recognisable stars involved weren't even super-powered, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson.
Critics of Marvel will say the infamously tight studio casts this way because they don't like to pay top-tier wages, but the strategy has paid off so far.
Genre - The Avengers is FUN
The most creatively bankrupt way of evolving a series is to "go darker".
As the years went by 'Harry Potter' got bleaker while 'Spider-Man' went from light romp to emo-inspired rubbish. Only Chris Nolan's Batman trilogy got away with it because it was dark in the first place.
Avengers have bucked this trend. Across the five build-up films and 'Avengers' promotion, the sense of fun has never diminished. They remain bright, colourful films that are entirely self-aware and proud of their super-hero comic book heritage.
Inherently ridiculous and damn proud, the Avengers chime into a deep-set feeling of nostalgia that everyone has. A nostalgia for movie stars that quipped more than they frowned and for larger than life characters who fight for good and do it with a nod and wink.
THE AVENGERS - HEROES
GENRE – Easy to access stereotypes
CAN YOU APPLY THE PROPP CHARACTER THEORY TO THE AVENGERS?
EVIL ALIENS - MINIONS(THE CHITAURI)
LOKI - ANTAGONIST(THOR’S EVIL BROTHER)
Marketing – using universal praise
The Los Angeles Times called 'Avengers Assemble' "smartly thought out and executed with verve and precision", while the Hollywood Reporter said it was "engineered to charm the geek core and non-fans alike".
And that's the point. Films based on comic books have an inbuilt core audience that will usually watch them no matter what. But for a superhero franchise to appeal outside the fanboy set — and make loads of money - they need positive word of mouth. Which typically means good reviews.
It's no coincidence that the two most successful superhero films ever are also the most critically lavished. Right now 2008's 'The Dark Knight' has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and 'Avengers' has 93%.
NARRATIVE• Plot Summary:
1. A prologue of sorts tells us BIG POWERS are coming to Earth to smash and destroy and take back the mysterious Tesseract. The stage is set for Big Action. International peacekeepers S.H.I.E.L.D. have located the mysterious Tesseractdevice along with the US Army's WWII super soldier, Captain America. We discover the Tesseract is actually a gateway to a new world called Asguard. A mysterious being known as Loki arrives on Earth and immediately assumes that he can rule all human beings. Being a super-powered God he gets what he wants.
2. As Loki escapes with the Tesseract, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury assembles a team of super heroes: Dr. Bruce Banner, who turns into the Hulk; Tony Stark and his Iron Man armour; Steve Rogers / Captain America; Thor, the god of thunder, (and Loki's half-brother); Master Assassins Barton / Hawkeye and Romanoff / Black Widow. Together they will become a team to take on an attack that will call them to become the greatest team of all time.
3. But things don’t go smoothly for the newly founded team and setbacks help mould the team long enough for them to see how they need to unite to save Earth.
4. The film draws together multiple narrative strands and works together to bring an extended climatic battle scene in the heart of New York city in good old fashioned Hollywood style.
5. The resolution is of the heroes winning, and an epilogue sets the scene for future Avengers movies and single character spin offs, of which the film grew out of.
REPRESENTATIONRepresentation issues in the Avengers aren’t too challenging. Lots of stereotypes in play to allow the audience easy to recognise and follow characters.
• CAPTAIN AMERICA – Nice guy, Alpha Male, leader of the team, threatens to hit people who don’t conform.
• IRON MAN – Joker, playboy, billionaire genius who enjoys a fight.• THOR – traditional macho male. A warrior God!• HULK – split personality, nice guy scientist / uber hyper masculine male
monster!• BLACK WIDOW – A classic femme fatale, an assassin who seduces her
victims. Now she kills for the good guys…• HAWKEYE – mind controlled assassin, sidekick / false hero.• NIK FURY – African/American “cool” kick ass boss of the Avengers.• COPS – Dumb cops to showcase how powerful the Avengers are.• LOKI – evil mastermind megalomaniac villain with inferiority / superiority
issues. (played by a British actor, of course)• MINIONS – The Chitauri – evil aliens, outsiders, minions, cannon fodder.
AUDIENCE - TARGETING
• Who is the primary target audience?• Fans of The Avengers – a well established fan base of
comic book fans. Having launched in the 60’s, the upper age may be 65? The fan base is cross-generational.
• The stereotypical comic reader may well be 15-25 and nerdy, as epitomised by shows like The Big Bang Theory, but Marvel’s Avengers has tapped into the cool geek chic and mainstreamers are also targeted.
• With the noted pull of pester power, the younger demographic have been appealed to with masses of merchandising (handily advertised in the film!)
AUDIENCE - POSITIONING• This is a traditional Good vs Evil film with the audience
rooted firmly behind the wholesome Avengers.• The morally dubious characters – the assassins
Hawkeye and Black Widow now work for SHIELD defending the Earth and are good guys. The rage monster Hulk only kicks off when he is battling evil (or manipulated). Iron Man is cool, he tells jokes, is a rebel and listens to rock music – what’s not to like there? And Captain America stands for old fashioned, traditional American values. We just love him.
• And the bad guys are ugly and not from around here. There’s more of them and they don’t play fair.
• Its easy to get behind the Avengers and root for the good guys!
• With audience expectation so high this film was expected to do well.
• It did amazingly well.• With a budget of $225 million it boasts a big cast and
top end SFX.• It took $1.5 billion at the box office. • In the US alone it made another $200+ million in DVD
& BluRay sales.• This made it the 3rd best selling film of all time when
released, behind James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ ($2.7bn) & ‘Titanic’ ($2.2bn). (This year ‘Jurassic World’ nudged past it, putting the Avengers into 4th place.)
AUDIENCE - DEBATES
• As the film has had so much hype, been linked to the ever growing Marvel Cinematic Universe the debates around the film revolved around who got the most screen time, whose characters were two dimensional, did it do the franchise justice, and who would win in a fight against DC’s Batman etc.
• As the film has spawned more spinoffs on TV, sequels for the individual characters and more Avengers movies, I think it safe to say the debates are … academic.
INDUSTRY - PRODUCTION
• The Avengers Assemble (UK) is the 3rd highest grossing film of all time, produced in 2012 by Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, which is owned by multinational conglomerate corporation Walt Disney.
• Marvel Entertainment also made a deal with games development company Ubisoft to bring out a video game “Avengers: Battle For Earth”, however it is only available for Xbox 360 and the Wii U.
• It had a total budget of $220 million, but it made over $1.5 billion in the box office.
• All-star cast including Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg and Samuel L Jackson.
How is The Avengers an example of Synergy?
Film – Marvel StudiosSoundtrack – Marvel MusicGaming – “The Avengers: Battle For Earth” Xbox 360 (Microsoft) and Wii U (Nintendo)DVD – Blu Ray, DVD, Digital Download (iTunes)Other companies in charge of merchandise such as toys, posters, clothing, tie-in comics
The preliminary films such as Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor and The Hulk 1 and 2 acted as free promotion for the film, with hints of the next film at the end of the credits
Marvel are BIG onHoardings and Posters
Production & Technology
High production values
Lead to great CGI and
IMAX footage, plus post
Production 3D all helped
With the film’s wow factor.
Game-tie ins were just part
Of the tech based merchandise.
The Avengers also had a game on
Facebook: Avengers Alliance, which
Was another part of their marketing
INDUSTRY – CONTEXT & BACKGROUND
THE IDEAThe film was based on THE AVENGERS comics by Stan Lee, which were all published by MARVEL COMICS (another subsidiary company of MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT).
It’s estimated that 125-135 million copies of the 600 monthlyissues of the main AVENGERS title have been sold.
THE AVENGERS comics had two spin-off animated TV series:
The Avengers: United They Stand The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroesand
There were also three animated films made by MARVEL ANIMATION STUDIOS:
Ultimate Avengers Ultimate Avengers 2 Next Avengers
As you can see there is an established fan base, and a push to hit a younger demographic.
Produced by MARVEL STUDIOS
Which is owned by MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT
Which is owned by THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY
Walt Disney’s Movie Empire!!
Disney have 5 Major Companies in the top 20 Production Companies!!
Own the following film studios: (Which tend to be aimed at a much younger audience)
They also own the following media companies:
They make other media products such as: cable television, publishing, theme parks, broadcasting, radio, and web portals meaning they can use synergy to mass market films.
And they are finalizing a takeover of Fox
INDUSTRY – MARKETING & PROMOTION
• The film was promoted at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, during which a teaser trailer narrated by Samuel L. Jackson was shown followed by an introduction of the cast.
• In August 2011, Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios and Marvel Studios presented a look at Walt Disney Studios' upcoming film slate, which included The Avengers, at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. The presentation featured footage from the film and appearances by the cast members.
• Later in August, Disney dismissed Marvel's executive vice president of worldwide marketing, vice president of worldwide marketing and manager of worldwide marketing to bring their functions in-house.
INDUSTRY – MARKETING & PROMOTION• In October 2011, Marvel Studios held a presentation at the New
York Comic Con that featured new footage and a panel discussion including producer Kevin Feige and several cast members.
• The first full-length trailer was also released in October. The trailer, which debuted exclusively on iTunes Movie Trailers, was downloaded over 10 million times in its first 24 hours, breaking the website's record for the most-viewed trailer. This record was surpassed by the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, which was downloaded more than 12.5 million times in its first 24 hours.
• A second full-length trailer was released on iTunes in February 2012, reaching a record 13.7 million downloads in 24 hours. The theatrical trailers of The Avengers appeared with many films, including Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, 21 Jump Street and The Hunger Games.
INDUSTRY – MARKETING & PROMOTION• In January 2012, Marvel Studios held a global Twitter chat.
The 30-minute live tweeting event featured writer/director Joss Whedon, cast members Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and Clark Gregg and a 10-second tease of the 30-second Super Bowl commercial that would air during Super Bowl XLVI in February.
• According to the Los Angeles Times, Disney paid an estimated $4 million for the 30-second spot.
• On May 1, 2012, executives from Marvel Studios, along with actors Tom Hiddleston and Clark Gregg, rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchangein honour of the film's theatrical release.
Poster Campaign• The original “darker” format was dropped for the
climatic battle poster that is now well known.The observant amongst you may notice some costume changes. Initially Captain America wears his old costume. And Hawkeye actually looked like his comic book superhero character!
A series of individual posters showcasing the characters was released with May 4th
being the only text other than the title.On all the pictures the element of teamwork is also present.
Promotional Partners• In February 2012, it was announced that Marvel has partnered with fragrance company JADS to promote The Avengers with character-based fragrances. The announcement was just ahead of the Toy Industry Association's annual February exhibition, where representatives held a sampling booth of the products.
• Other promotional partners include bracelet-maker Colantotte, Dr Pepper, Farmers Insurance, Harley-Davidson, Hershey, Land O’ Frost lunchmeats, Oracle, Red Baron Pizza, Symantec, Visa, and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
• In total, Marvel and its parent-company Disney secured an estimated $100 million in worldwide marketing support for the film.
• Notable exclusions include Baskin-Robbins, Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts, who had partnered with Marvel in the past when their films were distributed by Paramount. • Disney does not generally promote through fast food outlets.
FACEBOOK GAME: AVENGERS ALLIANCE
INDUSTRY - REGULATION• The DVD/Blu-ray version of MARVEL AVENGERS ASSEMBLE
is classified 12. It differs from the theatrical version submitted to the BBFC which is classified 12A. This is largely due to the moderate fantasy violence in the film.
• In publishing the Extended Classification Information (ECI) for the DVD/Blu-ray MARVEL AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, a technical error occurred and the theatrical ECI was published on the BBFC website instead of the DVD/Blu-ray ECI.
• The theatrical ECI highlights a scene in the film where the tip of a spear is seen protruding from a man’s chest. This scene was absent from the DVD/Blu-ray MARVEL AVENGERS ASSEMBLE and does not appear in the DVD/Blu-ray ECI. The website error has now been rectified and the correct ECI for the DVD/Blu-ray is now available.
Regulation - BBFC
INDUSTRY – GLOBAL IMPACT
INDUSTRY – DISTRIBUTION & EXHIBTION
• US Domestic Total Gross : $623,357,910
• Distributor : Buena Vista Release Date: May 4, 2012
• Genre: Action / Adventure Runtime: 2hrs. 22 min.
• MPAA Rating: PG-13 Production Budget: $220 million
• Total Lifetime Grosses
• Domestic: $623,357,910 41.2%
• + Foreign: $888,400,000 58.8%
• = Worldwide Takings: $1,511,757,910 ($1.5 billion)
Cinema’s Highest Grossing Franchise!
Marvel Studio Totals
US Box Office$8,359,925,748
Worldwide Box Office $20,477,663,992