On Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to overcome three consecutive double-digit deficits in the NFL playoffs. Their historic run of come-from-behind success ultimately earned them their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years. (Richard Nixon was president the last time they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy!) While sports fans across the nation rejoiced, entertainment fans found the night’s big game trailers equally as compelling as the on-field product. A whopping 12 Super Bowl spots aired for upcoming movies and TV series, which is particularly impressive when you remember that a 30-second ad this year cost as much as $5.6 million.
After carefully studying each and every one while weighing the studio’s long and short-term goals, we concluded whether or not it was worth the money.
Hunters (Amazon Prime)
Amazon Prime and Amazon Studio head Jennifer Salke are on an all-out blitz in support of the Nazi-hunting drama Hunters. Al Pacino’s small screen services don’t come cheap nor does executive producer Jordan Peele and his Monkeypaw Productions. The streaming service is clearly positioning the upcoming drama as a potential flagship series to pair with its eventual $1 billion Lord of the Rings adaptation.
Verdict: Money well spent. Hunters looks to be an appropriately eerie crime drama following the most notorious villains in human history. If Amazon’s Nazi-adjacent The Man in the High Castle could become a low-key hit for the streamer, why not go full-throttle for Hunters?
A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount Pictures)
The first Quiet Place utilized sound in a refreshingly unique manner to great effect and received a boost from an impressive performance from Emily Blunt and strong direction from John Krasinski. It became the surprise hit of the year with more than $340 million at the worldwide box office against a $20 million budget. Yet Krasinski suggested last year that he was only convinced to return for the sequel because he was able to follow a new set of characters. What changed in the interim?
Verdict: Money not well spent. A Quiet Place‘s first trailer debuted in November, five months before the film hit theaters. Part II‘s first trailer arrived on January 1, barely three months before the sequel opens nationwide. Paramount Pictures is attempting to trade in a traditional marketing campaign for one quickly highly-visible burst. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton, but not one without risk.
F9 (Universal Pictures)
Thanks to Hobbs & Shaw, F9 (the nomenclature for the Fast & Furious franchise is really something else) will be without the services of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. But that’s okay because HAN IS BACK!! That’s it, that’s all the analysis needed for this one. See you opening weekend.
Verdict: Money well spent. The Fast & Furious franchise is the most ridiculous and over-the-top film series in all of Hollywood, so it only makes sense for Universal to promote it during the ridiculously over-the-top sports night of the year.
Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
We swear we’re not trying to pick on Paramount, which has righted the ship in impressive fashion over the last 12 months. But the studio reportedly spent around $30 million redesigning the CGI for Sonic after the first trailer inspired memes of horror from the internet. The movie already carried a $90 million budget and a $5 million-plus Super Bowl ad just adds to the expenses.
Verdict: Money not well spent. But tracking projections suggest a potential $40 million-plus opening for Sonic so we would happily eat these words and see the film take off at the box office.
Black Widow (Marvel Studios)
Marvel’s Black Widow prequel added another chapter to its impressive marketing campaign thus far with an explosive Super Bowl spot. Co-stars David Harbour (Alexei Shostakov) and the recently Oscar-nominated Florence Pugh (Yelena Belova) really get to shine here. Despite being set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow will be the first entry in Marvel’s Phase IV following the events of Avengers: Endgame.
Verdict: Money well spent. Marvel has become a staple of Super Bowl advertising and with November’s Eternals still a ways away, Black Widow was the logical blockbuster to assume the mantle this year.
Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal)
How this Despicable Me spinoff series turned into a $1 billion powerhouse is beyond our understanding. Minions: The Rise of Gru debuted its first footage in the above teaser during the Super Bowl. The first full trailer is expected to arrive on February 5.
No Time to Die (United Artists)
The James Bond franchise is one of more reputational value than pure profits, but it still demands event-level handling. Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 looks to be one of the most exciting films of 2020 despite all of the behind-the-scenes drama. A fitting end to a stellar run.
Verdict: Money well spent. Duh. It’s Craig’s last movie and the first Bond film since 2002 not distributed by Sony Pictures. Go big or go home.
Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)
We already covered this Rick and Morty brand partnership in our Super Bowl ad breakdown. But for some needed context: half of Rick and Morty‘s fourth season aired last year while the next half is set to debut at some undisclosed time this year.
Verdict: Money not well spent. Given the two-year waits in between each season, fans are understandably a bit annoyed that they couldn’t even get a proper trailer.
The Invisible Man (Universal)
Universal is poised to rebound from the dual-disappointments of Cats and Dolittle. One underrated element of the studio’s strategy is the smart pivot away from the failed Dark Universe—an attempt at an MCU-level shared continuity populated by classic monster movies—and towards filmmaker-driven stand-alones that leverage the studio’s existing IP. That effort begins with Elisabeth Moss’ The Invisible Man.
Verdict: Money well spent. Both casual movie-goers and dedicated film-lovers appear to be intrigued by this new spin on H.G. Wells’ classic Invisible Man character. Blumhouse Productions rarely misses, and the under-appreciated writer/director Leigh Whannell (Upgrade, Saw) looks to have made magic once again.
Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount)
Years-in-the-making sequels have an inconsistent track record. Blade Runner 2049 and Mad Max: Fury Road are masterpieces that deserved more at the box office while Terminator: Dark Fate and Rambo: Last Blood were abject failures. Fortunately, Top Gun: Maverick looks to be all sorts of adrenaline-pumping awesome.
Verdict: Money well spent. Nostalgia, Tom Cruise, fighter jets, beach volleyball. Maverick‘s got it all.
Disney+ Marvel Shows (Marvel/Disney)
No one expected Disney to debut the first footage for its upcoming blockbuster Marvel TV series on Super Bowl Sunday, but here we are. Fans were treated to their first-ever glimpses of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision and Loki and the reception has been quite rapturous so far. Disney+ will play a major role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving forward, so starting off on the right foot is paramount.
Verdict: Money well spent. Personally, WandaVision looks to be the most unique MCU entry of all. The series will tackle mental health and grief through a structurally ambitious and singular lens of sitcom parody.