Disney’s Savvy Marketing of ‘The Jungle Book’

Disney’s Savvy Marketing of ‘The Jungle Book’

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Disney adaptations such as The Jungle Book don't draw the masses as Star Wars, says The New York Times' Brooke Barnes. In this piece, she details how Disney went about marketing its live version of the cartoon classic. It's a fascinating insight into the thinking behind The Jungle Book, how to attract males to the franchise and keep the hype positive.


“All of this, honestly, is one big magic trick.”

Those words, spoken by the director Jon Favreau, were meant to sum up the technological wizardry on display in his hyperrealistic remake of “The Jungle Book,” which was largely created with computers. But Mr. Favreau could also have been describing the way Walt Disney Studios used marketing sleight of hand to fill seats on opening weekend. “The Jungle Book” took in an astounding $103.6 million in North America, according to Disney.

Studios hate to discuss their marketing for fear of coming across as corporate versions of Kaa, the slippery “Jungle Book” python who hypnotizes prey. (“Trusssst in me.”) But movies — especially ones as tricky as “The Jungle Book,” a stylized film based on a cartoon musical, based on a classic book — do not sell themselves. Here are some of the tricks that Disney, which declined to comment, used to move the masses:

Toss Red Meat to the Base

In August, Mr. Favreau bounded onto a 7,800-seat arena at a Disney fan convention in Anaheim, Calif., and showed sneak-peek footage from his film. He hobnobbed with three “Jungle Book” stars on stage, including Neel Sethi, who plays the man-cub Mowgli. Thousands of movie posters were handed out.

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