How Netflix Created Billboards That Drip Sweat to Promote Chris Hemsworth's 'Extraction 2'

Variety 23.06.2023 18:24:39 Rebecca Rubin

Chris Hemsworth dangles from skyscrapers, dodges a fiery helicopter and survives several bludgeons to the head as former black ops mercenary Tyler Rake in Netflix's blockbuster sequel "Extraction 2." Now, onlookers can feel (literally!) the sweat that drips from Hemsworth's chiseled face during those unrelenting, death-defying sequences through interactive billboards in New York City and Los Angeles.

It's all part of Netflix's unconventional marketing strategy for the film, one that's designed to make viewers at home feel like they are part of the action. Directed by Sam Hargrave, "Extraction 2" picks up as Tyler Rake, back from the brink of death, embarks on a risky mission to save the imprisoned family of a ruthless gangster.

"The movie is adrenaline-packed," says Netflix's chief marketing officer Marian Lee. "We really think about testing new things. We have traditional billboards, too. But the sweaty billboards were great."

A first-of-its-kind innovation, Netflix constructed billboards of Tyler Rake that have technology to make it look like the hulking character is perspiring as intensely as he does on screen. Here's how the magic was made: Lasers were used to cut holes into Hemsworth's characters forehead to replicate pores. Then, there was a water supply behind the board that was pumped through the holes at a pressure and frequency to mirror the consistency of sweat.

And rather than erecting them over busy streets and bustling highways, the marketing instillations were strategically set up on the sidewalk so that passersby were able to touch and take selfies with the larger-than-life posters. Plus, people wouldn't be able to see the individual beads of sweat that trickle down Hemsworth's face if the billboards were towering too far above the road.

"Fans want elements where they can interact," Lee says. "They want to interact with talent," she admits. "But they want to participate with interactive and photographable moments. It's really important to have tangible things that fans can do."

That's been especially true in these post-COVID times, she adds. Those kind of interactive features were impossible when the first "Extraction" debuted in April 2020, in the height of the pandemic's stay-at-home orders. "We weren't able to do that much because the world was on lockdown," Lee says.

Of course, there's no way to know how many of the people who took a selfie with the sweaty Hemsworth billboard actually turned on the movie at home. But Netflix says "Extraction 2" became the most viewed title of the week, watched by an estimated 42.8 million people in its first three days on the platform. And the sequel's popularity drove interest on the original film, which was re-upped as the second-most watched movie of the same week with 9.6 million views. To punctuate the success, Netflix announced that "Extraction 3" is already in the works.

"We can't directly measure the fandom that is coming to Netflix to view the movie," Lee says. "But we know it happens."

Similar to the rollout for "Extraction," the marketing team at Netflix also capitalized on Hemsworth's status as an internet boyfriend to maximum effect. The Aussie actor was game to film an ASMR video, which shows how crunching celery and punching steak can be used to mimic the sounds of snapping bones and splattered blood. In another clip, he and Hargrave took viewers behind the scenes of the film's epic 21-minute-long chase sequence. Social media is key to engaging the fans who aren't able to check out the on-the-ground efforts in entertainment hubs like New York and L.A.

"We think of custom ideas for every format. Shorter content works on TikTok. We're not going to post the whole trailer," Lee says. "The worst thing we could ever do is have one asset and put it on every channel."

It helps to have a star like Hemsworth, who doesn't just show up to set, read his lines and leave, but then works to keep the enthusiasm for the film going until it hits the streaming service.

'"Chris is really involved in the marketing ideas and makes them better," Lee says. "He gives us notes. He says, 'It can be funnier if we do it this way.'"

There's now a challenge to keep upping the ante for marketing efforts tied to the third installment in the action franchise. Perhaps an "Extraction" billboard that spits out fire?

"It's an interesting dilemma," Lee says. "We always like to top ourselves. Who knows what insane innovation will be around when 'Extraction 3' comes to Netflix."

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vendredi 23 juin 2023 21:24:39 Categories:

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