Movie Marketing Madness: Trainspotting 2

Mark, Sick Boy, Spud and the rest of the crew from the 1996 original are back in T2 Trainspotting. The new movie, appropriately, picks up 20 years after the events of the first, which ended as Mark absconded with the entirety of the money the crew had gotten as the result of a drug deal they had fallen into without entirely intending to. Mark (Ewan McGregor) is back in Edinburgh, looking to right old wrongs and heal old wounds.

That doesn’t go quite as smoothly as he intends it to. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is not doing so well, still struggling with heroin addiction. Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) is still nursing the grudge over Mark walking out two decades ago while continuing to dabble in various illegal, often drug-related activities. Worst of all, Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in prison, still angry at everyone for sending him there and ready to enact his revenge. That’s the word Mark finds himself thrust back into in this sequel, like the first one directed by Danny Boyle.

The Posters

There were a number of posters, including some character versions, released in the U.K. but for the U.S. release focused on here the main version seems to be the one showing all four of the leads staring into the camera. The expressions on their faces range from quizzical to inquisitive to outright angry, depending on the circumstance. Boyle’s previous credits, including both the original and Slumdog Millionaire, are both name-dropped here. The copy point below the title tells us to “Face your past. Choose your future.”

The Trailers

The first teaser is simple but it does what it needs to do, which is show off the returning cast. The spot opens with a train zooming by as Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” slowly gains in volume. As the train passes we see the four main characters standing there, with the screen eventually displaying their names as well. Again, it’s short but this is what fans are looking for out of the gate.

The first full trailer gets down into things, as Simon asks Mark the same question the audience has, which is what he’s been up to for the last 20 years. That’s about it for story, though, as the entire rest of the trailer is filled with the same sort of manic, drug-filled visuals that were in the first movie. We catch back up with Spud and the other characters as it’s clear Mark is returning home and meeting back up with those from his past and that there will be hijinks and action.

The trailer works *really* hard to capture the spirit of the first movie with its hyperkinetic visuals and drug-fueled rampages. How much of that is forced and how much is the natural result of Boyle reuniting with the original cast remains to be seen.

One more trailer — dubbed “Legacy” — draws the clear line between the first movie and this new one, showing that it’s a continuation of the story of those characters. Many of the same shots are in here from previous trailers and it still uses “Lust for Life” so it’s all about making sure the audience knows they can expect more of the same in this new installment.

Online and Social

The official website opens with video pulled from the trailers playing in the background, behind the title.

Start scrolling down the page, or use the navigation at the top, and “Videos” is the first section but it just has the one official trailer. After that “About” has a brief synopsis of the story. “Gallery” has a handful of stills, most of them showing McGregor and Miller. Finally “Cast & Crew” has the names of the major players involved in the movie.

Going off-site, “Updates” wants you to subscribe to email updates from the studio. “Soundtrack” opens iTunes to get you to buy the album and finally “Poster Maker” lets you create a version of the poster featuring your own name and photo which can be shared on social channels. There are also links here to movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

No TV advertising that I could find but it’s possible there was a bit done overseas, just not in the U.S. And I’m not aware of any online or outdoor advertising either.

Media and Publicity

The cast talked about the movie here and there, including an interview with Carlyle where he mentioned his emotional reaction to first reading the script and more. Clips and behind-the-scenes featurettes were dropped here and there to keep conversation going. And Boyle spoke about what convinced him to dive back into this world and these characters while he and McGregor revealed why they didn’t speak for almost a decade but eventually reconnected.

There was a lot of press and McGregor in particular did the talk show rounds, particularly in the U.K. The U.S. campaign was a little less full-throated but still worked to get the word out.

A last effort to get some positive word of mouth going came when it the movie was the “secret screening” happening at the recent SXSW film festival in the last week.

Overall

There’s an overt — and sometimes heavy-handed — reliance on nostalgia throughout the campaign, occasionally veering into selling this as a remake of the first movie more than a sequel. In that regard it’s pretty similar to this week’s Beauty and the Beast remake. But it also sells its own unique experience, catching up with these characters after 20 years to see what’s going on and what’s new with them.

It shares that approach with other recent legacy sequels to movies like Independence Day, Zoolander and others. But at least it’s more overt about it, revelling in how it recreates key moments from the original and making it part of the story, about how we keep making the same mistakes in life and are in many ways unable to escape our past, no matter how far we run. The campaign sells it as a high-adrenaline, fast-paced bit of fun, which is more you can say about those other movies.

Want to get Movie Marketing Madness via email? Sign up here. Then connect with MMM on Twitter and Facebook.

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.