Hey, did you guys know there was a movie called Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues that JUST came out? At this point, I would be stunned if you didn’t—if I was to give an award for the largest marketing push for a film in 2013, it would go to Anchorman 2 hands down. The marketing effort behind this one was simply insane—there were a ton of trailers for the film, and non-stop TV spots covering seemingly every inch of television in the weeks leading up to the sequel’s release. But most notable of all is the press tours that the actors endured in an effort to promote the films—and in particular, the kind of crazy efforts by Will Ferrell to put his Ron Burgundy character…well, everywhere. Durango commercials, Sportscenter, museums, book signings, tiny newscasts in North Dakota—none of them were safe from the wrath of the Ron. But now the film has finally released, and the press tour seems to be mostly over with. So with the smoke clearing a bit on this whole affair, now’s the time to ask: was it worth it? Did the advertising for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues benefit or harm the finished product overall? Unfortunately, I might be leaning to the latter at this point.
Don’t get me wrong, I respect the hell out of Will Ferrell for going as far as he did with this promotional tour. Seriously, if you can say anything about the guy, it’s that he has commitment—clearly he has a love for the role, and is willing to give the character as much time in the spotlight as possible. You don’t see that many actors be as gung-ho about playing a character as much as Ferrell is, and there’s certainly a lot to respect to be had for a guy who’s willing to take his act as far as Ferrell does. All that said, I’m still not sure it actually helped the film, both business wise AND quality wise. Let’s talk the business aspect first.
So far at least, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues has taken in around $56 million in its first eight days of release which, yes, isn’t a bomb to be sure. But it is a tad lower than expected—during my In Theaters column last weekend, I expected the film to make close to that much in the first five days alone. And I wasn’t the only one either—most kind of assumed it would be a huge success simply because Paramount marketed it so heavily, and the star power between all the leads was golden. But honestly, even if Ferrell didn’t parade Burgundy around in the past few weeks, chances are it would have opened at the same number anyways. Which, once again, isn’t a bad number at all, especially considering the film’s rather low budget of $50 million. The film will be a success for Paramount—but not a huge $200 million one that an advertising campaign like this one would usually dictate.
But as outlets like BoxOfficeMojo have pointed out, the ads for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues might have done more harm than good when it comes to enticing audiences into the theater. Because ads for Ancohrman 2 WERE everywhere—and it’s only a matter of time before casual audiences get burnt out on it. Which honestly brings me to the main point of this article—taking the whole business aspect out of the equation, the marketing for Anchorman 2 certainly harmed my viewing of the film.
One of the most crucial elements of any comedy is the element of surprise and, for some of the best jokes of the film, that element of surprise was completely gone. I knew what was coming a mile away, simply because I had seen it plastered all over my television for weeks. Stuff like Brick freaking out about the green screen and Ron saying incredibly racist things to his girlfriend’s family lost all of their humor for me, just because I had seen the same joke shoved down my throat so many times that my brain no longer registered it as a surprise—which for me at least, took away quite a bit of the humor from a lot of the film’s biggest gags.
And this happening with me and comedy films isn’t anything new—that’s why I mostly avoid comedy trailers like the plague leading up to the release of one I’m really looking forward to. For both The World’s End and This is the End, I made sure to see practically nothing from the film’s beforehand—I went in relatively fresh, and feel I got an infinitely better experience because of that. And so yeah, right now you’re probably saying “what made Anchorman 2 so different?” Simple folks; it was near impossible for me to avoid some of this marketing. The TV spots especially popped up all the time, and since I watch a lot of TV, I just had to sit there and take them. And at first, I was considering that whole cover your ears, turn away nonsense…but after awhile, I let my guard down. Why did I do that?
Because I honestly felt I was safe with the marketing. Director Adam McKay has been going around for months now saying how many alternate jokes were left on the cutting room floor before the final cut was finalized, reportedly enough to make an entirely different film (ala Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’s Wake Up, Ron Burgundy.) Knowing this, I kind of figured a lot of the advertising wouldn’t match up with the finished product and, well there’s certainly a gag or two that is different in the promotional material than it is in the final film (including one completely cut out, advertised to hell scene involving the Channel 4 News Team interrogating a homosexual guy), I was bummed to find out that a lot of what’s shown in the marketing was played verbatim in the film itself.
Overall, I won’t say the advertising campaign killed the film or anything—most of the third act isn’t included in the marketing at all, and is easily the film’s best portion due to its surprising, unpredictable nature. That said, I suffered from the same case of regret I did with a lack of shock watching one very cameo heavy scene towards the end, but that one’s completely on me—I didn’t have to read the leaked list of cameos before seeing the film, but I fucked up and did anyways. Oh well, can’t really blame Paramount for that one. The marketing however? It was kind of impossible to avoid, at least for me. At the end of the day, I appreciate the effort put into the marketing campaign, especially by Ferrell—but honestly? Like most films, it’s best to avoid as much as you can beforehand when it comes to Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
But what do you guy’s think? Did the insane amount of advertising for the film harm your experience watching it? Do you think Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy press tour was a smart move to market the film, or a big waste of time? Be sure to let us know in the comments. And if you haven’t caught it yet, here’s my review of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. And for even more Anchorman 2 talk, be sure to check out the Screen Bites podcast review of the film with guest Matt Singer of The Dissolve. Now I shall cease speaking of the film until the inevitable talks of an Anchorman 3 pop up. See you then!