Dr. Christopher Wielgos
College Writing II
Visual Rhetorical Analysis
10 March 2015
New Movie, Same Strategy
The original movie, Monsters, Inc., was brought to theaters in 2001. This movie was a staple in the childhoods of many. It was a must see movie of the year and is still aired on television to this day. The franchise later came out with a movie that gave background stories to the characters of the original Monsters, Inc. film called Monsters University. This movie made its way to the big screen in 2013. The film had an expanded audience because not only was it a children’s movie, but it also attracted those who were children and viewed as the prime audience for the first film. Both movies did amazingly well in the box office sales. This was likely due to the advertisement that was used to promote each of the films. The films were produced by Disney Pixar. The producers noticed that the advertisements used for the original film were so effective, that they decided to nearly replicate them to promote the newer motion picture. They were lucky in the fact that the posters and advertisements did attract just as large, if not larger, of an audience to the theater. The use of simple, yet affective posters and the sense of nostalgia generated towards the film was an act of marketing genius and could be used to help Disney Pixar promote future films.
The original film, Monster, Inc., depicted the adventures of best friends, James P. “Sully” Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, at work and the crazy situations they got themselves into at the Monsters Incorporated. The main poster that was used to promote the movie was a picture of Mike and Sully. Sully is leaning on Mike with his hand placed on top of his head and his legs crossed like he is relaxing. Mike is giving a thumbs up with a big, toothy grin. Their poses attract the viewer because they are two abnormal looking monsters that are smiling and seemingly enjoying themselves. This is where the eye is first attracted because it is the largest and only image on the poster. The colors of the characters contrasts with the white background to put even more emphasis on Mike and Sully. At the top of the poster “From the Creators of Toy Story” in bold print along with the Toy Story logo. This attracts the reader’s attention due to the bold font. The mention of the movie Toy Story also adds credibility to the Monsters, Inc. movie because it was one of the most popular animated children’s movies ever produced. In fact all three of the Toy Story movies are in the top fifteen highest earning G rated movies of all time earning over $850 million dollars combined. This lets the audience know that they can look forward to a good movie. Along the bottom of the poster is the movie title, Monsters, Inc., in blue with an eye in the “M” and all of the letters are capitalized. Below the title are the words “In Cinemas Soon” that is in black, bold font. This shows that although it is a family film, its presence in the theaters is important, as well as leaving the reader wanting more. They will want to look for more posters or more information on the film to see if they can find the release date. The poster also mentions that the movie is produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar, which are known for their family films that are both appropriate for wide audiences as well as entertaining.
The response that the original movie received was so immense, that Disney and Pixar decided to release the prequel to the Mike and Sully duo in the movie Monsters University. In this film, Mike and Sully are both in the scaring program and cannot stand each other. The two end up being kicked out of the scaring program due to their fighting and have to work together to regain their spots. Throughout the movie their friendship develops and they become inseparable. The poster that advertised the film is almost identical to the one that was used to advertise the original. Mike and Sully are featured as the focal point to draw in the audience’s attention, especially because they again contrast against the white background. Sully is again leaning on Mike with both of them smiling and wearing their university jackets. Mike is standing on a stack of textbooks to show that the movie will take place in an academic setting. Both characters are also displaying smiles relaying an aura of good feelings to the viewer. Once the reader is drawn in by the characters’ images, their eyes are drawn upward toward the large “MU”, which is the abbreviation for Monsters University. The “M” even has the eye in the middle like the one used on for the original movie. After the reader has had the chance to take in all of this detail, their eyes are directed toward the bottom of the poster where the release date and production company name is located. The difference being, there is an actual date for the audiences to plan to see the movie and no other film is referenced on the poster.
Disney and Pixar did not only release one poster advertising the release of both movies, but several that mirrored one another. Mike Wazowski is ultimately the main character in both movies, therefore it only makes sense to have a poster where he is the sole focus. In the poster for Monsters, Inc., the focus is once again on the character with a white background to limit distractions for the eye. The character used is Mike, standing with a shocked expression on his face. Mike’s expression is supported by the bold, black, block lettering above him that presents the statement, “YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYE”. This is used to get an emotional response from the reader that is excitement. By appealing to positive emotions with the audience, they are more likely to see the movie because they believe it will be enjoyable. The poster then goes on to mimic the previous poster containing both Mike and Sully, referencing the Toy Story franchise above the text to build credibility with the views and even the audiences that are fans of the Toy Story movies. The movie name is then placed at the bottom alone with the company Disney Pixar and the phrase “In Cinemas Soon”. This is a sense of continuation. It allows the posters to be associated with one another.
The creators of Monsters University continued the pattern of replicating the original movie posters while still adapting them to the new film. The poster has the white background that allows the viewer to focus on the character in the center just as the previous three posters have. Mike is once again on the poster alone. Monsters University is the background story of Mike and Sully, but it is mainly the coming of age story of a young Mike Wazowski, which is why there are posters that feature him alone. On this poster, Mike is wearing Monsters University winter gear, suggesting that this advertisement came out during the colder weather. This is supported by the text that is above Mike in gray, bold, block lettering saying “CLASSES BEGIN THIS SUMMER”. This along with Mike’s smile and books allow the audience to identify with the poster. It is relatable with the time of year, where kids are typically in school. It also puts a positive spin on the idea of classes by associating academics with an animated family film. The movie title, Monsters University, and production company, Disney Pixar, are displayed at the bottom of the poster catching the reader’s eye at the end. This is followed by the addition of a Facebook website for the production company for access to more information about this movie and others that have put into theaters.
Monsters, Inc. kept a theme throughout all of its advertisements, continuing to use the white background with a character as the main focus. Again, Mike was chosen to represent the 3D edition of the film. The poster is nearly identical to the poster of Mike promotion the movie on his own. Mike is the focal point, holding 3D glasses with a shocked expression on his face. He appears almost in awe of what he is seeing through the glasses, which is meant to entice the audience to go see the movie again the 3D. The title has moved above Mike and is placed over a blue 3D with the Disney “D” in the center. The viewer’s eyes are then meant to continue to travel upward to the production company name, and then to the lettering at the top that reads “RETURNING TO THEATERS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 3D” in gray, block font. This is asking the audience to return to theaters to see the movie again in 3D. The text supports the visual because it shows the movie is so amazing that the audience should see it twice. The release date is at the bottom in gray lettering, December 19, which is a month and a half after the original release of the movie.
Monsters University in 3D finally changed up the advertising. This poster is a complete change from all of the other posters shown so far. The poster shows a majority of the characters that are featured in the movie in a movie theater. They are all wearing 3D glasses with smiles on their face, some even have snacks. This shows how enjoyable the movie will be in 3D. This, however, is not what draws the eye in first. The eye is immediately attracted to the title in the upper center of the poster because it is illuminated by the projection light. This is presenting the film to the viewer as a box office hit. The reader is then drawn upward to the phrase, which is the only similarity to the poster for Monsters, Inc., “YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES” in white, block lettering. The eyes are then drawn to the characters in the theater, and finally the release date and further information on the movie in the bottom right corner. Another difference is that the 2D and 3D movies were released on the same day allowing the audience to choose either option. Audiences are drawn in by the change, while still being able to appreciate small, consistent details.
The Monsters franchise keeps its advertising simple and effective. They continually use the same theme to draw the reader’s eyes and it has become a staple for their brand. Their strategies are streamlined and accentuate the essential details, but they have shown it is acceptable to change it up every once in a while. Their marketing strategies prove to be successful because they continued to draw in the audiences and helped Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University become the fourth and fifth highest earning G rated movies of all time.
It just goes to show, keeping it classic with a simple twist expresses ideas effectively while remaining appealing.