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As Robert Pattinson was about to step onto the red carpet at the April 17 premiere of Water for Elephants in New York, photographers frantically yelled at one woman, “Lady, lady, get out of the way.” Little did they know they were screaming at Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler, who made the period romantic drama that stars Pattinson opposite Reese Witherspoon.
Being anywhere near the young actor means dealing with Twilight mania, but fans of the vampire saga certainly didn’t come out in droves last year to see Pattinson’s film Remember Me. So, from the outset, Fox has pinned Elephant‘s marketing campaign to Sara Gruen‘s best-selling novel of the same name and the love story at the heart of the tale about life in the circus during the Great Depression.
Witherspoon and Pattinson — the protagonist of the film and in almost every scene — have done most of the press for the movie together. But Elephants, because of its setting, isn’t an easy sell and could take time to grow. Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) directed the film adaptation, while Christoph Waltz and Hal Holbrook also star.
Going out Friday in 2,817 theaters, Elephants isn’t expected to have a big opening, with Fox estimating a weekend gross of $13 million to $15 million, though the film has increased its momentum with adult females. The studio believes the movie will serve as counterprogramming as summer tentpoles start to unfurl and that it will play like an adult drama. Elephants cost $40 million to produce.
There’s no doubt that Fox has taken advantage of the vast network of Twilight fans in marketing the film.
At the premiere, representatives from groups like TwilightMOMS were assigned spots on the red carpet, and its site has documented Pattinson’s every move in promoting Elephants. Other Twilight fan sites have done the same.
Latest tracking shows an uptick in the number of younger women who want to see Elephants, although females over the age of 25 — the demo who turned the book into a best-seller — continued to lead. As with younger females, interest among older men is picking up.
Witherspoon and Pattinson, along with Waltz, will now begin promoting Water for Elephants overseas, where it begins rolling out in earnest on April 29.
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