Are ticketholders more likely to open their wallets as do-gooders, or vice versa?
Marketing moviegoing with a philanthropic touch is nothing new, especially for event films, as it’s a great way to get a film free publicity during a crowded year-end season at the box office. For those generating Oscar buzz, the move can help releases push their awards campaign’s narrative through a charitable one.
Ahead of the Dec. 21 release of Patriots Day — the Peter Berg-helmed drama starring Mark Wahlberg as a police sergeant on the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers — CBS Films and Lionsgate have announced the Patriots Day Charity Campaign, an accompanying fundraising push that will equally benefit nearly 20 charities in the Boston area that honor or provide services for the first responders, medical professionals and survivors of the bombing. Donations are being collected until the end of January, while the film will give $200,000 to the participating causes, as well as a pair of tickets to the Boston red-carpet screening to each participating organization.
Meanwhile, The Weinstein Company, See Saw Films and The Charity Network launched #LionHeart in conjunction with last week’s release of Lion, which tells the true story of how Saroo, a five-year-old boy, gets separated from his family in India and, 25 years later, uses Google Earth to find his way home. The campaign aims to raise awareness and funds for India-based nonprofit organizations: Magic Bus, which educates at-risk children on best practices for prevention and equips them with education and the life skills necessary to move out of poverty; and Railway Children, which fights for vulnerable children who live alone at risk on the streets and in railway stations, where they suffer abuse and exploitation.
“Unfortunately, stories like Saroo’s are all too common. Over 80,000 children go missing each year, and there are over 11 million children living on the streets in India alone,” says the film’s star Dev Patel in a Chideo clip. “Helping India’s most vulnerable children isn’t about signing a petition, making a phone call or clicking a ‘Like’ button. There are organizations on the ground doing amazing work to help kids like Saroo, and the best way we can help is by giving them the financial support they so desperately need.”
While the Patriots Day and Lion campaigns are both benefiting causes directly related to the true stories on which the films are based, a Rogue One: A Star Wars Story initiative opts to use its fandom’s knack for merchandising for good. Similar to last year’s Force Awakens tie-in, Disney, Target and Star Wars: Force for Change launched a line of Force 4 Fashion tees, designed by 10 influencers in film, music, fashion and sports (now available at Target).
Each T-shirt design — featuring stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, June Ambrose, Steve Aoki, Camilla Belle, Gareth Edwards, Olivia Munn, Kelly Slater and Brittany Snow — echoes the film’s theme of standing up for what you believe in. Five dollars from the sale of each shirt will be donated to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in support of UNICEF Kid Power, which sees kids completing physical activities and interactive challenges to earn points, ultimately used to provide life-saving packets of food for severely malnourished children around the world. Said Paul Southern, senior vp, licensing for Lucasfilm at Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media: “Everyone connected to this initiative has been a Force for Change in different ways, and we hope their stories will inspire others to get involved.”