Extraterrestrial Movie Marketing

In a world where movies rely on marketing more than ever to connect with audiences, one podcast aims to make sense of it all…

What’s in this episode?

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Alien and the return of Men in Black, we dissect some of the best & worst space creature movie marketing.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Show Notes

We look at the following elements when deciding what works or doesn’t work for each movie’s marketing efforts. The categories and marketing initiatives will make more sense when you listen to the podcast…

Topic #1: Successful Alien Marketing

These marketing efforts were otherworldly in helping their films hunt down human moviegoers…


Poster — Like the movie itself, the poster uses scarcity and the unknown to create a sense of dread. In this case, the cracked alien egg with its glowing green interior against a black backdrop alludes to something otherworldly and menacing.
Tagline — It does what great taglines do—it uses just a handful of words to say so much. In this case, we know (1) it’s set in space; and (2) that something ominous or scary is going to happen. Also effectively inserts “you” and makes the reader/viewer feel that much closer to the threat.

Independence Day

Poster — The movie posters used big disaster moments from the movie, similar to the trailer.
Trailer — If memory serves us right, this trailer originally premiered as a teaser during the Super Bowl prior to the film’s July 1996 release. It became a template for a lot of teaser trailers too, providing a single defining moment that wows the audience.

District 9

Viral Campaign — This movie had a smaller budget of $30 million and no real stars. So to promote it, the marketers sold the film on its interesting sci-fi concept (what if aliens lived among us almost like refugees that were discriminated against). To do this they launched a viral campaign where they placed signage around big cities that featured the image of an alien with a busted symbol around it and the text “For Humans Only.” They also had a website where people could learn more. They also did not explicitly state this was movie marketing, instead relying on people to be curious enough to investigate. The campaign was a hit and it helped build interest in the film—which had a $37 million opening weekend & wound up grossing $115 million domestic.

Topic #2: Less-than-Successful Alien Marketing

Why weren’t these movies bigger hits? Was it a failure on the marketing side?

The Abyss

Movie Poster and Trailer — It’s clear they had no idea how to market this movie. What did they do wrong?

Starship Troopers

Movie Poster — It seems like they were trying to sell this as a war movie, which is an interesting approach. The name was very kid-like but had an R rating. This movie is a tough sell. How should they have marketed it?

Edge of Tomorrow: Live. Die. Repeat.

Movie Marketing and Naming — Did the title keep this movie from being more successful? Originally named All You Need Is Kill. Then it changed last minute to the more generic Edge of Tomorrow. Since the release its title flipped again, becoming known by its tagline “Live. Die. Repeat.” This is a better title, but confusing for moviegoers.