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Thor Beats X-Men in Movie Marketing Smackdown

Studio: Paramount
Budget: Roughly $150 million
Marketing: When your strongest weapon has a name like Mjolnir, it might be best to introduce yourself to audiences early. The marketing for Thor started at the tail end of Iron Man 2, when a scene after the credits featured a secret government organization coming across what looked like Thor's hammer. From there, Thor was introduced to America in just about the broadest way possible: Through a $3 million, 30-second ad during Super Bowl XLV.

From there, the marketers jumped aboard as Acura (HMC - Get Report) announced that its vehicles would appear in Thor as the official car of super spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., which already appeared in Hulk and Iron Man films and likely means more partnerships for films leading into The Avengers. 7-Eleven, meanwhile, jumps on with Marvel for the eighth time to provide 10 Thor-themed Slurpee cups. Burger King, true to form, will pack Thor toys into kids meals, while Dr. Pepper will feature the Norse god on its cans. Visa (V - Get Report), meanwhile, is being a little more adult about its comic book business and letting Visa Signature cardholders get ticket deals through Sega, meanwhile, already released a video game for the film earlier this week, while Hasbro (HAS - Get Report) has released a line of Thor-themed toys.

"There's always a risk of a sponsor getting lost in the mix, but there's a greater risk," Greenfield says. "The biggest issue is not being lost in the white noise, but a product breaking my suspension of disbelief even for a moment, like in music videos where the screen pauses on an object to get it more screen time."

The gamble's worked out for the sponsors so far, as Thor has made $116 million before even setting foot in the U.S.

X-Men: First Class
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Budget: $120 million
Marketing: When Fox execs named this film X-Men: First Class, maybe they were referring to the first Photoshop class their marketing department took before making the movie's much-maligned posters.

That's pretty much been the story of how the marketing for this film has proceeded so far: Lots of mystery, little information. We know that Hasbro's creating a toy line for the film, so that's good. We also know British singer Robbie Williams and his relic of a British boy band Take That are contributing a song to the film's soundtrack. Knowing this film's geeky and primarily male target demographic, that move's understandable, but still likely ill-advised.

The problem is that Marvel's treated this film like its redheaded stepchild almost from the jump, preferring to keep its marketing and publicity behind Thor and the upcoming Captain America to the point that those two films share many of the same sponsors. In contrast to Thor, whose first theatrical trailers appeared in December, X-Men: First Class' Web teaser didn't appear until February and its full trailers didn't crop up until the end of April.

Even if Marvel regulars such as 7-Eleven, Burger King and Dr. Pepper were jumping aboard for X-Men, the month between the two films doesn't leave a lot of room for turnaround time or a lot of leeway if Thor is an Iron Man-style success. We'll just disregard the fact that First Class shares little with the previous X-Men films besides a common ancestry, that two years after X-Men Origins: Wolverine may be just a touch early for a series reboot and that fans who know of an X-Men Origins: Deadpool film in the planning stages and a potential third sequel to the original X-Men film in the works might just take a pass on this loosely associated one-off. The fact that Marvel and 20th Century Fox themselves have put so little weight behind it shows why marketers have been so tight-lipped about potential tie-ins.

The winner: Thor, by a hammer-to-the-temple knockout

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.


Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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