In early 2013, ProSocial partnered with Roadside Attractions to build grassroots support for the U.S. theatrical opening of EMPEROR in over 250 theaters nationwide. The film, starring Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur and Matthew Fox in his first leading film role, tells the story of the critical mission of the U.S. military to determine the fate of Emperor Hirohito in post-World War II Japan. EMPEROR illuminates the historical significance of the Hirohito’s exoneration, and prompts modern-day conversations about peacemaking, U.S.-Japan relations and the morals of war.
Charged with driving audience for the theatrical release of EMPEROR, ProSocial first drew upon early movie testing, the project’s historical advisors and the key political, social and cultural issues highlighted in the project to identify the most promising audience demographics for targeted outreach. From there, we tapped our wide network to develop partnerships across these targets. Across areas – including Japanese-American, historical and veterans communities, among others – we connected with over 300 organizations including national nonprofits, government entities, museums, think tanks, educational institutions, local community groups and more – building on prior ProSocial relationships and cultivating new outreach partnerships on a very short timeline.
"Within weeks they'd mapped the potential audience landscape, reached out to hundreds of organizations and created key national partnerships with groups that saw synergies between the film's content and their own missions, sparking conversation and contributing to our box office success."Eric d'Arbeloff
Owner & Co-President
Over a three-month engagement, ProSocial built partnerships with key pertinent organizations; developed communication collateral; planned selected strategic preview and discussion events; promoted the film to target audiences and communities; and garnered specialty and social media coverage within these niche groups. We brought on groups to help drive their communities to this important film, and participate in a national conversation about its relevant social issues. And they did.
Through our outreach, we reached hundreds of thousands of American movie-goers. Most notably, we developed a robust collaboration with the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans social organization – with over 2.5 million members. ProSocial worked alongside the American Legion to implement high-visibility web presence and editorial coverage; a preview screening and discussion at the organization’s conference; a discussion guide tailored for the American Legion family; and a call to action empowering Legionnaires nationwide to go see the film in theaters and discuss it locally. ProSocial also partnered with the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, the UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies and the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center to execute pre-release screenings and discussions. Other organizations with which we partnered included the Japanese Consulate, the National Association of Japanese-America Societies, the Military Officers Association of America, the Phi Alpha Theta Historical Honor Society, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Society for Military History and the U.S.-Asia Institute.
Released on March 8, 2013, EMPEROR exceeded domestic opening weekend box office predictions, hitting over $1M on 260 screens with an impressive per-screen average of $3,900. And the deep work we conducted in target demographics not only led to high box office, but has positioned the film for long-term success in these communities – through home video release, and beyond.
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