You might have heard bits here and there about the upcoming Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk. Just weeks away from hitting theaters, the action thriller tells the epic tale of how the British rescued more than 300,000 Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France.
With the film set for a July 21st release, it’s prime time for promotion. Along with the industry standard press junkets and interviews, they’ve partnered with Amazon for an adventure game that can be played with Alexa, and a cinema on wheels has been touring the U.S. to give audiences a sneak peek at the first 5 minutes of the film.
— Dunkirk (@dunkirkmovie) May 23, 2017
I got to see the prologue when it stopped in Boston, and let me tell you: this film has all the makings of a blockbuster. In a handy numbered list, I’ve outlined the 3 reasons why.
1. From a film standpoint, it’s just fantastic.
Snappy editing, minimal dialogue, and breathtaking cinematography set the pace from the first few seconds. The ominous ticking sound, like a stopwatch or a bomb, ramps up the anticipation and gives a great sense of dread. Something’s going to happen. You just don’t know when or what.
The film opens on the beach with two soldiers carrying another on a stretcher between them, pushing through crowds and walking across thin, fragile boards to get their friend to safety. You’re thrown right into the action. Then you’re in the air. Then you’re back in England. You’re never left in one place for long enough to get comfortable, and that’s the goal. There’s a lot going on, but it’s not hard to follow.
War movies may be considered on the niche side, but it won’t bog the audience down with historical details. Yes, the context is extremely important, but there’s no sitting there while a character delivers the information through a boring monologue. Like I said: you’re dumped right onto the beach with the soldiers from the opening seconds.
Summer is the best time to release an action thriller, and this fits the bill. The recent proven success of action movies (good ones, that is—forget the recent Transformers), combined with Nolan’s name and directing chops, is a recipe for a blockbuster. And it’s even just distant enough from the opening of Spider-Man: Homecoming that it won’t be overshadowed.
2. The cast and crew are loaded with heavy-hitters.
Even if the name Christopher Nolan doesn’t really ring a bell, I guarantee at least one of his films will. Inception, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar are all Nolan films.
Looking to the cast, the newcomers are balanced out by seasoned actors. Big names like Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Cillian Murphy feature in the cast; newcomers include Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, and Harry Styles.
The epic soundtrack is the work of Hans Zimmer, who is a frequent Nolan collaborator. He’s also done the scores for The Lion King, The DaVinci Code, Black Hawk Down, Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, and dozens more.
3. The marketing is a little unconventional, but is getting attention.
As mentioned earlier, the Alexa game and the mobile prologue van have been grabbing attention in the weeks leading up to Dunkirk‘s release. Both are decidedly modern methods for a film set in 1940, but it’s working. The #Dunkirk hashtag has been tweeted more than 400,000 times to unlock exclusive 360° video clips.
From what I observed waiting to get into the prologue experience, the majority of people who went in knew very little about the film. Some were lured in by the director’s name, some were interested by the subject matter, and some just wanted to spend five minutes in air conditioning. The point is, the goal of advertising is to get your material in front of as many people as possible, and this is an unobtrusive, smart, engaging way of doing it.
In short, this film has everything going for it. From a stellar director and cast to the production elements that make films incredible, there’s no reason for this not to be a summer blockbuster.
Watch the trailer for Dunkirk below: