Make a note: Summer 2013 was the time the biggest actors of the ’90s took a cue from the younger kiddos and started really promoting their summer films in a new way.
Call it part of the Timberlake effect. Justin Timberlake pulled out all the stops promoting his album The 20/20 Experience in March, memorably hosting Saturday Night Live, co-hosting a week of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, heck, he even had a Target-sponsored release party that aired on The CW. Some people rolled their eyes, but the 24/7 attack paid off: The album opened at No. 1, moving 968,000 copies its first week.
Will Smith certainly seemed to be following Timberlake’s lead with his 100 percent all-in approach to getting people into theaters to see After Earth. This alone isn’t new: Smith has always been a good sport about promoting his movies, but this time around, he seemed to be really trying: He hit the talk show circuit hard by reuniting and performing the iconic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song (with Alfonso Ribeiro!) and kissing his son during a televised chat that seemed designed as viral Internet bait. He might as well have gotten in the ring and shouted, “Are you not entertained?”
Now Brad Pitt, who wasn’t previously in the late-night viral video game — unfortunate Chanel ad aside — is also taking a page from Timberlake’s playbook and getting in on the fun by yodeling, of all things, with Jimmy Fallon. Would the Pitt of four years ago ever done something so goofy? (Remember: The big promotion he did for The Tree of Life or Moneyball was a serious magazine spread talking Angelina Jolie and the kids.) Up to this point, the goofiest “viral video” Pitt ever appeared in was as part of a huge ensemble for Jimmy Kimmel. Now, in addition to trying out his singing voice, Pitt has been showing up to screenings all over the country to sign autographs and chat with fans while reminding people, P.S., World War Z is in theaters soon, and he’d really, really like you to see it.
With younger stars like Channing Tatum — who regularly appears in goofy late-night segments — at their heels with their own big summer movies like White House Down, it’s no surprise that the A-listers of a decade ago suddenly are trying just a bit harder with respect to actively promoting their would-be blockbusters. It’ll be interesting to see if George Clooney — next up in the buzzy Gravity this fall — will take a cue from Timberlake and his pal Pitt and show up on the late-night couch to read mean tweets about himself … or maybe even yodel.