Ryan Reynolds took a page out of the Tom Holland trailer release handbook and tweeted out a link to what he thought might be a pirated link to Detective Pikachu. Of course, millions of people clicked the link and it went viral.
The tweet was made to supposedly alert Warner Bros. about the leak, but it was obviously a brilliant marketing tool. The YouTube video includes a few minutes of the opening sequence of Detective Pikachu followed by 102 minutes of Pikachu dancing to some electronic tunes.
So, we obviously know this was just viral marketing to hype the movie, but I think it's pretty interesting. Hollywood has forever been completely against piracy. It takes away from theatrical and damages home video proceeds. They talk about it as a direct influence on hurting jobs within the industry too. There's even a huge Hollywood lawsuit going on over pirated movies being available online.
That's why I think this epic rick-roll is such a brilliant marketing idea. It takes maybe the most secretively serious issue in Hollywood and makes it a marketing ploy. And it makes sense to have a comedic actor take on this
As mentioned in Variety, Reynolds also released an “Inside the Actors Studio” spoof about his method-acting process for getting into the Pikachu role: “I tried to lose 182 pounds to match his weight, until doctors intervened.”
We've seen companies test the waters with product placement and event sponsorship, but a giant rick-roll feels both in touch with the current era and effortlessly cheap to execute.
I think you can predict Hollywood studios to go with more of these attempts in the future. After all, this thing going viral only solidifies their release getting free press in the headlines.