LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Last weekend, like a lot of other moviegoers, Steve Martin’s Inspector Clouseau lined up to buy a ticket to “WALL-E.” He struggled several times to pronounce “I would like a ticket for ‘WALL-E”‘ only to learn that the show was sold out. Undaunted, the intrepid inspector snuck into the theater, where he inadvertently sliced his way through the movie screen before tiptoeing offstage.
Actually, Martin’s filmed appearance in front of screenings of Disney’s hit cartoon was part of an unusual customized teaser trailer for “Pink Panther 2,” the MGM/Columbia production that Sony is releasing February 6. In a variation of the same trailer that appeared last month, Clouseau similarly mangled the pronunciation of DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda.”
When it began planning the campaign, Sony knew it wanted to do a special shoot rather than just cull footage from the upcoming film. For 2006’s “Pink Panther,” Martin had done a special public service announcement urging theatergoers to turn off their cell phones.
The revived “Panther” has turned into a family-friendly franchise; thanks in part to a PG-rating, the last film grossed $82 million domestically.
“So we wanted to get up early in the summer with strong kids titles because we wanted to position this one even more strongly as a family film than the last one,” said Valerie Van Galder, co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing at Sony.
“And we thought if kids saw him saying ‘Kung Fu Panda’ or ‘WALL-E,’ it would make it even more real for them and stick in their heads,” she added.
Although “Panther” had completed filming, “Steve was excited about the idea,” Van Galder said. He and producer Robert Simonds immediately starting rewriting the storyboards. Harald Zwart, the film’s director, helmed the shoot a little more than a week before “Panda’s” opening.
Sony also gave a heads-up to DreamWorks Animation and Disney, which both gave their blessing.