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Wendell & Wild/Netflix

‘Why would you not be promoting this?’: ‘Wendell & Wild’ fans are accusing Netflix of failing to advertise Henry Selick’s new movie

Co-written by Jordan Peele, it’s Henry Selick’s first film since ‘Coraline’ in 2009.

 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Known for directing The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, Henry Selick is an icon of spooky animated cinema. Just in time for Halloween, his first movie in 13 years just came out on Netflix—but fans are worried that it’s not getting its due.

Co-written by Jordan Peele, Wendell & Wild is being hailed as a return to form for Selick; a chaotic horror-comedy adventure with a teen goth lead, featuring a voice cast including Key and Peele (voicing the two title characters), Angela Bassett, and Ving Rhames. The reviews are good, and Selick has a very recognizable artistic brand with plenty of nostalgia value. However, Wendell & Wild just isn’t as high-profile as you might expect, raising concerns that Netflix has failed to promote the movie enough.

When a film like Wendell & Wild is released theatrically through a traditional studio, we expect to see an extensive advertising campaign and promotional tour. With Netflix though, new releases often seem to arrive without warning and then vanish within a week, failing to find their audience. From the outside, it’s hard to understand why certain titles just sink without a trace.

There’s also a widespread belief that this is particularly true for projects by nonwhite or otherwise marginalized creative teams—and, indeed, for animation. Unlike Henry Selick’s previous films, Wendell & Wild stars a majority-Black cast, leading some fans to wonder if this played into its seemingly low-profile release.

https://twitter.com/SenorWoberto/status/1586406145136406530

Promotional campaigns are admittedly quite subjective. A project might be advertised on talk shows you don’t watch, or on billboards you don’t see. Different Netflix users see different movies on their home screen. The truth is that Netflix definitely is promoting Wendell & Wild, because a quick google search will bring up dozens of reviews and interviews. However, it’s undeniable that Netflix promotes some projects more than others.

Flagship titles like Stranger Things receive a massive media blitz, and Netflix pushes expensive blockbusters like The Gray Man onto its front page, encouraging brand recognition among subscribers. Meanwhile, viewers are often confused and frustrated by the lack of attention paid to second-tier titles, tying into the theory that Netflix rarely prioritizes projects with diverse leads. (For instance, Netflix faced backlash earlier this year for canceling First Kill, a teen show about an interracial lesbian couple.)

With Henry Selick and Jordan Peele at the helm, Wendell & Wild feels like it ought to be a massive hit. The fact that fans felt the need to promote it on Netflix’s behalf is an awkward look—although sadly not an unusual one.

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