I look for two things on TV during the month of June: the NBA playoffs and whatever blockbuster is going to steal $12 dollars from me at some point during the coming months.

This year I’ve noticed that Hollywood has gotten even lazier to shell out its big time movie season. It’s been tying many of the big name releases directly to the basketball games I’m watching. They’ve been using game footage, NBA stars, and cheesy comparisons to try and convince me that their movie is just like my favorite sport.

Does this direct mail-ish marketing really make sense?

I present to you the Blockbuster-Basketball Promotional Tie In Power Rankings. Which of these movies really relate to basketball and which are obviously just subliminal messaging?

(My apologies in advance for linking instead of embedding. I couldn’t figure out how to embed from the site I got most of of the previews from.)

7. Prometheus:

Tie in Premise: Stephen A. Smith yelling about how SportsCenter fans can relate to Prometheus. “Opposing sides! Enemy Territory! Intense Action! Now That’s Something SportsCenter fans can relate to!” 

Analysis: I’m not sure which is more ridiculous: Stephen A. Smith hawking the Alien Series or somehow implying  that Coors Light and exploring alien planets have anything in common. I know this preview is not specifically using basketball, but this commericial has been airing almost the entire playoffs. I’m not sure what Ridley Scott’s PR crew was going for here. The Alien series is a classic franchise. I guess they know that all the movie buffs are going to go see it anyway and They need to reach to the cheap-beer drinking-sports center watching bro crowd to get more viewers.

Verdict: Dumb. I probably would see Prometheus if I had seen any of the Alien movies. But this preview campaign makes me think I’ll be listening to Stephen A. for three hours. Not appealing.

6. The Amazing Spiderman:

Premise: NBA playoffs highlights overlapped with Spiderman swinging between buildings. “Amazing is overcoming challenges, refusing to quite, and doing things you never thought possible.

Analysis: Spiderman’s webslinging antics mesh well with high flying NBA highlights. However, I think the narrator was just reading off of some cards from the Hallmark “Graduation” section.

Verdict: Meh. The “basketball amazing” = “superhero amazing” is unimaginative. Methinks they are resorting to subliminal messaging.

5. Brave

Premise: Scenes from the new Pixar movie described in basketball terms. “The slam dunk. The free throw. The three pointer.”

Analysis: I give Pixar a lot of credit. They are doing a lot of promoting during events that are usually viewed by males. (This one that aired during the NFL Draft was pretty funny.) This one is along the lines of ‘association for associations’ sake. (I googled Scottish basketball. Not much going on there.)

Verdict: Good try. I am biased towards Pixar. I love all their movies. However, I won”t go see a movie of theirs just because it aired during the commericials of a basketball game. Even though I fall in the demographic they are trying to target (20 something single males). Is Pixar worried that their movie will only be seen by tweener girls?


Tie-In Premise: Agent J (Will Smith) is receiving a brief that let’s us know that alien life forms have infiltrated professional basketball. They have super human abilities and have one goal in mind, to win the championship

Analysis: Basketball players as aliens? We already think they’re crazy enough. However, the editing they used here is pretty cool. However, I think Serge Ibaka should have more arms than Kobe.

Verdict: Fun. Will Smith is a noted 76ers fan. Might as well have him help promote the playoffs.

3. The Avengers:

Premise: Sam Jackson/Nick Fury talking about heroes working together. “On May 4th, meet your new favorite team.”


Analysis: The Avengers ‘coming together’ to form a team mantra works well with these NBA playoffs due to the number of “Big Threes” that were involved.  Sam Jackson could be talking about either Comic Book Superheros or NBA “Superheroes” when he mentions “knowing them by their uniforms” and having “the heart of a champion.

Verdict: Well done. The hero to “hero” premise works here.

2. Battleship

Premise: James Harden and Kevin Durant face off while Liam Neeson narrates.

Analysis: I love anything with Liam Neeson narration. I don’t believe this commercial aired in national markets. However, this would work much better with LeBron and some sort of phantom basketball player that represents his inner demons. James Harden hasn’t been preparing for this his whole life. He’s 22 for pete’s sake.

Verdict: Just have Liam Neeson narrate every commercial for the Finals. Thanks.

1.The Dark Knight:

Premise: Dramatic music is played over scenes featuring Batman, Catwoman, and Bane. “Enemies collide. Heroes emerge. A fire will rise.”


Analysis: This preview gave me chills. This spot focuses on the drama of the playoffs, rather than the action. And this season has not disappointed.  Full disclosure, I’ve been waiting for both this seasons’ playoffs and The Dark Knight Rises for about six months now. However, this spot probably would not have worked as well if we had something like a Memphis-Indiana series.

Verdict: I’ve watched every Finals game and may see TDKR multiple times on opening weekend.


Tune in this December when we analyze the Great Gatsby airing during Monday Night Football.


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