December 7, 2019 11:26 pm

“The Aeronauts” carnival a sign of things to come

The Aeronauts carnival
Credit: Amazon Prime Video

We’ve already seen Netflix lease the Paris Theatre in New York for it’s movie premieres and events. Not to be outdone, Amazon Prime Video is promoting its movie The Aeronauts with a roaming city-to-city carnival.

The movie tells the story of a pioneering balloonist and the record-breaking ride of September 5, 1862. It stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, and isn’t doing too well with some critics. The movie is coming to Amazon Prime Video December 20th, and you can check out the trailer below.

More than a carnival

The Aeronauts carnival is styled exactly like the one in the movie, and has visited San Francisco, Pasadena, and Phoenix. It’s heading to Atlanta, Orlando and Austin, Texas next. It’s a real event including jugglers, tightrope walkers, and a hot air balloon ride. One of the movie producers Todd Lieberman said the following:


The whole experience of it made the film feel like a massive event.

Todd Lieberman – Via Los Angeles Times

If we strip it all back, it is a gimmick to get attention like all marketing is. Whether it’s a digital ad or a touring carnival, it has the same purpose; it’s the scale that’s exciting. It’s a big, bold, and creative event for a not-so-distant streaming release and it showcases two things:

  1. Amazon Prime Video subscribers are being put first
  2. Digital ads may have hit saturation point

Subscribers first

Originally, the theatrical release for The Aeronaut had a three-month exclusivity window. However, Prime cut that much shorter, bringing the release forward so that there was only a difference of two weeks.

This leads back to a Q&A Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke gave. She admitted what the streaming service’s goal is.


It’s basically, how are you enhancing Prime membership, and how are you bringing new subscribers to Prime?

Jennifer Salke via Hollywood Reporter

So when Salke says, “we still want to be able to really support a theatrical release,” it’s actually dependent on how it impacts Prime memberships.

Considering the reaction to Netflix’s decision to cut The Irishman‘s theatrical release short, putting subscribers first could make theatrical windows a thing of the past — just like pay TV.

Digital ads hitting saturation point

Why make a carnival when you can blast digital ads? Efficiency is the only answer. If Amazon found it cheaper and more effective to spend on physical marketing like The Aeronauts carnival, then this promotion makes sense.


Consider the amount of money spent on digital advertising by Amazon, Netflix and others. At some point, there was going to be saturation and diminishing returns. Plus, consumers become immune to ads, even if they’re for movies and shows.

If we’re at a point where marketing has to diversify into gimmicks, the budgets of Amazon, Netflix, and others will make it interesting. The Aeronauts carnival will thus be the first of many to catch our attention.

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