We knew this was going to happen.
By Oscar Sunday, if not before, Greta Gerwig’s feature revival of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women will cross $100M at the domestic box office, a huge 33% surge in its domestic tally since notching six Oscar noms on Jan. 13 including Best Picture.
While Gerwig already demonstrated her flair for sophisticated fare coming off the five-time Oscar nominated Lady Bird three years ago, Little Women just shows the commercial success the filmmaker can spur by giving classics a modern day spin. That was the absolute sell in this nth remake of the late 19th Century period tale about Jo March and her sisters who plot for a better life outside their snowy Massachusetts home. More upside: a box office hit like this for Gerwig, further makes her a brand name among female moviegoers. While she was overlooked in the directing category at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars, she scored an original screenplay nom at the latter.
In a Christmas season largely owned by guy-leaning fare like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Jumanji: The Next Level, Sony wisely launched Little Women as the option for girls (76% under 12) and moms (83%) with a PG rating, also drawing 44% females over 25, and 27% under 25. I’ll never forget the pent-up demand for Little Women at its first Hollywood screening at the DGA Theater on Sunset Blvd. back in October with people fighting over seats and noted press being boxed out (which Sony later tended to graciously). That’s how much of a hot ticket the movie was, and continues to be. Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits were 4 1/2 stars for general audiences and 5 stars for parents. CinemaScore was a very respectable A-. As of today, Little Women‘s domestic B.O. stands at $99.1M.
In addition to the magazine covers, panel Q&As, radio interviews, late night and AM TV appearances by Gerwig and cast Saorise Ronan (Oscar best actress nominee), Florence Pugh (Oscar best supporting actress nominee), Timothee Chalamet, Laura Dern and Emma Watson, the cast participated in various custom segments with specialty outlets like Popsugar, Buzzfeed, Refinery29 and MTV which aimed at key demos. Note this hysterical one with Pugh chowing down on British food with Vogue (at 1.9M views):
Sony pushed the pic largely in the literature and educational space, specifically librarians in top markets, public schools, YMCAs and after-school programs. Among those top orgs participating were the Library of Congress, New York City Public Schools, Barnard College, the LA Public Library System, The National Council of Teachers of English, and Book Bub, a website for book lovers that reaches north of 5M readers.
Other literature-centric pushes included a partnership with Little Free Libraries to create Little Women-themed book-sharing boxes in ten U.S. cities. Little Women movie books were also donated and stocked at 50 Little Free Library locations. Visitors to these libraries were invited to take a book and share what Little Women means to them on social. Sony also worked with The Book Fairies, a global book-sharing project, to hide over 2K copies of the May Alcott novel in 38 countries. Every novel hidden contained a copy of a handwritten note from Watson hidden its pages. Watson hid books around London, which she documented on Instagram to her 54M+ followers.
Sony also worked with non-profit Boston history tourist org Boston by Foot to create a Little Women-centric scavenger hunt for groups local to the Northeast.
The Culver City, CA studio hosted over 30 word-of-mouth screenings in various markets with an emphasis on film groups, book clubs, sororities, and teenage females. The studio also targeted women who’ve empowered their local communities, advocating for those in need via a #LITTLEWOMENBIGSTORIES campaign. These women were honored before screenings in their markets, often with a donation to a charity of their choosing. There was also a “Senators and Wives” tastemaker/influencer screening in Washington DC that drew top legislators and their families.
Little Women spots aired on widely viewed TV programs throughout 4Q including The Little Mermaid Live!, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Voice Finale, The Masked Singer Finale, Democratic Debate and Survivor Finale. Sony also worked with Bravo to create custom vignettes with Top Chef‘s Gail Simmons where she sat down to talk about the film with the cast.
There was also a big reach to the LGBTQ+ community with Sony teaming with prominent female influencers to host dedicated screenings in New York and Los Angeles including LGBTQ advocate Allison Graham (NY) and historian and author Blair Imani (LA), who connected to themes of female empowerment and individuality. Partners also included LGBTQ film festivals Outfest (LA) and NewFest (NY). There was a nightlife part of the marketing at LGBTQ venues. In five markets, drag queens were hired to host events, dress in a style inspired by Little Women and perform a “sisters” themed number.
Also, let’s not forget one of the most powerful pieces of film marketing: Harry Potter alum Emma Watson who counts over 117M social media followers across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, who shared original behind-the-scenes photos, trailers and more. Overall, social media universe for the pic prior to opening was 168.3M according to social media analyst Relishmix, well ahead of the average drama’s 109.2M followers before opening weekend.
RelishMix commenting on Sony’s handling of Little Women, “This film has its target audience, and the campaign has done a fine job of reaching them on a lot of different points, all of which are sellable.”