Netflix is bringing a speakeasy to SXSW next week to promote its original film, The Highwaymen. Riding high on its Oscar wins, Netflix will be able to leverage filmmaker respect while taking part in the experiential marketing playland that is SXSW Austin.
The Highwaymen tells the story of two former Texas Rangers that are sent to hunt down the notorious Bonny and Clyde. Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson play the titular roles, under the direction of John Lee Hancock (The Blindside).
Dubbed “The Highwayman House,” Netflix’s pop-up activation will take over Banger’s Basement and simulate a 1930s speakeasy. To get visitors in the mood for the Bonny and Clyde caper, attendees will be greeted by actors in character and given a name. In addition to their new identities, attendees will receive an RFID bracelet to unlock experiences around the location.
Musical acts will play at the speakeasy each night, adding to the 1930s period vibe.
Interactive elements will include photo ops with a “Wanted” poster, gambling tables and playing games. Those that interact will earn points that can be redeemed for “premium custom swag” including hats, watches, flasks, patches, pins, bandanas and denim jackets.
Netflix has also partnered with Bunkhouse Hospitality to give additional speakeasy treatment to guests of Hotel Saint Cecilia and Hotel San Jose. These guests will have the opportunity to drink custom cocktails inspired by The Highwaymen and catch a ride to the activation inside a vintage car. Platinum and Film Badge holders will be able to watch the world premiere screening on March 10.
SXSW has become a haven for experiential activations and Netflix has taken a cue from HBO’s buzzworthy Westworld activation last year. HBO wowed attendees with a two-acre Western town complete with recreations of the show’s Coronado Hotel and Mariposa Saloon, filled with Season Two easter eggs and over 60 actors and stuntpeople to engage attendees.
Netflix took home three Academy Awards for its original film Roma this past weekend, winning best director, best cinematography and best foreign-language film. Director Alphonso Cuaron also made history as the first person to win an Oscar for best cinematography on the same film they directed.
During the ceremony, Martin Scorsese announced that his latest project, The Irishman, will be a Netflix original movie—adding additional clout to the streaming platform as a viable outlet for filmmakers.
Last year, Netflix hosted a filmmakers lounge at SXSW in a bid for creative attention and shared five world premieres during the event—feature films First Match, 6 Balloons and The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, as well as the documentary feature, Take Your Pills and documentary series Rapture.