Disney/Pixar’s Coco is now in US theaters, poised to top the Thanksgiving weekend box office as Moana did last year. Together with Disney’s brand partners, marketing for the film focuses on Mexican culture and tradition, a love of music and the importance of family.
Disney stories tend to center around finding one’s place in the world, and Coco is no exception. The film’s main character is a young boy named Miguel who dreams of becoming a famous musician like Ernesto de la Cruz, a deceased Mexican musician and film star. Unfortunately for him, his family has banned all music, so Miguel and his dog Dante travel across the Land of the Dead to find his idol while uncovering the truth about his family’s aversion to music.
Music is at the heart of the film’s story and Miguel’s motivations, so Disney/Pixar teamed up with Cordoba to create custom acoustic guitars inspired by Coco. The guitars are available at Guitar Center and several were given away as a surprise to fans on social media.
“Remember Me,” the film’s theme song, was prominently featured on Dancing With the Stars in October.
The Land of the Dead is as much of a character in Coco as Miguel, if not more so. So, it’s fitting that this colorful world of the afterlife would become the subject of Pixar’s first-ever VR experience.
Coco VR allows up to three people to explore and interact with The Land of the Dead using Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift headsets. The free 20-minute branded adventure has users create their own calaca avatars—skeletons decorated in the traditional Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) style. A photo studio inside the experience lets users take selfies, an art studio displays concept art with behind-the-scenes footage and users can ride a gondola above the city or hang out in a central plaza.
“Going to the theater is a semi-social experience—you watch a film together, but it’s passive,” explains Oculus executive producer Yelena Rachitsky in a company blog post. “In VR, you can actually go on an adventure with a friend. These experiences can create lasting memories, just like going on a trip together.”
Demos of Coco VR were provided at select Dia de Los Muertos festivities, and at participating Disney Stores and movie theaters through November 19. Disney/Pixar even participated in the festivities with a Dia de Los Muertos parade float.
Dia de los Muertos is a yearly Mexican celebration that honors family members who have passed away. Family—both alive and those living as skeletons in the Land of the Dead—play an important role in Coco.
Since Miguel is discovering his heritage, Ancestry teamed up with Disney/Pixar to help two of the Coco filmmakers do the same. The historical records site is offering special discounts in honor of the film’s release through November 23.
— Disney•Pixar's Coco (@pixarcoco) November 16, 2017
Latino-American network Mitú further explored family members and tradition by paying an unexpected visit to a host’s abuelita (little grandmother). The video earned over 2.5 million views over a span of a week.
Meanwhile, Airbnb is promoting Coco by suggesting family-friendly trips and experiences in Mexico.
Coco is already the largest single film release in Mexico, thanks to its native themes and a well-timed premiere with Dia de Los Muertos. In the US, the Hispanic population has reached a record 58.6 million in 2017, according to the Census Bureau’s latest estimates. Appealing to the second-largest racial/ethnic group in the US, along with select Spanish dubbed and subtitled engagements, should bode well for Disney/Pixar’s new animated tale.
Coco is expected to bring in between $55 million and $60 million over its first box office weekend in US theaters and will likely overtake Justice League for the number one position.