An emblematic character created at the end of the 80s and the subject of thirty comic books (with drawings by Roger Leiner and scenarios by Lucien Czuga), Superjhemp has been a huge success over the past few months. The “De Superjhemp Retörns” movie has been seen by almost 60,000 people, making it the most successful movie in the history of Luxembourg cinema.
This triumph is the culmination of six years of effort, starting from the first steps taken in 2012 by Claude Waringo, Samsa Film’s managing director. “Long ago I had the idea of adapting the character to the cinema, but I was missing the director,” he says. “And then at the Lux Film Festival, I saw Felix Koch’s short film, Ravioli Ritter, and I liked his style. I met him and then discovered he was a huge fan of Superjhemp. During his childhood, he had even been introduced to comics long before he started to watch TV.”
Rather than adapting one of the existing albums, the idea was very early on to keep only the main outlines and main characters and to adapt the rest to create a new story in which the time factor was important. “For me, the main character could only be played by André Jung. The first time I thought about it, he was 50 years old. When we started this project concretely, he was 10 years older! This led us to the idea of ’return’ of the character after a long absence.”
22 partners in two months
The movie also owes its success to the entire universe that accompanies the character in his adventures: the reality of everyday Luxembourg (sorry… Luxusbuerg), simply diverted with a healthy dose of puns and misappropriation of logos and well-known national brands.
This was the work of Myriam Schmit (founder of msdesign by myriamschmit), who was entrusted with the management of communication and partnerships.
“I myself grew up with these comics that my entire generation read,” she says. “When an album came out, you had to bring it to school the next day to share it. This gave me arguments to convince companies to join the project.”
The idea was simple: to reproduce on the screen the “diversions” already existing in the comic books: Juxair, RTHELL, Kaktus, Juxlait, Dram, Librairie Fernster, Voyages Émile Wibbel… in total, no less than 22 brands gave their agreement to play the game. “This was not the case for all the historical brands mentioned in the BD… and in addition, some of them no longer existed. There was not an excessive communication budget for this movie but we had arguments to make in terms of return on investment.”
The very first partner, Luxlait, was approached between Christmas and the New Year 2016. This was quite normal, as the super powers of Superjhemp come from the tasting of Kachkéis… “The brand immediately saw the interest of being part of the project,” rejoices Myriam Schmit who concluded all the partnerships in the space of only two months , the shooting having started at the end of February. “Each time, we analysed together with the director when and how to let the viewers get a glimpse of all these brands in the film. The idea was to make something which was not too over the top. ”
Finally, all the partnerships resulted in a much bigger take at the box office than expected “between 10 and 15 times higher than what usually happens for a movie,” summarises Claude Waringo. And the phenomenon has extended well beyond the film. Each of the “accomplice” brands have themselves relayed the image of Superjhemp and produced many dedicated spin offs.
The sharing of information, particularly via social media, was another key to the film’s success. A mission entrusted to 101 Studios, following a meeting initiated as part of an event organised by the Luxembourg Creative Industries Cluster. “It was at the Rockhal and I had never met Myriam Schmit before,” recalls Christine Zimmer, head of marketing and communication at 101 Studios. “We stayed in touch and that’s how our agency was asked to manage the social media campaign for the movie. This was especially important to us as we are a 100% Luxembourgish agency and we grew up with Superjhemp too. And being part of the adventure was really special.”
The strategy implemented was particularly rich in content. The first teasings were posted in mid-July, more than three months before the release of the film. Little by little, with small content made available by Samsa, unveiling the different partners, the fantasy world of this cult comic took shape.
Social networks in turmoil
“We started with two to three publications a week, and then practically one a day the first few weeks after the release of the film.” There was a lot of interaction with followers, and “opinions and comments were always positive. People took pictures of themselves when going to see the film and then shared them on their own stories and networks. There was a big self-dissemination phenomenon that promoted the film even more.”
The highlight was the day of the first broadcast of the official trailer, with some 90,300 views and more than 16,000 interactions (likes, reactions, shares, etc.). “People had been waiting for this for a very long time. This has generated statistics that are extremely good compared to other communication campaigns. I even had several comments from people totally outside the project who told me that it was impossible to miss the promotion campaign. This is also a sign of success.”
In the coming weeks, the film will be available in VOD. Meanwhile, by the end of 2019, it will be released on DVD with lots of bonuses and surprises. And why not another movie later? “This is worth thinking about, but if it were to be done, it would not be for now. The process is extremely long and complex,” advises Claude Waringo.