The Last Witch Hunter

The Last Witch Hunter 360

The Ask

A cursory glance at AvatarLabs and Lionsgate’s The Last Witch Hunter (TLWH) digital marketing program suggests the familiar, but this endeavor was everything but ordinary. Content strategy needed to account for an atypically long six-month promotional window. Creative needed to be distinctive, yet harmonize with initiatives developed by other agencies. Most importantly, the studio sought a team capable of crafting original storytelling that enhanced the Hunter’s world. Such opportunities are exceedingly rare in features marketing, especially with new IP.

The Approach

Avatar devised a “phases within phases” approach to sustain engagement for nearly six months through the premiere in October. The most ambitious and in-depth was, a richly imagined examination of the most secretive warrior order in Western civilization. Substantial time was devoted to research and discussion of the script and asset library to understand the Axe + Cross. Once the members formed a hidden medieval army chartered to protect humanity from the witch threat. Today they protect Kaulder, the order’s last and greatest soldier. How to convince fans to embrace this original conceit? How might the Axe + Cross portray itself in the digital space? And how to best capture time-hopping star Vin Diesel’s ancient and modern incarnations?

The team dispensed with strict linearity and formulaic representations common to the fantasy genre—our viewers would not be navigating a dusty tome by flickering candlelight. Instead, we merged the film’s gothic tone with a modern interface. Each content item floated over a subtly animated background drawn from the film. And each item represented one piece of a grander, chaptered narrative, while remaining impactful as a standalone sharable.

The first chapter was dubbed The Weapon—Kaulder’s informal title—and explored the action and drama that motivate the film’s protagonist. The Weapon was a hit with fans and Lionsgate alike, and helped establish the visual and narrative language for The Origin, The Elements and The Witches chapters to come. Visuals married occult and elemental symbology with a lean, forceful aesthetic. Storytelling balanced complex narrative with sharable, one-shot headlines. Every chapter delivered a mix of animated GIFs, templated character cards, photographic pieces and original, in-house illustration.

AvatarLabs’ motion team contributed full-screen video intros and transitions that refreshed with each chapter launch. A haunting smoke transition—the oozing tendrils signify a witch’s presence—was painstakingly executed in HTML5 for universal browser compatibility. Original narrative enhanced the backstory of the Axe + Cross and merged real-world history with the film’s fictional human-witch war. This yielded special content like an illustrated cocktail recipe in the form of a witch’s elixir, a document of Kaulder’s battle with the warlock Rasputin (he killed him twice!) and new backstory for Grosette, the Axe + Cross founder who emerged alive from an ancient witch-created chasm.

As the release date neared, the banner phase introduced even more viewers to Kaulder’s world, first by directing them to the Axe + Cross site, then by driving ticketing. Rich media placements appeared on Uproxx, Fandango, and Playboy among others, capped by a dramatic, edge-to-edge seamless page takeover that so impressed the team at Wikia that they modified their homepage to accommodate it. Responsive layouts were developed to ensure uniform presentation across online, tablet and mobile. Liberal use of motion effects, rotoscoping, and even Easter eggs ensured the banners were as vital as the website to which they led.


From the official Last Witch Hunter hub to a viral Axe + Cross experience, from 48 pieces of richly imagined companion narrative and the vivid online ads that heralded them, AvatarLabs helped cultivate an enthusiastic fanbase for Lionsgate’s all-new action fantasy. Most original visual and narrative content—a story that took four months to tell and longer to conceive—was embraced by the filmmakers and approved with virtually no edits. The visual language created for the was adopted by the studio for in-house Last Witch Hunter promotions.


Shorty Award Finalist: Best in Entertainment