The story was about two kids who rescue their parents-who happen to be spies. "Normally, kids movies are dopey and fun," says one marketing executive. "This one was sophisticated." It had to entertain kids while not boring parents.
Chief problem: "Spy Kids" had no brand identity. "We had to put this into the [American] consciousness," says Bob Weinstein, 47, co-chairman of Miramax Films, who directed marketing.
It got a big endorsement, as well as valuable PR time, from the TV syndicated daytime program, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," in which an entire hour was focused on the film.
Though Miramax, founded in 1979 by Mr. Weinstein and his brother Harvey, is wholly owned by Walt Disney Co., it never enjoyed the benefit of any big corporate tie-in sponsors. For this family movie, it pulled in the top-movie tie-in company, McDonald's Corp., as well as PepsiCo's Frito-Lay, Isuzu Corp., Coca-Cola Co.'s Hi-C, S.C. Johnson & Son, RadioShack and Payless ShoeSource. "Spy Kids" also benefited from several TV kids networks as media partners doing promotions and content deals. To date, the film has earned $106 million in U.S. box office receipts, with a sequel due next summer.