Here’s a short list of this week’s new home video releases and how they were sold during their theatrical campaigns.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos once again enlisted Colin Farrell in a movie that defied easy description and won the hearts of critics. Farrell plays Steven, a surgeon who tries to make up for a mistake by befriending Martin (Barry Keoghan) and bringing him into his family. Steven’s sins have not been forgotten, though, and the repercussions of his actions wind up being felt by everyone, including his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and children.
The movie’s theatrical campaign was mind-bending and confusing, seeming to actively turn off anyone who wasn’t already on board with Lanthimos’ vision and style. There was almost no story on display in the trailers and the interviews with director and cast were focused more on the filmmaking process than what the movie was about. It was a hard sell on any day and while the campaign was engaging and interesting, there was no easy entry point for anyone who wasn’t at a film festival.
Goodbye Christopher Robin
Domhnall Gleeson plays A.A. Milne and Margot Robbie his wife Daphne in this sentimental biopic about the author’s experiences leading up to the creation of his most famous work, Winnie The Pooh. That process is because of and aided by his son Christopher Robin, who wants his father to create something of pure imagination and joy and the success of the book turns them all into superstars of the time, if somewhat reluctantly.
The marketing of the film hit a few different notes. The posters and much of the trailers were softly-lit and covered in forest greenery, looking like the kind of muted-tone covers you’d see on the shelf of a small, independent corner bookstore. Other parts of the trailers, though, made it clear that Milne was traumatized by his experiences in World War I and couldn’t go back to a life he now felt was meaningless in the face of such horror. So Pooh’s genesis is rooted in violence as much as it is the purposeful search for something good in the world.
Thank You For Your Service
Miles Teller starred in this drama about one of a group of soldiers who comes back from service to find reintegrating into the “real world” is far more difficult than anyone told them it would be and something no one prepared them for.
Universal sold the movie in a way that’s similar to how other post-war movies have been sold and the campaign even explicitly invoked a few of them. That’s not surprising given it comes from a producer of Lone Survivor and the writer of American Sniper, who both wrote this and directed it. It never connected with audiences in the same way those films did, but it’s not for a lack of trying and it’s easy to see how this could become a movie people check out much more easily now that it’s available at home.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.