The revenge movie genre took a beating earlier this year with the Eli Roth-helmed Death Wish. It received poor reviews, didn’t do well with audiences, and was fronted by a marketing campaign that sold it as a tone deaf “white man is angry so that justifies him killing a bunch of people” fantasy.
STX Films is hoping this week’s Peppermint is less The Happytime Murders and more Bad Moms when it comes to scoring at the box office. The studio has had a rough year, with none of its releases topping $50 million in domestic revenue, it could use a breakout hit.
The movie stars Jennifer Garner as a woman who disappears for years following the assassination of her daughter and husband. When she returns she has the skills and weapons necessary to take justice into her own hands, seeking those responsible for the killings. Law enforcement isn’t thrilled with her actions while the general public sees her doing what others can’t.
Garner stands against a wall featuring wings made from red bullets on the poster, positioning her clearly as the violent, avenging angel of death. With its muted tones and rough appearance, the message is being sent she will be operating on the streets, taking her fight to the cirminals. All that is reinforced with the copy “The system failed. She won’t.”
Just like with literally every other movie about a parent seeking revenge after the death of their family, the trailer starts with shots of the whole family enjoying happy, wonderful times together. All that comes crashing down when a group of gunmen shoot up the carnival they’re at one night, gunmen that are apparently linked to a drug cartel, a representative of which tries to pressure Riley to unremember what she saw. After the justice system fails her, Riley disappears but then reemerges as a violent, highly-trained vigilante out to take down the system that failed her and protect other innocent people.
Advertising and Publicity
As release drew closer, promoted Tweets like this and others started appearing.
STX created a Facebook AR lens that added wings like those found on the movie’s poster to a short video. That lens was showcased at the film’s premiere the first weekend of September, with videos posted of it being applied to the cast as they walked the red carpet.
Online and Social
The official website doesn’t have a ton of information, but does sport the trailer, a story synopsis and information on the Facebook AR lens. There are also links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Media and Publicity
Before any real marketing or publicity had started for the movie it was part of STX’s CinemaCon presentation, which included an appearance by Garner.
The actress was interviewed by People about how she got into shape for all the action sequences in the movie.
Garner hasn’t been missing from the press for the last couple weeks, but almost every story she’s part of is either about her kids, her efforts to get Ben Affleck into rehab or something else about her personal life. I can’t find a single interview with her that’s about the movie, which says something about our sexist media lens.
That changed somewhat when she stopped by both “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night” in the last few days before release.
Garner and others involved in the filmmaking process were interviewed in an official featurette where they talked about the story, making the movie and more. There was also a clip released showing Garner in full revenge mode taking out bad guys and declaring in no uncertain terms that she wants justice for what was done to her.
The biggest hurdle the campaign seems to have to overcome – in addition to late summer audience antipathy – is that movies about female revenge stories are a tough sell. The most successful example recently is Mad Max: Fury Road, but smaller movies like In the Fade and others haven’t done much to spark buzz or other interest.
The campaign may not be one that’s going to surmount either one, but it does effectively tell the story of the movie, perhaps a bit too well.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
More here on how Jennifer Garner trained for her role in the action revenge flick.
Another interview with director Pierre Morel about how he came to be involved with the project and what it was like to work with Garner.
Apparently Garner tried to surprise fans at a screening but it didn’t go well.