Ben is Back – Marketing Recap

ben is back posterBen Is Back, the new movie from writer/director Peter Hedges, is the latest of this year’s releases to tackle in some manner the drug and opioid epidemics that have been sweeping through the U.S. in the recent past. Lucas Hedges – Peter’s son – plays Ben, a young man who has left his home and family because he was caught up in trouble because of drugs.

One day just before Christmas he returns home, much to the bewilderment of everyone in the family. His mother Holly (Julia Roberts) on the other hand is thrilled, happy to have her son back and confident she can help him. It soon becomes clear, though, that he’s still in trouble and that his return may have put everyone else in harm’s way.

The Posters

Ben is embracing his mom on the first poster, positioning this as a mother/son drama, though there’s not much information about the story or characters beyond that.

The Trailers

The teaser trailer certainly lives up to the movie’s name. We see Ben approach the vacant house from the back (odd…) before walking out into the driveway as the rest of the family arrives. Holly is thrilled and immediately rushes out to greet him. And that’s all there is. There’s obviously some history and reason behind why everyone is so surprised to see him, but it’s not explained here.

The first full trailer picks up at about the same moment the teaser leaves off, with Holly happy Ben is home and making excuses for his behavior. His presence is putting his family at risk, though, as people from his past resurface, some of whom turn to violent means to get the money he still owes them. She’s unwilling to give up on him even as he falls back into some of his old habits but it ends on an upbeat note, promising the audience a happy ending to all the drama.

Online and Social

You can get tickets on the front page of the movie’s official website. Other than that the site just has the two trailers, a story synopsis and a cast and crew list. There are also links to the official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Media and Publicity

The movie was added to the lineup of the Austin Film Festival.

This was one of a handful of projects involving Hedges tackling intense and difficult issues, something the actor talked about in this interview. Roberts also spoke frequently on what is was about this movie that drew her back in front of the camera.

There were Q&As with the cast and director when the movie screened at the Toronto International Film Festival a couple months ago.

A major feature just recently had both the younger and elder Hedges talking about working together, something Lucas wasn’t keen to do but which he was convinced to do in part because of how his father was moved to tell a very personal story. That was also the focus of another joint interview with the two.

The writer/director was also interviewed about his career to date and what he wanted to accomplish with this movie.


For as much as Roberts was placed in the spotlight, it’s the two Hedges that really form the core of the campaign, providing a strong reason to see the movie. With Peter, the audience is promised an emotional story that has personal overtones while Lucas is one of the most buzzed-about actors of the last few years, with a number of recent movies that have touched on some of the most gripping issues in society today.

It’s that last point that really hits home, forming the central message of the campaign. Like Beautiful Boy and a couple others, this is a movie that wants to capture a moment when parents and children are being torn apart by drugs, with serious ramifications for everyone.

Picking Up The Spare

Another story on how Hedges had to be convinced to take the role in his father’s movie, this time with Roberts being the one making the case. Roberts was also interviewed again about the changes she’s made to her career along the way.

Both Roberts and Hedges have made some late night TV appearances to talk about the movie. The two were interviewed jointly about the mother/son dynamic of the movie and the story of addiction they’re telling.

Author: Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.

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