Gina Rodriguez plays Gloria in the new movie Miss Bala, opening this week. Gloria is an unassuming young woman visiting Tijuana with a friend. When a gang of violent criminals shoots up the club the two are at Gloria is taken hostage, seen as valuable because she’s an American.
That gang enlists her in their operations, promising to help her find her friend and let her go safely, but her actions under duress catch the eye of U.S. law enforcement, who want her to inform on the gang. She’s pulled in every direction and played by all sides, leading her to discover she’s stronger and more capable of doing what’s needed to survive than she had suspected.
The audience is asked “Who would you become to save your family.” on the poster, which shows Gloria looking defiantly out at the camera while wearing a gown and sporting a gun. So she’s clearly going to exact a pound of flesh from someone.
Gloria is on a trip to Mexico to visit friends as the trailer opens. That quickly goes south as she’s kidnapped by a criminal gang who tells her the only way to survive is to help them in their terrorist operations. Eventually she’s taken into custody by American law enforcement and forced to act as an informant to take the gang down, something she takes to surprisingly well. As the trailer ends it’s unclear where Gloria’s true allegiances lie.
What starts out as a story of victimhood quickly becomes one of a woman claiming the power that’s all around her as her own. And that last shot of Rodriguez in an evening gown sporting a high caliber rifle may be a bit cliched, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
Online and Social
Not much beyond the usual content on the movie’s official website, along with links to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles. The one unique section is “Dress From the Heart,” which asks aspiring designers to create their perfect red dress for the opportunity to have it made by an actual designer. The winner of that contest was announced a couple weeks ago.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
A Promoted Tweet from mid-November was the first widespread paid element, using a 30-second video that distilled the message of the trailer. Further promoted Tweets were running in early January.
Other online ads used short video snippets embedded into banner units that also included elements pulled from the key art.
A first look clip was aired during a recent episode of Freeform TV’s “Good Trouble.”
Media and Publicity
A clip released just a couple weeks ago focused on a pivotal scene where Gloria is given a choice by the criminals she’s held by.
Rodriguez showed up on various late night and early morning talk shows to promote the film and talk about the story and her character. She also appeared, along with director Catherine Hardwicke and others, at a special screening hosted by the Austin Film Society that included a Q&A session.
In various profiles, Rodriguez talked about how the film fits into her other roles and choices, the story of a woman taking her fate into her own hands, how this is one of a few high-profile projects she has right now, her relentless energy and the inclusive nature of the movie’s cast and crew. The movie also came up while she was doing publicity for those other projects.
A featurette allowed Rodriguez to talk about her transformation from her “Jane the Virgin” character into an action hero.
Rodriguez uses all her star power to sell the movie, positioned here as a story of female empowerment and actualization, of finding who you are only after you’ve gone through the crucible. That’s a good angle and she is potentially bringing her sizable fan base to the movie.
There are more than a few action movie cliches on display in the campaign, but that can be forgiven largely because we don’t often get to see women in this kind of role or story. In whole this is a solid campaign but the movie’s fate may be decided not only by its status as a non-franchise release but also by the chilling weather gripping much of the country.
Picking Up the Spare
Rodriguez continued to talk about the movie and her hope it results in even more stories starring Latino talent.
Hardwicke rightly points out that movies directed by women start off in a hole that needs to be overcome before they can even be created or sold to audiences. The topic of women owning their agency was also covered in this interview with her.