everybody knows posterSecrets emerging from the past to intrude on the present form the primary problem in the new movie Everybody Knows. Laura (Penelope Cruz) has brought her daughters with her as she returns to her hometown outside Madrid for the wedding of her sister.

That joyous occasion is marred when Laura’s oldest daughter is abducted in the middle of the celebration. She sets out to find her with the help of Paco (Javier Bardem) and others, but it leads to revelations being uncovered about the past of Laura’s family that cast new light on everything that’s happened.

The Posters

There were a number of Spanish-language posters for the film’s overseas release but the one U.S. theatrical one-sheet hints at the drama of the story by showing Bardem looming over Cruz’s shoulder, his face obscured by her unkempt, blowing hair. Her face is concerned while he looks slightly shady but there’s no copy here to explain the story or offer more detail. The film’s film festival credentials are offered at the bottom to lend it some authority.

The Trailers

The first trailer, released last April before the movie debuted at Cannes, presents a dramatic thriller. Carolina has returned to her hometown for a wedding and brought her family with her. She reconnects with everyone, including Paco, an old friend. When her daughter goes missing it kicks off a series of events that lead to secrets – including the past love affair between Paco and Laura – to be revealed all over the place as everyone comes under suspicion.

The domestic theatrical trailer strikes a very different tone. Narration by Paco at the beginning explains that sometimes the past doesn’t stay in the past as we see Laura and the girls arrive for the wedding. After her daughter is taken it turns into just selling a more or less straight drama about the search to find her, jettisoning much of the emotional narrative that was found in the first spot.

If you were going on this alone you might suspect that Laura and Paco were the primary couple, not that each is married to someone else even though they used to be lovers years ago. That secret is just one of the revelations in the first trailer that hint at lots more secrets hiding under the surface, a storyline that’s missing completely here.

Online and Social

The website doesn’t offer much in the way of additional information. The domestic trailer plays when the site opens and the front page has links to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles. Scroll down and you can read an “About” section and then find bios for the cast and crew when you click on the photos arranged on the page.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen on this front.

Media and Publicity

One of the first major stories about the movie came when it was revealed it has landed the coveted opening night slot at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It was quickly bought by Focus Features after that screening, which resulted in a good amount of very positive buzz. While there Bardem and Cruz, a couple in real life, talked about working together, receiving equal paydays for the movie and more.

Overall

Most striking about the campaign is the difference between how the movie was sold last year for overseas audiences and how it was sold this year for U.S. moviegoers. The way entire plotlines and character connections are discarded in favor of selling it as a straightforward drama about a missing child is really something, an example of the message being dumbed down significantly for the domestic market.

That may have been done simply to avoid presenting it too clearly as a Spanish-language film. Notice in the U.S. release trailer that 1) Bardem’s narration at the opening is in English and that 2) There’s no dialogue from the film in the spot at all, with the story conveyed through the use of title cards. That makes sense from a certain point of view, but it also means that people here aren’t getting the full heft of the story, which could be a problem.

Picking Up the Spare

Focus Features finally released a bunch of TV spots that sell the movie in various slightly different ways.

Bardem finally made some media appearances, including an interview where he spoke about working with Cruz and an appearance on “Kimmel.”

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