The logline for The Beach Bum is simple and to the point: “A rebellious stoner named Moondog lives life by his own rules.” The rest of the marketing of the latest movie from writer/director Harmony Korine shows it really is that basic but also a bit more complex than what you might think based on that.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Moondog, a stoned layabout who just wants to enjoy his life, man, and not follow the rules laid out by anyone else. He’s surrounded by a group of friends and others who have similar goals, seeking little other than drugs, booze, sunshine and freedom. Isla Fisher, Zac Efron and Snoop Dogg costar.
The first poster is a psychedelic trip, with the faces of all the characters arranged in order of billing, with Moondog shown at the bottom below the collage, splayed out on the beach. Swirling lights and bright colors hint at drug-fueled story filled with exotic characters and bold personalities, a theme that’s reinforced through the copy “You gotta go low to get high.” The design is similar to what can be found on the posters for super hero films like The Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok and others, all of which place a main character at the center of an assemblage of other, minor characters. So the audience is certainly getting the message that Moondog is the focus of the story, kind of a hero in his own way for those around him.
The first teaser trailer sells the movie as something like The Big Lebowski meets Spring Breakers, showing the kind of crazy antics Moondog gets into on a regular basis, all while maintaining a steady high and having a lot of fun. Another teaser hits largely the same tone.
The next trailer, a red-band version released in January, is all over the place but completely, insanely enjoyable. Moondog is someone who drifts from one epic situation to the next free of concerns but always with a steady high going. When he gets in trouble with the law he decides it’s time to publish the novel he’s been working on for a long while, but that’s just incidental to the hijinks he’s shown as getting into on the regular.
Online and Social
NEON’s website for the movie contains the usual mix of trailers, a synopsis and links to buy tickets. “Social Assets” actually takes you to a Box folder where you can find GIFs, photos and other information, but it’s not presented in a very user-friendly way like it is on other sites. There are also links to the movie’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve been made aware of, but it’s entirely possible there have been paid social posts and online ads that haven’t come across my radar. I would expect there would be something, especially given Korine has a number of fans based on his previous film Spring Breakers.
Media and Publicity
Indiewire hosted the first look still from the film. Much later it was announced the movie would screen at SXSW, an appearance that included a red carpet and other promotional events, including scratch-and-sniff cards that smelled like weed being handed out to people there. A photo shoot featuring McConaughey showed the actor in all his hippie slacker glory along with an interview where he talked about working with Korine and more.
Moviefone hosted an exclusive clip showing Moondog talking with a sketchy dolphin-seeing tour captain, illustrating the kind of people he hangs out with but also his non judgemental nature.
Korine was interviewed about the movie and his general creative sensibilities, including mention of the “Young Twitchy” art show featuring his work that happened in New York City. There was also a profile of Stefania LaVie Owen, who plays the daughter of McConaughey and Fisher’s characters.
As I half-mentioned above, Korine has a good number of fans who were drawn to the crazy, nihilistic, sun-drenched rebellion in Spring Breakers a few years ago. So the campaign is smart to make him a focal point, particularly when it comes to the press and publicity work. His is the creative vision that has garnered the interest of so many people who want to follow his work, and this is an opportunity to do so.
McConaughey, of course, is also front and center in the marketing. The #mcconaugheysance that was in full force in the first half of the 2010s has faded recently due to some off-kilter choices. So the campaign here sells audiences on a return to his bongo-playing form, promising a movie whose main theme is that the sun-drenched actor is just hanging out and having a good time. Though it’s likely deeper than that, there’s nothing wrong with that simple selling point either.
Picking Up the Spare
There were also further interviews with Korine where he talked about working with McConaughey and what he wanted to do with the story. Costume designer Heidi Bivens shared just how many thongs were required for production.