The new Netflix-exclusive feature See You Yesterday is a kind of wolf in sheep’s clothing. On the surface it seems like a movie about two young people – Claudette (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Sebastian (Dante Crichlow) – who have put together a working time machine in the way that often happens in movies, where physics isn’t so much a thing.
The surprise comes in what Claudette wants to use that time machine for: Saving her older brother Calvin from being shot by police despite being unarmed and not doing anything illegal. The kids find that while their intentions are good it’s more difficult to rewrite the past than they may have anticipated, and the results of doing so aren’t always what they assumed they would be.
There’s a definite Spy Kids vibe coming off the poster, which shows Claudette and Sebastian in jumpsuits and sporting goggles and other gear as they run toward the camera and away from a clock. That communicates the time travel nature of the story while the emotional stakes are hinted at in the copy “Going back is the only way forward.” It doesn’t hit details of the story too hard, though, seemingly attempting to hook audiences in by showing a fun adventure before offering more serious social commentary.
Claudette and Sebastian are working on their project in the first trailer, seeing its completion as the key to them succeeding. They’re determined to show time travel is possible, something that becomes more personal when Claudette’s brother Calvin is shot and killed by police despite being unarmed. She tries to go back in time and save him but never succeeds. With only a limited amount of time jumps possible she becomes more and more desperate, putting herself and Sebastian in harm’s way as a result.
Online and Social
Nothing here. Netflix didn’t even give it much love on its brand profiles, focusing instead on other recent and upcoming releases.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
No paid media I’ve seen, but some ads are likely coming up post-release.
Media and Publicity
The trailer debuted on EW in late April, just a few weeks before release. Later on director Stefon Bristol revealed how he managed to get Michael J. Fox for a cameo role and then expanded on how criticism Lee had for an early short he produced lead to the two of them collaborating because Bristol wanted to up his game and never be put in that position again.
While it didn’t mention the movie explicitly, a profile of Lee had him talking about working with Netflix on other projects and more about his recent work.
The movie did screen at the recent Tribeca Film Festival, where Bristol continued to speak about the story and how he came to expand his short film to feature length.
It’s interesting to see a movie like this happen. So many of the recent movies that have told stories related to the Black Lives Matter movement have been serious dramas about predominantly adult characters dealing with the aftermath of violence in their communities. Expanding those stories into the realm of science fiction, particularly sci-fi aimed so clearly at younger audiences means touching on those themes in new ways.
A stronger push here would have been welcome to raise awareness the movie was happening and available, but it lacks the star power of some of Netflix’s other recent releases, likely a big reason it didn’t receive more attention. Still, the message is important and shows, at least in some ways, that the idea of police officers shooting unarmed black men is still something we find troubling.
Picking Up the Spare
As suspected, Netflix started running some online ads for the movie once it was available for streaming.