Director Ry Russo-Young helms this week’s new release The Sun Is Also A Star, a movie that that takes the “meet cute” portion of most romantic comedies and extends what’s usually a short sequence to feature length.
Yara Shahidi stars as Natasha, a young woman just hours away from being deported along with the rest of her family. She meets Daniel (Charles Melton), a brash young man who lives under the weight of his family’s expectations. He thinks they were destined to meet but she sees the situation as a distraction. Still, she agrees to spend a bit of time with him just to see what happens, a decision that has ramifications for both of them.
The first poster, released in February, shows the two young lovers sitting close to each other while gazing vaguely into the middle distance, a decorative wall covered in drawings of constellations behind them in keeping with the star-based theme.
Natasha is a dreamer, we see in the first trailer, but one who’s about to be expelled from her home. She meets Daniel when he saves her from walking into traffic. He’s immediately taken with her and promises he can get her to fall in love with him in less than an afternoon. So they set out together on a series of outings, all of which are complicated by the fact that she and her family are leaving the next day. So they embrace what time they have.
Online and Social
The only official web presence for the movie appears to be a site containing the trailer, a synopsis and other basic information about the movie. Social profiles are linked to as well.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
An extended TV spot introduces Natasha and Daniel and explains the situation they find themselves in as well as how the single day they spend together defies their expectations. Online ads used elements from the key art.
For a small romantic comedy the movie had quite a few promotional partners:
- NYCgo, which took advantage of the movie’s premise of two people walking around New York City to encourage tourism, including commissioning a movie-themed mural.
- Barnes & Noble, which used the movie to promote its selection of YA books and more.
- Forever 21, which hosted an event with Melton in New York City as a way to get people in stores.
- LuMee, which presumably has its product – a special camera lighting tool for mobile devices – featured in the movie given Natasha is an artist and photographer.
- Scholly, which offered a chance to win a year’s worth of student debt payments, a promotion that says more about the state of society than we have time to delve in to here.
Media and Publicity
The original song “Paradise” by Bazzi was teased in a short video.
An interview with the cast covered the themes Russo-Young was trying to cover in the story.
A brief featurette focused on the very different backgrounds of the characters and the role fate plays in the development of their relationship.
Both Melton and Shahidi made the media rounds, with interviews where they talked about the story and the unconventional nature of the movie. They also appeared at Barnes & Noble and other retail locations around the country on a publicity tour to try and get audiences excited for the movie.
Russo-Young talked about how much she enjoyed working with the young cast, her second foray into the YA genre and what might be next.
The stars spoke at the movie’s premiere on the importance of romance and other stories focused on immigrants given the massive role they play in society on multiple levels, especially at a time when immigration is under fire by so many. That such stories are still the exception was part of why the “#GoldOpen” crowd that turned out for Crazy Rich Asians and other recent movies adopted this one as well, turning it into “#BlackandGoldOpen,” buying out theaters and encouraging young fans on platforms like Twitch to support the movie for its inclusiveness.
The Root hosted an exclusive clip from the movie along with an interview with Shahidi where she spoke about romance, her bi-racial identity and more. She and Melton played a fun game to show how well they’d really gotten to know each other.
What strikes me most about the campaign is that instead of acting like the movie will just naturally attract an audience of young people because of its cast and source material, it actually works to reach them and make the movie relevant. That’s especially evident in the appeal to non-white audiences, with Shahidi and Melton doing interviews and appearances in outlets that target black and other audiences. Those efforts have paid off in the support it’s received from those communities, who want movies like this to succeed so there are more of them, offering additional opportunities to see people who look like themselves and stories they can relate to on screen.
The movie’s inclusive cast is a core part of the marketing message. Natasha and Daniel’s identities are central to the characters and the story, not simply something that is tacked on after the fact to a generic story. That’s important since, while making race a non-issue is good by showing it’s not a huge factor for most characters, telling stories that couldn’t or wouldn’t happen to anyone else is even more critical. It’s dressed up as a conventional romantic comedy of sorts, but the message being sent is more deeper than that.