How Bleecker Street is selling an inspirational drama.
Too many times, movies and other stories are only interested in women or wives to the extent that the male lead leaves, embarking on whatever mission or job he might have. The wife or girlfriend is only seen as waiting helplessly for them to return, usually with tears in her eyes as she hugs the small child they have. Half of these movies star Mark Wahlberg.
Military Wives is about a group of women who do something for themselves as well as their community while their soldier husbands are deployed away from home. Directed by Peter Cattaneo and written by Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard, the movie stars Kristin Scott Thomas as Kate and Sharon Horgan as Lisa, two of those wives. All the women are very different, united by their status as the ones left behind, and the support group they belong to is having trouble deciding on an activity to pass the time. When they opt to form a singing group they find themselves as well as the community around them inspired and moved in ways they weren’t expecting.
The movie’s campaign has been as uplifting and funny as you’d expect from such a story, focusing on the relationships between a disparate group of adult women and the bonds they form and lives they touch.
Just one poster, dropping this past February, for the domestic U.S. release. Lisa and Kate are shown in the foreground standing back to back with songbook in hand while the rest of the group is seen behind them to make it clear there are a lot of characters we’ll be following. Copy below the title reads “United they sing,” a nice way of communicating both the activity they participate in and the emotional value they get from it. At the very top the audience is told this comes from the director of The Full Monty, though I’m not sure what cache that movie still has.
Kate and Lisa are just two of the women we meet in February’s first trailer (2.3 million views on YouTube), which opens as their husbands are leaving on yet another service deployment. The group comes together in a support group to keep themselves busy and decide to form a makeshift singing group. Initial attempts get off to a rough start, but when everyone loosens up and starts having some fun things turn around. It’s clear the group will deal with the realities of their situation but thanks to those around them they have a support system to get them through the hard times.
Online and Social
There’s not much on Bleecker Street’s official website for the movie other than the basic marketing content. Because of the changes in release (more on that below) there are also links to and other information on various digital platforms where the film will be released.
Advertising and Promotions
Bleecker Street acquired distribution rights shortly after the movie’s well-received debut at the Toronto Film Festival.
A clip showing the group of women singing in a tunnel and discovering that might be something to explore was released in March.
In late April a new promo spot touted the change made by the distributor to release the movie not only to whatever drive-in theaters might be open in the U.S. but also to Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Hulu.
Additional spots have been released over the last few weeks to continue raising awareness of the new digital release plans. Those spots have focused on the women forming the singing group, the way their efforts lift people’s spirits and more.
There was also a short featurette that had the stars and filmmakers talking about the story and characters portrayed in the movie.
Media and Press
Cattaneo spoke during Toronto about the story’s mix of humor and drama and what sort of tone he wanted to strike with the movie.
An interview with Scott-Thomas had her talking about how while the story takes place in the past it’s still very relevant given countless service members continue to be regularly deployed across the world.
The studio’s campaign promises there will be a few moments of laughs, a few moments of tears and a few moments of heartfelt smiles in the film. Trailers and TV spots make the basic outlines of the story pretty clear and show what the overall arc is, meaning audiences can feel comfortable in choosing a movie that seems familiar and safe, like known quantity ahead of time.
In one way it’s unique among the others like it that have drastically pivoted their release strategy in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unlike others, it is still coming from its original distributor and wasn’t offloaded to the service. Nor is it being pushed solely to a premium VOD model. So Bleecker Street still wants to own this, just without being tied to a theatrical model.
There’s not much about the campaign that might catch people’s interest in a normal environment, but a feel-good story in the middle of so much uncertainty may hit just the right chord, especially since it will be so widely available.