Kajillionaire – Marketing Recap

How Focus Features is selling the latest from an acclaimed writer/director.

(Note: Yes, this came out last week. Let’s move on.)

The release of a new movie from Miranda July is cause for a fair amount of celebration, and something that hasn’t happened in almost a decade. Thankfully she’s back with Kajillionaire. Evan Rachel Wood stars as Old Dolio, a young woman whose parents Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger) have long made her a part of their petty scams and cons.

There’s a change in the family dynamic when, out of the blue, Robert and Theresa invite an outsider into their activities. Adding Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), something done while trying to get out of a tense situation, changes things substantially, including making Old Dolio begin to question what else might be out there for her.

Focus Features has given what seems to be quirky character drama an appropriately quirky campaign, one that relies heavily on the indie cache of July. The film currently has an 87 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with reviews praising Wood’s performance as well as July’s handling of the story.

The Posters

Old Dolio is literally surrounded by the detritus of her makeshift life on the poster, released at the end of July. There are pancakes, cash, watches and other items are all around her while she, in the center, looks disinterested and somewhat distracted but it’s clear her life revolves around all of this. The tagline “Know your worth” is at the bottom, indicating that Old Dolio is struggling with who she is and what her role in the world is, especially as it relates to the other characters who appear at the bottom of the swirl.

The Trailers

The first trailer (5.3 million views on YouTube) was released in early August and starts by showing how Old Dolio participates in the petty crimes, hustles and schemes of her parents. Everything is fine in their world until those parents introduce an outsider, Melanie, into the dynamic. That creates new feelings in Dolio, who has to finally grapple with the kind of life she is leading versus the one she wants to be leading, and she finds she has to make some big decisions in order to bridge the gap between the two.

Online and Social

Focus’ website for the film has the standard material, including that trailer, a synopsis and a handful of photos. There’s also, notably, a survey for those who have already seen the movie to take. That’s interesting since it seems, based on the questions, designed to help the studio gauge reception in a way that may guide its thinking going forward.

Advertising and Promotions

At Sundance 2020 the movie received its debut screening in the Premieres portion of the festival. After initial reports A24 was about to close a deal, it was picked up by Focus Features after the festival ended. A release date4 was announced in March, but it was pushed because of the Covid-19 pandemic to September.

Singer Angel Olsen recently released the song “Mr. Lonely,” one that’s labeled as being inspired by the film.

Focus Features worked with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and American Cinematheque on a virtual retrospective of July’s previous work.

MovieClips was given an exclusive clip showing the family dynamic at the heart of the story.

Media and Press

At the festival, Rodriguez talked about the easy time she had working with Wood and the rest of the cast.

July was interviewed about the making of the movie and her career in general. There were a number of similar interviews where she talked about creativity, making a family drama crossed with a heist film,

A brief interview with Angel Olsen let her talk about collaborating with July on the cover of “Mr. Lonely.”

Rodriguez spoke about how she stepped into a role July had written specifically with her in mind. Similar ground was covered in an interview with Wood, which also included her comments on other projects she’s involved in.

Overall

If July’s previous films are any indication, there’s lots waiting for the audience that’s not contained in this campaign. The story is pretty well laid out, as are the relationships between the major characters, offering something intriguing if a bit unconventional for the general audience. Those more familiar with the writer/director’s earlier work will find more nuance in what’s shown here, especially since July’s name is generously attached to all aspects of the marketing, making it clear this is her latest effort.

Picking Up The Spare

A feature profile of the movie’s production team had them talking about creating the look and feel of the film in L.A.

July appeared on “Late Night” to talk about the movie and what inspires her. 

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