How A24 has sold a dark comedy about friends, murder and secrets
A reunion of friends gets weird quickly in Bodies Bodies Bodies, the new release from A24 coming to theaters this weekend. The story focuses on a house party being hosted by Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and David (Pete Davidson). With Sophie fresh out of rehab, hints of secrets and deception around them and an unbalanced social dynamic given David is rich while the rest aren’t, things take a turn after a game of Bodies, Bodies, Bodies – initially intended to loosen things up – ends in the discovery of an actual dead body and the search for who among the group might be the killer.
Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Lee Pace, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott and Conner O’Malley round out the cast of partygoers in the film, directed by Halina Reijn and written by Sarah DeLappe.
So, with the reminder that this definitely isn’t the Apple TV+ series “The Afterparty”, let’s take a look at how it’s been sold.
announcement and casting
A24 acquired the project, at the time a spec script from Kristen Roupenian, in 2018.
Stenberg and Bakalova were the first to be cast in early 2021 as production began, with Davidson and others added over the next few months.
the marketing campaign
The first move in the marketing campaign was a screening of the film at the SXSW Film Festival in March of this year. Reviews and buzz out of that screening were generally positive and A24 set a release date shortly after the festival ended.
“This is not a safe space” we’re warned on the first poster, released in late April, as seven pairs of eyes look out with a knife cutting through the copy.
The first trailer (1.1m YouTube views) came out at the same time and shows a wild night happening. We get some glimpse into the strained friendships among those in the house, but mostly it’s about showing what a crazy time everyone is having. Eventually, though, things get serious when one of them turns up dead, but the people in the house are still seen to be more focused on their own trauma and making sure they’re not triggered.
Featured in the trailer – and highlighted by the studio after its release – is an original song from Charlie XCX, who is apparently a current popular music artist.
Rejin, Stenberg and others were interviewed in EW’s summer movie preview issue about the origins of the story, the process of putting together the cast and more.
The next poster came out at the beginning of June, this time showing the faces of the characters, all of whom are illuminated by the light from their cellphones. The knife from the first one-sheet is moved to the background on this one, more of a hint than an overt statement to the audience.
Reijn participated in a Q&A after a screening of the film as part of Sundance London later that month.
Herrold and Stenberg interviewed each other about this movie as well as the other projects they were currently involved in.
As the second trailer (7m YouTube views), released in mid-June, begins, Bee and Sophie are on their way to David’s house for the party. From there it follows the progression of the party, from having fun and dancing through playing the game to finding one of their friends dead. Everything gets more tense from there as the night progresses as they turn on each other while also trying to stay safe.
A week or so later a series of short videos were published introducing the audience to the various characters and what personality type they filled in the story.
Most of the cast assembled at San Diego Comic-Con late last month for interviews and a screening to publicize the film to what was hoped to be a young, hip and interested crowd.
“Hot Girl”, the Charlie XCX song teased in the trailer, was released at the end of June with a lyric visualizer and lots of interviews/reviews.
A24 held a few screenings of the film in recent weeks, culminating in a special event in New York City with some of the cast in attendance to introduce the movie and get audiences excited.
The campaign is pretty good, but it’s definitely targeted at those under 30. They’re the group that’s going to find some of the dynamics displayed in the trailers and elsewhere most relatable. They’re also more likely to have a high tolerance for Pete Davidson in particular, who sticks out in the marketing like a sore thumb that has probably crashed on your couch for a month while he “figures things out”, which oddly looks a lot like smoking weed and getting five more tattoos you’re pretty sure are infected.
That’s not to say it will definitely fall flat for those outside that group. But it’s clear the studio is targeting those for whom going to parties with glow necklaces and weed-laced cake is the norm.