- There’s a new trailer for Terminator 2: Judgement Day to promote the movie’s upcoming 3D rerelease in theaters.
- A new 60-second trailer for Dunkirk amps up the tension through a cool use of sound and cuts in the film. The movie is also getting its own VR experience, which is unusual for a non-superhero/sci-fi flick, and that has a trailer.
- One more trailer for War For The Planet of the Apes acts as a “previously on…” recap of the previous two movies and the events that have lead to all-out war.
- The details on which studios are bringing which movies to San Diego Comic-Con to reach that audience have emerged. Some interesting choices here.
- The first trailer for Icarus, Netflix’s new documentary about Russian Olympic doping, is really powerful. Can you imagine if a system this devoted to cheating set their mind toward, I don’t know, American politics? Yikes.
- Belle de Jour is turning 50 and getting a big 4K theatrical release, with a new trailer promoting that event that’s amazing. (via IndieWire)
- I don’t get to watch too many of them but I love documentaries about niche subcultures, so I dug the trailer for California Typewriter about enthusiasts of the technology.
- Fox Searchlight put out a fun “lyric video” to promote its rap culture movie Patti Cake$.
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver hit theaters last weekend. In the story Baby (Ansel Elgort) is an in-demand getaway driver for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey), sought after for his incredible skills behind the wheel of any car. That talent comes in part because of innate skill and partly because he keeps headphones in his ears, with music constantly playing to not only drown out the buzz caused by a childhood injury but also to eliminate any distractions from the road in front of him.
Baby Driver is just the latest Hollywood story of getaway drivers, the guys who sit in the car waiting for the heist or robbery to go down so they can get everyone out of there in a hurry. And there are some common elements to how all those movies, including Baby Driver, have been sold to the public.
Rule #1: Show the Car, Preferably in Motion
Makes sense, right? If you want to sell a movie about fast cars then you need to put a fast car on the poster. That’s true for Baby Driver as well as for the one sheets for 2012’s Hit & Run and 1978’s The Driver. All three prominently feature the vehicle the driver will use to get away from the scene of the crime or whatever else the story needs him to escape from. Notably the theatrical one sheet for Drive, starring Ryan Gosling, doesn’t take an action-oriented approach, instead opting for a shot of him sitting contemplatively behind the wheel. That hints at the story’s more dramatic, character-driven approach.
Fast-moving cars are obviously a big part of most all these trailers as well. Drive, Baby Driver and Hit & Run all put the spotlight squarely on the car at various times. All those are high-octane action sequences compared to The Driver, where the scenes of the cars in action come off more like the requisite car chases that were part of almost every episode of “The Rockford Files,” but we’ll try not to hold the 1970s against anyone.
Rule #2: Show the Conflict
The poster for 1997’s Heaven’s Burning shows Russell Crowe in one shot while masked thugs are seen in surrounding photos. So we don’t get a clear sense that he’s a getaway driver of any sort but do see he’s surrounded by armed tough guys who he’ll likely go up against. Similarly, the poster for The Driver, starring Bruce Dern and Ryan O’Neal, makes it clear those two, one a cop and one a driver, are going to butt heads.
The trailer for The Driver hits that especially hard, making it clear there’s a girl that stands between the two men, with the cop leaning on that woman in an effort to get the driver he’s trying to arrest. Hit & Run takes a much more comedic approach, explaining to the
audience that Dax Shepherd’s character is reformed and while Bradley Cooper’s is out for the money he’s owed they can still get along.
Rule #3: Emphasize the Skill of the Driver
Watch the trailers for both Baby Driver and Drive and there’s someone, in both cases a crime boss, who’s extolling the talent of the driver and his ability behind the wheel. That’s usually accompanied by a montage of clips showing just how talented they are. There isn’t that kind of boasting in trailers for The Driver or Hit & Run, though. In both those cases the drivers aren’t repeatedly referred to as “the best,” just as very good at what they do, or at least good enough to not be either in jail or dead yet.
That skill level is a little harder to convey on the posters, but it’s still clear who the talent behind the wheel is from the way they’re arranged. It’s assumed no one is calling Kevin Spacey “Baby Driver” and Gosling, as he moodily stares into the middle distance is obviously ready to “Drive.” Similarly, the one without the gun on The Driver’s poster is probably the one ready to do the driving. Hit & Run’s poster is less clear, just showing the car and cast headshots.
Rule #4: Use a Car Pun or Reference In The Tagline
Drive: “There are no clean getaways”
Hit & Run: “A comedy that never takes its foot off the gas.”
OK, both are fine, but are kind of on the nose when you’re selling a car-centric movie. You can’t really take points off because they’re thematically appropriate, but you also can’t help but wince a bit at the obviousness.
There are two exceptions in this case. Baby Driver used “All you need is one killer track” is more of an extension of the campaign’s overall focus on the music and soundtrack than anything else. Throughout the marketing of the movie the music has come up again and again, so it makes sense that this is the approach taken when it came to copy. The Driver used “To break the driver, the cop was willing to break the law,” which similarly continues that campaign’s emphasis on the looming showdown between two men on opposite sides of the law.
Well, the first trailer for Fun Mom Dinner is out and I have some thoughts.
- There’s a hot take to be written at some point about how we’re supposed to just assume that something is funnier just because it involves mothers, with the comedy derived mainly from putting the person most responsible for everyone in outrageous situations designed to show them acting out.
- This is being sold in almost exactly the same way as both Bad Moms (and now Bad Moms Christmas) and Rough Night. Girls Trip is a bit different, though.
- Putting both Adam Scott and Paul Rudd in the movie is almost unfair in how it’s going to appeal to certain subsets of the female audience.
- Speaking of which, is Rudd playing the same character he did in My Idiot Brother? Has anyone else posited this yet? I feel I’m on solid ground.
- I’m 100% surprised there isn’t vomiting shown on-screen here.
- Also, I’m 100% certain at some point I’ve inadvertently referred to watching my own kids as “babysitting.” Let’s just move on.
- Is it just me or is Rudd not included in the credits at the end? What’s up with that?
“Marvel vs DC” is an easy narrative that’s picked up both fans and critics. Goodness knows there’s been plenty of opportunity to have that discussion, either in comic shops or theater lobbies, where films based on comic book characters are squaring off against each other.
Today I’m going to focus on something that hasn’t been endlessly debated already but which came into focus in the last month. Namely, the massively different approaches taken on the posters for the two most recent comic book movies, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
If you look at the posters for Wonder Woman, many of which were created by either Concept Arts or BOND, you’ll see a sleek, simplified approach. Each poster went for one specific message while also carrying over some brand consistency. So a series of posters emphasized character traits like “Courage” and “Power” while others conveyed those characteristics simply by posing star Gal Gadot in various ways. They all tied together through the use of red, orange and blue, using visuals that reflected the light, clearly telling the audience the movie would have a brighter tone than previous DCU films. Each one was striking for its minimalism, something that may have been equal parts intentional and simply the result of not having a whole cast of heroes that needed to share the spotlight.
Contrast that with the overly-busy posters for Spider-Man: Homecoming. The designers here seem to have been given the direction to leave nothing off. Every poster, even the early ones, make it clear that Spider-Man is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s done either (relatively) subtly by just putting Avengers Tower in the background of the New York City skyline or overtly by including Iron Man and/or Tony Stark. And it’s not just that the character shows up here and there. Just like with the trailers, Stark/Iron Man is everywhere. By my count, there were eight domestic U.S. posters and six of them feature either Iron Man or Avengers Tower. All sense of understated design thinking is discarded on a couple of the posters that seem to have been created by someone pasting photos from Google Image searches together. It’s a very colorful campaign, but it’s also as subtle as an elephant with a sinus infection.
I’m not going to expect the less artistically-minded approach taken in Spider-Man’s campaign to impact its box office at all. But it’s notable how this is being sold as a movie that literally has *everything* the audience might be looking for, as compared to Wonder Woman’s posters that sold an image of a strong, confident solo woman superhero who stood out on her own. That shows a completely different mindset on the part of the studio, one that’s more committed to selling an attitude and style versus one that just needs to make sure it hits all its contractually-obligated beats.
I know which one I prefer.
Spider-Man is back in theaters in this week’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. After an extended cameo in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, this is Tom Holland’s second outing as the web-slinger and his first in the character’s own movie. Well…kind of his own movie. The corporate cooperation that began with Civil War continues here. Sony, which owns the theatrical rights to Spider-Man, is essentially loaning him out to Marvel Studios, which manages the highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. So Sony gets to use the successful platform of that behemoth to help launch their third go-around at Spider-Man, while Marvel gets to incorporate Spidey into their big event movies.
Continuing the story set up in Civil War, Peter Parker is enamored with the tech genius Tony Stark (played again by Robert Downey Jr.). Stark provides him with a high-tech suit to help Parker fight local neighborhood crime as Spider-Man. The stakes get considerably higher when Spidey crosses paths with, and gets on the wrong side of, The Vulture (Michael Keaton). That conflict threatens everything that Peter holds near and dear and could upend the life he leads as a seemingly unremarkable high school student.
Sony is hinting at something with the release of a video (I’m not referring to it as a “viral video” as some others are doing because you don’t get to decide that, it’s the result of it being well-received, not a designation that’s assigned) entitled “This Means Something.” The video is in some manner tied to Steven Spielberg’s classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind and takes audio from a key sequence in that movie involving an air traffic controller listening to reports of an unidentified object in the skies that’s been seen by some commercial airliners. At the end of the video the URL WeAreStillNotAlone.com is displayed and when you go there you can sign up to “receive updates on UFO sightings.”
So what’s Sony up to? There’s no official news here but it likely has something to do with this December being the 40th anniversary of the movie’s release. It’s almost inconceivable that a sequel of any sort could be in the works, so the simplest explanation is that there’s a theatrical rerelease or new Blu-ray set coming later this year to mark the movie’s fourth decade.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun preferring Close Encounters more than Spielberg’s other early-career science fiction effort, E.T. I enjoy the languid pacing of the story, identify with the struggles of Richard Dreyfuss’ slightly-mad father and feel the full weight of the final act on the top of Devil’s Peak more intensely. It’s just as heartwarming in its own way as anything else the director has helmed, though it comes at that somewhat sideways and takes a long time to get there. Still, I find it rewards multiple viewings more than most other Spielberg movies.
Stay tuned for updates.
A Ghost Story sees writer/director David Lowery returning to his indie-film roots after taking his turn at a big studio movie with last year’s Pete’s Dragon adaptation. The movie reunites him with the cast of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, both Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck.
It’s a simple story: Affleck plays the ghost of a man who has recently passed away, returning to try to connect with his still-living wife (Mara) in their home. But, floating around like a cliched ghost in a white sheet, he finds he’s not in one time or place, instead floating throughout his own timeline as he’s forced to grapple with some of life’s most serious questions.
The first poster uses one of the key images of the movie to stark, simple effect. So aside from the title, a short pull quote and the cast list, the only thing here is a photo of someone standing there in a bedsheet with the eyes cut out. “It’s all about time” we’re told in the copy toward the bottom of the design. The whole thing looks like it’s in black and white and the starry background that’s shown gives it a weird, mysterious scope, which is cool.
The first trailer opens with the sheet-covered figure standing in what looks to be a quarry before we get shots of M and C in bed and generally being a cute couple. She’s telling him about the notes she used to leave in an old house so she’d have something to come back to. When we see that he’s died she becomes depressed and through the rest of the trailer we see the ghost lingering on the edges of the action of M and others.
I’m not sure what exactly is going on here but I’m on board. The performances from Mara and Affleck look great and this seems like a mysterious, twisty story that really has to be seen to be fully understood or believed. It certainly lives up to the hype that came out of festival screenings.
Online and Social
The official website is wholly unique. First of all, the URL ends in .store and the point here is – or at least was – to get you to “buy” a sheet like the one worn by Affleck in the movie. There are prompts to enter to redeem a code or you can hold down your mouse button and watch a 9-minute long video of scenes from the movie with text like “Why are you here?” and “Are you feeling infinite?” over them before you’re given the chance to order your own. Unfortunately they’re all out of stock but the site still looks like it’s selling them, with promotional copy akin to what you’d find on the site of Land’s End or something. There’s even a link to a store in New York where you can, or could, get your own.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve been able to find. The movie isn’t big enough to get a huge ad spend so while there may be some targeted ads in select cities, there’s nothing to my knowledge that’s run nationwide.
Media and Publicity
The movie got some early votes of confidence when A24 picked up distribution rights before it even premiered at Sundance. It was there that Lowery talked about the emotional journey of making the movie and Affleck and Mara talked about working together again and what it was like to take on such a gut-wrenching story.
There were a few other interviews by Lowery, Mara or Affleck to talk about similar subjects. And there was some coverage of the small storefront A24 set up to sell sheets and the whole experience the studio created for that.
I’m intrigued by how A24 has set out to sell this as something very, very different. It’s not Ghost, with its swooning love story about eternal love. But it’s also not a story of overtly trying to set things right or come to terms with the life you lived while you were here. Instead it’s being sold as a mysterious love story that is more about the rubble one leaves behind in a life than an effort to pick up that rubble.
The campaign really has to be divided into two halves: First, the poster and trailer are nicely consistent in how they present a strange, unusual story about a man wearing a white sheet and kinda sorta haunting his widow; Second, the website and the experiential element of actually having people being able to to order and buy the sheets shows the studio having a bit of fun with the concept. That’s great, but it’s doubtful that’s going to do much to reach more than a small subset of the audience outside of film press and those who hang on their every word. Still, it’s a fun execution and deserves some kudos.
I’ve written a lot about movies over the years. Since 2004 I’ve been writing about film marketing campaigns and related topics in a variety of places. Cinematic Slant is meant to be a home for all of that.
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The first trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is out and I have thoughts.
- Why is every franchise adaptation now a variation on The Breakfast Club? First it was the Power Rangers film, now it’s Jumanji that starts out with a group of mis-matched high school students being thrown together in detention. Is this the only way modern screenwriters can think of to bring characters to one place so the plot can kick in?
- Throwing a flag on flagrant underuse of Marc Evan Jackson as the principal. If this is all Hollywood can think of to do with him, there are bigger issues.
- Why do they react to the discovery of an old game system with such shock? They’ve never seen something like this before?
- So…it’s TRON?
- Karen Gillan’s wardrobe was a controversial point when promotional images started coming out, but the explanations amounted to “well that’s how video game females look,” which isn’t enough. Neither is acknowledging it with dialogue.
- Still waiting for Kevin Hart to not play Kevin Hart.
- Oh cool, funny Jack Black is back.
- Well of course Guns ’n’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” was going to be used.
Today is National Sunglasses Day and everyone on Twitter and Instagram is celebrating by sharing pictures of themselves – or their children – sporting shades. It may be happening on Facebook as well, but we’ll only know in two or three days when the News Feed surfaces those posts.
To mark the day let’s take a look at some iconic movie posters featuring not only the main characters from those films but shows them wearing sunglasses for whatever reason.
“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”
The fact that Jake and Elwood Blues are perpetually wearing their sunglasses is part of the appeal of those characters, something that makes them look cooler than cool, to the extent that it becomes a joke in the final act of the story in that iconic line above. With that exception it’s never mentioned or pointed out by anyone, even when they’re still sporting them while wearing only a towel in a steam room. The only time you see either of them remove their sunglasses is when Jake is trying to stop Carrie Fisher’s character from mowing him down with a machine gun, and that removal is meant to signal just how sincere he’s being with his apology.
The movie that first brought Kate Hudson to most people’s attention did so initially by making her face more or less the sole element on the one sheet.
An important part of that photo is the hippie sunglasses she’s wearing, the purple tint of which means you can’t see her eyes. But what you can see are the reflected images of the rock concert she’s apparently watching, with at least a couple performers visible in the reflection along with the adoring throng.
That worked to not just sell the time period – the sunglasses themselves should have told you the story takes place in the post-Summer Of Love 70s – but also the setting in the world of the rock music industry.
This poster immediately conveyed the anonymous but lethal attitude of the five gangsters who are brought together by Joe to commit a bank robbery in Quentin Tarantino’s debut feature.
Chief among those attitude-conveying elements are the sunglasses worn by all five crooks, which pair nicely with the white shirts and black tie and suits they all wear. Those sunglasses mean they’re keeping part of themselves hidden while also trying to look as cool as possible, not just that they want to keep the sun out of their eyes.
Again, the sunglasses are a key part of what we’ll learn about the character in James Cameron’s sci-fi action film.
On the poster Arnold Schwarzenegger wears them along with a leather jacket that’s unbuttoned down to, it seems, his knees. He’s meant to look as lethal as possible and the sunglasses convey a cool, detached, lethal professionalism that’s augmented by the fancy looking gun he’s carrying.
Importantly, those sunglasses also convey a bit of character information beyond his attitude, with what looks like a digital serial code seen on one of the lenses. That hints to the audience that this cold-blooded killer may not be entirely human.
It’s not the 1997 remake, which was more concerned with selling star Jeremy Irons, but the 1967 original adaptation of Alexander Nabokov’s story of teen seduction that sports the notable shades.
The title character is seen on the poster suggestively eating a cherry-red lollipop, looking over the heart-shaped sunglasses she’s wearing at someone in the distance. There’s nothing in the reflection to see, so this is all about establishing the character, with those heart-shapes conveying that she’s all about love in some manner or another.