Run – Marketing Recap

How Hulu is selling a psychological mother-daughter drama.

There are too many real life stories of parents abusing their children in some manner. The new movie Run, debuting on Hulu this week from writer/director Aneesh Chaganty, is about just that kind of situation.

Sarah Paulson plays Diane Sherman, a mother who has cared for her chronically ill daughter Chloe (Kiera Allen) throughout the girl’s life. The two have a good relationship, but now that Chloe is a teen she’s worried her mother is doing too much. Diane’s assurances that she’s fine, Chloe begins to find evidence that her mom may not be as loving as she seems and may in fact be actively keeping Chloe sick and dependent on her care.

The movie was originally set for theatrical release in March from Lionsgate, but that studio pulled it from the schedule because of the coronavirus. Hulu then acquired it in August. Since then it’s run a campaign that has sold it as a psychological thriller, albeit one focused on the mother-daughter dynamic. It also has an excellent 96% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Posters

The first poster (by marketing agency P+A) came out in February when Lionsgate still had control of the film. Its design strongly evokes the work of Saul Bass for the films of Alfred Hitchcock, with the figure of Diane looking up the staircase at the figure of Chloe. The vibe here is kind of great, with the tension of the story communicated not only by the distance between the two but also the copy “You can’t escape a mother’s love.”

That same tagline is used on the second poster, also released in February. This time, though, the image is a photo of Diane looking slightly worried with a smaller photo of Chloe placed inside of Diane’s head to show the strange connection between the two.

The Trailers

The first thing we see in February’s first trailer (13.6 million views on YouTube) is Diane looking at the tiny body of Chloe hooked up to tubes and instruments as she lies in a NICU incubator. Cut to present day and Chloe is a grown teen in a wheelchair and living with her mother, who does everything for her. But Chloe, worried she’s not doing enough, begins to become suspicious her mother is hiding something from her. Turns out that might be a great many things, including what her real name is. Not only that, it’s implied Diane might be keeping her daughter sick and needing her aid, leading to some tense and dangerous situations.

A new trailer (170,000 views on YouTube) came out in late October that establishes the drama of the story quite nicely. It starts by showing what seems to be a loving relationship between Diane and Chloe, but which soon evolves into something much more dangerous. As Chloe becomes more aware of what her mother has been doing, Diane’s actions become more desperate and all the more terrifying because they are being done out of what she considers to be “love.”

Online and Social

No stand-alone website that was easily found, but there were some social profiles to share promotions and other updates on the movie.

Advertising and Promotions

A “date announcement” spot came out in late September when Hulu finally put it on the calendar.

Further short video promotions came out on social media over the next couple months.

Some of those were used as pre-roll ads in the weeks leading up to release.

Hulu announced a watch party accompanied by a Twitter Q&A for the day after the movie was scheduled for release.

A drive-in premiere was held in L.A. earlier this week.

Media and Press

A first-look photo came out just before the trailer was released, including comments from Paulson and Allen on how they got involved in the project and what drew them to the material.

Not a whole lot of other press activity in the immediate lead-up to the movie. Most of the interviews with Paulson in particular have been about her roles on the latest iteration of “American Horror Story” or on Netflix’s “Ratched.”

Overall

The subject matter of the story is certainly disturbing, that’s beyond dispute. But the marketing offers the promise of an interesting and revelation-filled journey to find out just how disturbing things get and what exactly is happening. There are some moments in the campaign that make it seem as if Diane is not doing what it seems, showing that it’s worth the audience’s time to check it out and see what the truth of the matter is.

The Burnt Orange Heresy – Marketing Recap

How Sony Pictures Classics is selling a heist story set in the art world.

burnt orange heresy posterThe Burnt Orange Heresy, opening this weekend in limited release, is one of a series of recent films set in the world of high art and about those most mercurial of creatures, the artist, as well as those around them.

The story focuses on an art critic named James Figueras (Claes Bang). Seeking to restore his tarnished reputation he brings his girlfriend Bernice (Elizabeth Debicki) on a trip to Italy to meet Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger), an art dealer with a mysterious offer to make to Figueras. Cassidy wants Figueras to use his position to steal a new work from Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland), a legendary but reclusive artist who hasn’t put out anything new in years. Accepting the offer takes Figueras down a dark road that leads to more and more problems, both personal and professional.

SPC has used the positive buzz coming out of festival screenings to mount a campaign positioning the movie as a high-end heist with moral complications for all the characters involved.

The Posters

It’s a great aesthetic on the movie’s one poster, which has all four of the main characters standing in front of the camera, the Italian villa where much of the action takes place at the bottom of the image. Everyone’s faces appear more or less as photographs but a paint-like veneer is added further down to lend the poster a more artistic feel. A positive pull quote from an early review is shared at the top, just above the names of previous successful films the producers have been involved in. Toward the bottom the tagline tells the audience “You can’t paint over the truth,” hinting that there’s more than a little deception happening in the movie.

The Trailers

Late January brought the release of the first trailer (131,000 views on YouTube). It opens with Hollis questioning Figueras about his background and childhood, with him doing a bit of deflecting. The two begin a relationship, and when they’re invited to Cassidy’s estate, on which lives the reclusive Debney. Cassidy offers to help Figueras work with Debney, but on the condition the dealer steal a valuable painting for him. Agreeing to do so takes Figueras down a dark path that threatens everything about his life.

Online and Social

There’s not much aside from the option to buy tickets and view the basic marketing materials on the official website. It hasn’t received a lot of support on SPC’s brand social channels, either.

Advertising and Publicity

It was announced in late July that the movie would be the closing night feature at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. That screening resulted in mixed reviews for the film as a whole though the performances by the leads were readily praised.

Sony Pictures Classics acquired the film shortly after that. It then screened at the Toronto Film Festival where it picked up additional accolades. In 2020 the movie was announced as the opening feature at the Miami Film Festival.

Media and Press

More than one story like this ran during the movie’s festival appearances, calling out Jagger’s role in the film. There were also interviews with Bang about the nature of his character. Oddly, there doesn’t seem to have been a major press push closer to release.

Overall

Like many such releases, the campaign here is reminiscent of the kind of movies that used to be sold to the public with some regularity in the mid-90s, when the art house really exploded. It sells a character-driven drama with plenty of twists and turns and characters making poor ethical choices, all taken very seriously amidst lush and expensive settings.

The buzz generated by festival screenings was mostly positive but hasn’t really been built upon in the bridge leading up to theatrical release. That’s a missed opportunity, but the campaign still works on most levels. While the story may not be upfront in the campaign, which is an issue, the focus on selling the classy vibe of the story and in that respect it more or less succeeds.

Picking Up The Spare

Debicki appeared on late night to talk about the movie and more.

Sony Pictures Classics tried to get another bite at the apple by scheduling another theatrical release for the film since the initial one had been cut prematurely short by the Covid-19 pandemic. That push included a new trailer, which was actually just the old one with the date attached, and poster. 

That effort included another interview with Jagger about his return to acting after a few decades. Later on there was an interview with Sutherland about the reclusive artist he plays. 

An extended preview was released as the movie was coming to digital and blu-ray.