Could Tarantino Handle The Real Life Manson Story?

Quentin Tarantino doesn’t make movies lightly. Each one seems to go through years of prep work and pre-production before he finally commits a single moment to film. The results may sometimes be mixed, but you can’t fault him for not having a plan.

So it’s interesting to hear the next project he’s reported to commit to is based on the Manson Family murders, the horrific crimes committed by Charles Manson and those under his influence in 1969. The story says the Weinstein brothers, Harvey and Bob, would be involved in some manner and that Tarantino has approached Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence to star in the movie.

It’s an unusual development because Tarantino is so well known for creating his own worlds. All his stories have taken place outside our own reality. Jackie Brown is probably the most grounded of the bunch, but that’s not saying much when you put it up against Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight and others.

I’ll admit I’d be curious to see if Tarantino can retain any of the real-life story’s elements (retold remarkably in a past season of Karina Longworth’s excellent You Must Remember This podcast. Start here and work your way through the whole series.) The violence and characters in Tarantino’s stories are usually accentuated and dramatized right up to the point – and sometimes beyond – where they become a caricature. While that might work for a fictional history of a German hunting battalion behind enemy lines in WWII, it might not when constrained by the need to adhere somewhat to reality.

Tarantino, for all his faults, is someone with a unique cinematic vision. How that vision could be used to interpret and retell real events remains to be seen.

War For The Planet of the Apes – Marketing Recap

The conflict that’s been building over the course of two previous movies comes to a head in this week’s War For The Planet Of The Apes. Up to now the story has followed the rise of the apes thanks to a virus that made them more intelligent but which killed vast swaths of the human population. Humans have fought for their survival before but now the final battle for possession of the planet is coming.

Caesar (motion-captured by Andy Serkis) is still leading the ape population, wanting peace with the human survivors but also ready for the war many, both ape and human, seem to want. The humans for their part have rallied an army around the charismatic Colonel (Woody Harrelson), a ruthless leader who will accept nothing less than the complete elimination of the apes. Will peace prevail or will it all end in bloodshed? That’s the core question that drives the story.

The Posters

The first poster shows just how far the series and its characters have come over the years. It shows Caesar, a deadly serious expression on his face and a rifle slung across his back, riding a horse through the snow. “WAR” is the only copy on the one-sheet outside of the release date.

A second poster shows Caesar staring at the camera in a pose we know from a recent trailer is him riding horseback. Just behind him, looking out over his shoulder, is the young girl we saw in that trailer. The copy tells us this is “For freedom. For family. For the planet.” which tells us exactly what the stakes are in this final chapter of the trilogy. Another just shows Nova, the girl, in a colorful field, an ape’s hand putting a small flower in her hair. That’s designed to show that humans and apes can live together, a contrast to the attitude shown through much of the rest of the campaign.

The next poster is solely about the conflict between the two armies. We see the backs of the heads of the human soldiers, many of whom are touting their ape killing attitude or experience on the helmets that are visible here, a few ape collaborators mixed in as well. The ape army is approaching them on foot and climbing over the ramparts, a few emissaries out in front to, it’s assumed, try to broker peace.

A final poster used the same image of Caesar on horseback from the first “WAR” poster, but adds Nova peeking out from in back of him. The copy on this one makes it clear the story is wrapping up in dramatic fashion by prompting the audience to “Witness the end.”

The Trailers

The first trailer starts off with two apes riding along the beach, a human girl on one of their backs. Caesar narrates that he didn’t want, nor did he start, the war with the humans. Various scenes of fighting are followed by a shot of The Colonel overusing his troops and it’s clear he’s the primary adversary for the apes in this story. The two armies go up against each other in a number of ways as he takes over the narration, intoning that if the humans don’t win this fight, it will be a planet of apes.

Not bad. The stakes of the story are laid out pretty clearly here, primarily the conflict between the apes and the last of humanity, now heavily militarized. There’s surely lots more story in the movie itself but this gets the general premise – that it’s time for the final showdown – pretty clear.

A second trailer starts with new footage but narration from the first movies to show how far things have come. Caesar confronts a group of captured soldier before we see some of the other gorillas and then the human army that’s going to make one last attack to save their world. It’s clear a confrontation for survival is in the offing and the action ramps up from there that has both broad and personal stakes.

The final trailer starts with apes breaking into a human home, guns drawn. They take a child they find there, more out of mercy than to take a hostage. We quickly see that the conflict between men and apes is reaching its conclusion, with collaborators and sympathizers for the enemy on both sides. Apes don’t want to fight but the men do and won’t stop until everyone else is dead.

While there are some elements of a philosophical story here about the right and wrong use of violence it’s very clearly being sold as a straightforward action movie in this trailer. It’s all about the explosions and the gunplay and the big, macho speeches being given.

One more trailer acts as a “Previously on…” recap of the previous two movies and the events that have lead to all-out war.

Online and Social

The official website gets the standard Fox template, with a banner at the top that uses a cropped version of the key art of Caesar and Nova. There are prompts just below that banner to watch the trailer, connect with the movie on Facebook or Twitter and to get tickets.

Scroll down and you’re greeted with “Videos” which is where you can watch all the trailers, some featurettes and other clips. The “About” section has a synopsis that sets up the mounting conflict and lists the cast and primary crew.

The “Featured Content” section has a few interesting links. First, there’s a prompt to buy tickets to a special triple feature select theaters hosted this past Wednesday that included all three of the current Apes movies. Next is a link to buy the new Funko POP! figures based on characters from this movie. Finally, there’s a link to the Planet of the Apes hub that will tell you everything you need to know about the franchise, be it on film, in comics or elsewhere.

There are a half-dozen stills in the “Gallery” you can download. “Partners” lists the few companies that have signed on as promotional partners.

The site finishes up with a call to action to sign up for email updates about Fox movies and a gallery of embedded updates from the movie’s social media accounts, including Instagram.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this took on the same tone as the final trailer, with a little bit of hot take-esque philosophy and ethics wrapped up in an action movie that pits apes against humans. More commercials would follow that took varying approaches, selling it as a very small-scale story of compassion or a very large-scale story of all-out warfare.

Promotional partner companies for the movie included:

  • The Jane Goodall Institute, with which Fox partnered to help in that organization’s chimpanzee rescue and refuge programs. A TV spot accompanied that effort.
  • Chase Pay, which offered a buy-one-get-one deal when you purchased tickets through Atom Tickets, the service that encourages group movie outings.
  • T-Mobile, which also worked with Atom Tickets to give its customers $4 tickets for opening weekend.
  • Red Robin, which offered a free movie ticket when you purchased a $25 movie-branded gift card.
  • FYE, though details aren’t readily available. Presumably, the retailer had movie merchandise it was promoting.

Online ads, as well as outdoor billboards and other signage, used the key art of Caesar’s face in close-up while social advertising helped promote the trailers as they were released.

Media and Publicity

One of the first bits of publicity came when the studio launched a contest to give a lucky winner a walk-on role, with the caveat being that they would become an ape and therefore not have their face seen on-screen. Quite a while later the first story details came out at the same time the studio announced the movie would have a significant presence at the upcoming New York Comic-Con, with a “digital billboard” appearing just before that to set the stage for further announcements. That presence also included a panel where the cast and crew talked about the movie, what they have in mind for the future and more.

Further stills and other information trickled out over time, including the fact that the young girl seen in the trailer shares a name with a character from the classic series. Later on, Reeves would talk about what films and styles he was trying to ape (sorry) to create the look, feel and tone of this entry.

As with many recent major releases from this and other studios, Fox announced a virtual reality experience tied to the movie.

Once more Serkis’ motion-capture work for Caesar spurred conversation about what exactly constitutes an awards-worthy performance, and rightfully so. That feature also talked about his career as a whole and the work he does for the motion-capture field as a whole, which is substantive.

Members of the cast also made the talk show rounds in the weeks leading up to release. Harrelson did his share of that, though too often the conversation wound up being less about this movie than his role in the upcoming Han Solo movie that’s had some notable upset recently.


The primary message of the campaign here is that all-out war has finally come to the conflict between man and ape. The disease has taken its toll, the vaccine has made apes incredibly intelligent and the two alpha races are going to play one final game for control of the world. That’s hammered home time and again in the trailers and TV spots as well as through much of the poster component.

There’s also a strong element of compassion, though. Much of that revolves around the girl Nova and the way she’s found and eventually protected by some of the apes. While it’s a small part of the campaign it seems like the kind of thing that could play an outsized role in the movie itself.

Mostly, though, Fox wants audiences to turn out to see the final chapter, and that’s very much how it’s being sold. It all ends here, we’re told in various ways and in various components of the campaign, so if you’ve enjoyed the lead up to this you won’t want to miss the conclusion. Let’s see if that’s enough to catapult it over Spider-Man: Homecoming’s second week.

Manchester By the Sea (After the Campaign Review)

When I reviewed the campaign for Manchester By The Sea last year the movie was already well heralded thanks to rapturous praise coming out of Sundance and other screenings. It was a hit at that festival and was quickly snapped up by Amazon Studios, who made it one of its centerpiece releases, going on to win multiple awards both as a whole and specifically for star Casey Affleck’s performance.

In the movie Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a janitor in Boston who’s called back to the small town of Manchester By The Sea after the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), mostly to be the guardian of Patrick (Lucas Hedges), Joe’s only son. With Patrick’s mother out of the picture because of substance abuse and mental health issues, Lee is the best choice but he bucks against that role. Mostly that’s because his history in the town, involving a tragedy involving his own family and a contentious divorce from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) have branded him somewhat of a pariah in the town. Lee wants to bring Patrick back with him to Boston, but Patrick understandably wants to stay near his friends and the rest of his life.

When the movie immediately ended my reaction was similar to my impression of the marketing, which is that there’s a lot of emotion on display here. It may not always be the most obvious or overt or even relatable, but I felt the conflict between the characters and sympathized to some extent with the predicament they all found themselves in.

That feeling did not last long, though. The more I rolled the movie around in my head and thought about the characters and their motivations, the more problems I had with the whole package.

Sure, Lee is apparently unwanted in Manchester, which makes deciding to move there to care for Patrick difficult. That’s understandable. But there’s no effort made by Lee to find any third alternative between “Boston, but Patrick is miserable” and “Manchester, but Lee can’t hide his shame.” There’s got to be a middle ground between those extremes but in an effort to make the painful emotions as amped-up as possible, the story never explores it. It’s all or nothing. I get that binary choices result in increased tension, but this takes it to a level that makes suspension of disbelief tenuous.

Despite my issues with it, it’s not as if the story was misrepresented in the campaign. It clearly and accurately showed the position Lee is in, though it of course doesn’t reveal what it is that makes Manchester a non-viable option for him personally. If there’s any issue I have with the campaign as whole it’s that it slightly over-emphasized the relationship between Lee and his ex-wife Randi. That was the primary message of the one-sheet and was the subject of a clip released before release that spoiled one of the key emotional moments of the story. While that relationship is certainly important, it’s most often subtext to other events, not something that’s regularly front-and-center.

Home Assistants Present Plentiful Opportunities to Sell Movies

Some big publishers have begun creating new content for Amazon’s video-based Echo Show, an update of its existing Echo home-assistant devices, according to Digiday. Bloomberg, CNN and other media companies are taking the role of early adopter, betting that as fast as these gadgets have grown adding video will only make them more popular. These publishers are looking to monetize their content, largely through advertising, but most are also treating it as a learning exercise since the platform is still new.

It got me wondering, though, how long it’s going to be before enhanced movie marketing efforts are being produced for these devices.

The shallow end of the pool here is, of course, advertising. Right now I’d imagine there’s at least some movie promotion being done through the host-read spots that are common. But when video gets involved studio marketing teams are going to feel even more at home since they will be able to interject movie commercials into the content that’s produced. As the story points out, this is a small device that’s not built for a lean-back experience, so the programming that’s created won’t be long, meaning ads won’t be able to be lengthy either. Imagine, though, ads that are similar to the seven-second pre-roll spots that are shown before YouTube videos. Those would fit right in.

If studios got really ambitious they’d begin creating their own shows for these devices, weekly recaps of movies from the studio that are in theaters or available on home video. 90-120 recaps that are quick and hit a few key points and which could be incorporated into people’s “Daily Flash Briefings” or whatever they’re called. Include a clear call-to-action and you’re golden.

Honestly, it’s kind of shocking the studios aren’t already doing something like this on YouTube or Snapchat. It doesn’t even have to be as substantial and in-depth as The Star Wars Show, This Week in Marvel or DC All Access. Just a couple minutes each week about what’s new and what’s coming soon to keep movies at the top of people’s minds. Seems like a good option to me.

Slanted Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Spoilers!)

Spider-Man: Homecoming opened this past Friday and marks Sony’s sixth Spider-Man solo film and third attempt at a Spider-Man franchise. Spider-Man has had a bit of a sketchy history when it comes to big screen adaptations of the character, so where did this latest crack at the story of Peter Parker rank among the rest? Well, it may be far from perfect, but the film winds up being the best and most faithful adaptation of the Spider-Man mythos to date.


Continue reading “Slanted Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Spoilers!)”

Cool World (25th Anniversary Marketing Flashback)

Released 25 years ago yesterday, Cool World seemed to be aiming to accomplish two things: First, it was Ralph Bakshi’s attempt to make a big of dough by writing and directing another feature film; Second, it was an attempt by Paramount to create an adult-targeting version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, complete with the hybrid animation/live action look of that movie. The movie did get made, but it failed to take off at the box office.

Cool World follows Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne), a cartoonist who created a fictional world called Cool World while in prison. After he’s released he’s pulled into the animated universe by Holli (voiced by Kim Basinger), a femme fatale type who wants to seduce Jack so she can cross over into the human world. The two are foiled by Frank Harris (Brad Pitt), a former soldier who’s been living in Cool World for 40 years and serves as a cop. Holli’s plans grow increasingly desperate and begin to threaten the division between the two worlds.

All of this is told with visuals featuring Bakshi’s trademark look and feel, meaning disproportionately-drawn females, dirty, cigar-chomping men and so on. These are not the clean-cut cartoons of Roger Rabbit, instead very much showing off the sensibility that made Bakshi’s Felix the Cat an underground hit years before.

(A personal note before we go further: While this is not a great movie – it’s actually stunning in its incompetence at times – it still holds a special place in my heart. That’s because months before it opened I was invited, by virtue of my working at a local movie theater at the time, to an advanced distributor screening. That presentation featured a lot of rough animation and even just pencil drawings in places. So while I understand there are plenty of areas on which to criticize the movie I’ll still feel fondly toward it.)

The theatrical poster works hard to sell the sex appeal. The animated Holli is shown walking through a door, pushing aside Pitt, who’s shown as some sort of noir-ish detective with his gun drawn, double-breasted suit and Brian Seltzer-like haircut. Below them are many of the supporting characters, all shown in Bakshi’s signature outrageous animation style. “Holli would if she could…and she will.” tells us she has sin on the mind and that she’s not the type of character to take “No” for an answer.

The trailer shows just what kind of mess the audience could expect. We start off by getting a bit of Jack Deebs’ backstory before he’s pulled into Cool World, where he finds his cartoon world existed long before he channeled it into his art. Frank warns him away from Holli but Jack ignores him and Holli makes it into the real world. We see how much mayhem she causes and how the characters start to switch back and forth from human to cartoon as the walls begin to fall.

Despite my stated affection for the movie, the trailer reinforces my notion that there’s no need to ever revisit it. You can see the clumsy filmmaking clearly here, including bad matching up of sightlines, wonky animation and more. Pitt’s performance is wooden, Byrne’s is apologetic and embarrassed. It’s hard to imagine how this would appeal to anyone or how anyone involved worked again.

The campaign is, as a whole, pretty much a mess. There’s little here that presented an appealing product to the audience, likely part of the reason it bombed at the box office. While it seems to have established itself as something of a cult hit among animation enthusiasts, it’s not being celebrated outside of those limited circles. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be the first movie I asked Pitt about if I were given the chance.

What Do Studios Have Planned for San Diego Comic-Con 2017?

An overview of the studios deigning to participate in San Diego Comic-Con this year has hit the internet. Here’s who will be making SDCC part of their movie publicity efforts:

  • 20th Century Fox: Unclear as to what movies it will be promoting, but as The Wrap points out it has plenty of X-Men films it could showcase along with talent from the Avatar sequels and more. It also has a War For the Planet of the Apes panel scheduled.
  • Sony Classics: Promoting the very odd-looking Sundance hit Brigsby Bear.
  • Warner Bros.: Will have a panel for The LEGO Ninjago Movie as well as one that hit multiple movies, including Ready Player One, Aquaman, Blade Runner 2049 and Justice League.
  • Netflix: To my recollection this is the first time the streaming service has had a Hall H panel as it looks to promote Bright, its Will Smith-starring movie about a supernatural police force.

That’s a good amount of films that will be shown off and doesn’t even include Universal’s plans to screen Atomic Blonde in advance of release. So what, if anything, can we expect to come out of this?

Yes, I concur that Fox will use SDCC to promote something relating to the X-Men. The studio just announced it has six more X-themed movies on the schedule so it’s likely they’ll use this platform to shed some more light on that, including possible titles and an actual release schedule.

Warner Bros. is the other big player and its primary panel is usually a collection of actors, clips, and announcements. I’d expect to see the Ready Player One cast on stage as I’m guessing a trailer may not be ready yet with the movie still a year or so away. Justice League, though, is just five months out. With Wonder Woman breaking box-office records my guess is there will be a new trailer revealed that heavily emphasizes that character. Superman might even move off the sidelines of toys and promotional items and finally become part of the marketing.

Aquaman, too, might be a bit far out for a trailer. But with a December 2018 release date planned this *would* fit into the pattern established by the campaigns for other WB/DC movies.

There may also be a new trailer for Bright as Netflix moves that marketing into a higher gear.

As always, we’ll have to wait and see. And there are usually smaller, non-Hall H tactics that will be employed by studios to promote upcoming releases. Details to come as they emerge.

Lady Macbeth – Marketing Review

The moniker “Lady Macbeth” is a derogatory term affixed to a woman who someone deems to be overly-ambitious and cruel in her determination to succeed. That’s based on the character from the Shakespeare play who urges her husband on to accumulate more and more power, taking out any and all threats to them. She sees his success as hers and pulls the strings.

The new movie Lady Macbeth is not based on that character or that play but the main character is no less determined to succeed. Katherine (Florence Pugh), is a young woman in 19th century England who’s been sold into marriage to Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), a man twice her age. As with many such stories, she begins an affair with a younger man who works on the estate. But this affair isn’t enough and she finds herself taking desperate action to get what she wants and take control over her own life.

The Posters

The first poster shows Pugh in period dress clutching the back of a chair and looking around as if she has some scheme or plan on her mind. A positive quote from an early review is at the top and we’re told below the title that this is based on a source novel. The movie’s festival history is toward the bottom to make it more attractive to moviegoers who are interested in such things.

Another poster took the same basic approach, just this time with a photo of Pugh sitting on a small couch. Her name is given more prominent placement at the very top, showing that there’s more of a focus on her in selling the movie. A variety of positive review quotes appear between her name and the title.

The Trailers

The first trailer starts off by showing Lady Katherine is married to a mean, heartless man who doesn’t care for her dreams or personality at all. While he’s gone she starts an affair with a local farmer who’s nothing like her husband, who’s not thrilled. The lovers take matters into their own hands, which leads to more drama in the small town and in her own home, but she remains in control of the situation at all times.

It’s great, selling a psychological thriller with a story that’s both original and recognizable. Pugh looks fantastic as the woman who decides she will not be subject to anyone else’s idea of what her fate should be and goes after what she wants. The trailer hints at plot twists that should be expected in a movie like this but it looks very enjoyable.

Online and Social

The official website opens by playing the official trailer, which is certainly worth watching again. “Trailer” is actually the first item on the content menu at the top. If you go back to “Home” you can see some full screen video featuring footage from that trailer along with the same image that’s on the poster of Katherine sitting on the couch. A series of positive quotes from early reviews rotates at the top. Farther down the page you can “Save to calendar” a reminder of when tickets are on sale in your area.

The only other content on the site aside from a link to the movie’s Facebook profile, is “Synopsis.” That offers a pretty short recap of the story along with the names of those involved.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen or am aware of here. Roadside probably did some localized advertising in the initial cities it’s playing in but that’s likely about it.

Media and Publicity

Positive buzz from a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival got things off on a good note, particularly for Pugh as her performance was pegged as being impressive. It was soon picked up by Roadside Attractions. It was later announced the movie would also head to Sundance 2017 before its eventual release.

Pugh’s performance was singled out for effusive praise and called the single best reason to see the movie. She talked in that interview about the role and how she approached while director William Oldroyd about what made her right for the part.


This is the second movie in about a month to emphasize the idea of women retaking their agency in its marketing, the first being The Beguiled last month. It shows just enough of Katherine’s motivations and actions to make it clear she’s had enough of the situation she’s been put into and is taking matters into her own hands, whatever that might entail. She will no longer be anyone’s possession but will follow her passions.

The main issue is that we’ve seen this movie before. There are countless stories in the last 10 years or so about women of the 18th or 19th century who take a lover after finding themselves married to cold or cruel men out of necessity or familial political mechanizations. There’s even one that’s supposed to come out later this year, assuming The Weinstein Co. eventually remembers it owns Tulip Fever. That’s why, I think, the press has focused so much on Pugh’s performance, because it has the potential to be the differentiating factor from those other stories and make Lady Macbeth worth seeing.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (After the Campaign Review)

One of my biggest problems with the campaign for Spider-Man: Homecoming was the presence of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark. The inclusion of that character, coming via the corporate agreement between Sony and Marvel that Spider-Man now lived in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, seemed to be the main selling point in the campaign. That wasn’t fair, I felt, to the character of Spider-Man/Peter Parker himself, who seemed to get pushed to the background in his own movie. Turns out it wasn’t fair to the audience, either.

There’s a great Spider-Man story lurking in Homecoming that is only allowed to come out when Iron Man isn’t on-screen. More specifically, there’s a great Peter Parker story here that is exponentially more interesting than either the hangdog version of the character played by Tobey Maguire or the insecure version played by Andrew Garfield. Tom Holland, playing the character in this second attempt at rebooting the franchise, nails what it is that scores of people love about Parker, especially the stories that take place when he’s still a high school student. He’s funny, loyal to his friends, loves his Aunt May (played by Marisa Tomei) without it being either weirdly guilt-ridden (Maguire) or oddly antagonistic (Garfield) and is an exemplary student at an elite New York high school. And all that while donning a costume and taking on crooks and thieves during his every spare moment.


Let’s stop a moment to address two points of contention that have been brought up repeatedly in discussions of this movie:

First, while Tomei is certainly the youngest actress to take on the role of Aunt May to date, that’s fine. She’s approximately 30 years older than Holland’s Peter, which is generationally-appropriate. Rosemary Harris was great as May in the first three movies, but I always had questions about how someone that old could still be Peter’s aunt. Sally Field in the two Garfield-starring movies was also good but still had 40 years on him. I have more issues with that pairing and what it says about how Hollywood wants guys to act way younger and women to act way older than I do with the Holland/Tomei pairing.

Second, Holland is still playing five years younger than he actually is here. The fact that Homecoming works in large part because it takes place in high school but that’s not going to last long. Not only will Holland be aging in real life, but by the time they make a sequel he’s going to be pushing 25, so will Peter still be a senior at Midtown Tech? This is the core problem with making superhero movies: In the comics it can take Dick Grayson 20 of our years to graduate college, but when you’re relying on human actors you have to be a tad more realistic.

While Tony Stark was in the movie more than I believed he would be, the marketing still included snippets from almost every scene he appears in. If his total on-screen time encompasses seven scenes that add up to 15 minutes, the trailers show clips from six of those scenes and seven minutes from those scenes. So on that front, the campaign was pretty accurate in selling the volume of Iron Man they could expect to see.

The consequence of that focus, though, is that Peter’s story was pushed almost completely to the background. There are a few scenes of him interacting with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon, who steals his scenes) and the other students at Midtown Tech and definitely enough to give you the idea that Peter is a brilliant kid who crushes on the cute girls but who’s bored of living his conventional life. That’s the extent of it, though. There’s nothing in the campaign to show anything beyond him wanting to be an Avengers-level superhero.

That’s very different from what’s presented in the movie. The character growth may not be huge, and Peter spends a lot of time talking about wanting to be an Avenger or trying to get in touch with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). But there’s also a much more depth to his relationships with Ned and the rest of the students, as well as with May, who’s barely seen in the marketing. Holland is fun and loose as Parker and that makes the character more appealing than he’s ever been on screen. Also helping is the jettisoning of much of the traditional Spider-Man mythology, including Uncle Ben’s death, the “with great power…” theme and more. All of that suddenly seems like a weight that kept the character down.

Also helping the movie move along is Michael Keaton as the primary bad guy, Adrian Toomes/The Vulture. His character arc through the movie takes him from disgruntled city contractor to all-out super villain in a surprisingly believable way. Keaton brings his own personal brand of gravitas and grit to the performance, helping us to sympathize with the villain even as we hope Spider-Man takes him down. There’s a moment near the end where the Keaton of Mr. Mom and My Life shows up. He’s charming and funny and as welcoming and friendly as can be. Then, when things take a turn, the Keaton of Pacific Heights and The Merry Gentleman appears and we remember that as funny as he can be, Keaton can also be terrifying.

All told, the campaign does nothing to mislead the audience, specifically in this case about how much of Iron Man to expect. But while that might be fine, it does the movie a disservice by not fully showcasing how charming and fun Holland is as Spider-Man/Peter Parker and the compelling story featuring *that* character that is here as well.

Picking Up the Spare: Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, A Ghost Story

Despicable Me 3

  • Universal/Illumination not only sponsored selfie lenses on Snapchat but also were the first advertisers to take advantage of that app’s new “World Lenses” augmented-reality ad unit.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

  • Turns out this is the latest movie to feature lots of shots from the trailer not making it into the finished film. There are various reasons for that, some of them around how shots were created just for the trailers or various sizzle reels, which walks right up to the line of “false advertising” in my opinions.
  • Some details here on how Donald Glover finally got involved in a Spider-Man movie (aside from that one “Community” gag) and what it might mean for future films.
  • Nerdist has an exclusive look at one more poster, this one inspired by the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15, with Spidey carrying one of the crooks from the movie.
  • The augmented reality feature of the movie’s official mobile app was covered in-depth here.

A Ghost Story

  • The internet’s big takeaway from this interview with A Ghost Story star Rooney Mara? That she’d never had pie before shooting the movie.
  • The store A24 setup to sell sheets in New York City got more coverage in the LA Times from Steven Zeitchik.

Baby Driver

  • Director Edgar Wright got one more music-themed promotional move in, this time creating a Spotify playlist of what he’s listening to now.