The Glass Castle – Marketing Recap

Based on Jeanette Walls’ memoir of the same name, The Glass Castle hits theaters this weekend. The movie follows Walls beginning in early childhood as she and her sisters are constantly being moved around from one unusual environment to the next by their unconventional parents Rex (Woody Harrelson) and Rose Mary (Naomi Watts). The two believe they are giving their children something unique, teaching them to be self-reliant and not lead conventional lives.

Adult Jeanette (Brie Larson) doesn’t remember those years quite as fondly. Now settled into a successful career and comfortable life in New York, she once more has to deal with the emotional baggage heaped on her by her parents and the scars they’ve left behind. It’s not all negative, though, as she also realizes they did what they could and if nothing else gave her and her sisters a passion for life.

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The Trip to Spain – Marketing Recap

It’s hard to believe that an unassuming, largely unscripted movie that started out as a BBC mini-series about two frenemies eating good food across Great Britain would spawn a legitimate comedic franchise. But that’s where we are as we look to this week’s release of The Trip To Spain.

Once more Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, both playing slightly fictionalized versions of themselves, are pairing up and heading out for a road trip. After first tackling England and then Italy, they now take their bit to Spain. Once more Coogan has been asked to review restaurants as part of the publicity for an upcoming movie and recruits Brydon into that trip. And so they set out for long drives, incredible food and conversations that include their careers, sniping at each other in a (mostly) friendly way and sharing their dueling impressions of other celebrities.

The Posters

The poster doesn’t do a whole lot, but it doesn’t need to. Coogan and Brydon are shown at a big oak table with a handful of exquisitely-crafted food dishes in front of them, Brydon pouring a bottle of wine. That’s it, that’s the entire premise and the entire message that needs to be sent to the audience. There’s a quote at the top that praises the movie and copy making it clear “The two amigos are back” but otherwise the image of the pair is all we really need.

The Trailers

The first teaser didn’t show much but it presented everything audiences might be wondering about. It’s just Brydon and Coogan in a car driving along the Spanish coast while beatboxing and freestyle singing. That’s it. There are some title cards that place this in the context of the first two movies as well as positive pull quotes from critics, but that’s about it.

The first official trailer starts off by immediately setting the premise, which is that Coogan wants Brydon to engage in a trip to Spain. We see them engaging in their usual banter, including their dueling impressions, as they eat incredible food against amazing backdrops.

What else needs to be said? It’s fantastic, promising just what we love about this series of movies only in a different section of the world. Perfect.

Online and Social

Not much on the web for the movie. IFC has a page on its site that has a synopsis, the cast and crew list and the studio gave the movie some promotion on its own social channels but that’s about it.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve come across. It’s likely there’s been some advertising done overseas for the BBC series, but I don’t think anything happened on the paid front in the U.S.

Media and Publicity

The studio knew exactly what it was doing, starting off the campaign by releasing a clip featuring Brydon and Coogan doing impressions, including another excuse to do their dueling Michael Caines.

The movie was one of those announced as screening at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. There doesn’t appear to have been a big round of press or anything else, though, meaning the studio is relying mostly on word of mouth and familiarity with the first two movies to get people motivated.


It’s absolutely understandable that this marketing campaign doesn’t rise to the level of other summer releases. It’s about as small-scale as a film can be, with just two stars that U.S. audiences will mostly tag as “Oh, that guy who died in the opening 10 minutes of Tropic Thunder” and “The other one.” The story revolves completely around food and conversation and, if the previous two movies are indicative, very low stakes.

But it succeeds by very specifically telling the audiences that have enjoyed those other two movies that this is more of the same, just slightly evolved. The premise is the same but the characters have changed a bit since we first met them. Not so much, though, that we’re not going to get more cracks about Coogan needing the best room and making his career seem bigger than it actually is. And Brydon will be there insisting his impressions are better and more than happy to take his friend down a peg. That’s the formula that’s worked so far, so the existing fanbase is being told it won’t be tinkered with too much here.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Goes 80s for Home Video Campaign

OK, this Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 music video with David Hasselhoff is kind of goofy. But I don’t get the sudden 1980s-themed campaign being taken in selling the movie’s home video release. It’s not just this video, a few weeks ago Marvel Studios released a commercial for the release that looks like an old-fashioned infomercial that looks like the kind of thing that would air at 2 am on basic cable.

The approach strikes me as odd because it’s so out of left field when measured against the movie’s theatrical marketing campaign. There was nothing there that harkened back particularly strongly to the eras of the Reagan or Clinton presidencies. Nor was there anything in the movie itself that really provided a strong nostalgic hook to those decades. The music of the soundtrack that was such a big part of the campaign was pulled more from the 70s than anything else. The running gag about Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) believing as a child that Hasselhoff was his father is about the only overt nod in that direction.

So what’s behind this unusual and out-of-context direction for the home video release? It may simply come down to doing something to break through the media clutter. Goofy videos with grainy footage and a mugging star best known for talking to his car and rescuing people off a beach will get the internet’s attention. That attention translates into sharing by individuals and coverage in trade press and fan sites, all of which aides awareness that the home video is about to drop, which hopefully translates into sales.

Notably, it’s not impacting how the actual disc is being sold. The cover for the DVD/Blu-ray/digital combo pack uses a variation on the established key art from theatrical campaign. It’s not quite exactly what was used on the posters, but it pulls different elements from different versions of that campaign and mashes them together.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun little campaign Marvel Studios has put together here. But it’s way out of the lane established in the lead up to theatrical release and so comes off as a bit off-brand. The studio obviously wanted to do something unique, though, and it’s got enough press coverage to call the campaign a success.

The Founder (After the Campaign Movie Review)

When I reviewed the marketing of The Founder earlier this year I wasn’t all that impressed with the scope of the campaign. It sold a fairly standard biopic about someone many people may not know a lot about but certainly had been impacted by. The main draw, and the focal point of the campaign, was star Michael Keaton, still in the midst of a post-Birdman career resurgence.

In the movie Keaton plays Ray Kroc, who we first meet when he’s a struggling salesman hawking milkshake machines to drive-ins in the years following World War II. It’s the latest, we find, in a series of products and schemes he’s engaged in to make a buck and be something more in his life. He happens across a growing burger stand in California called McDonald’s, owned and operated by brothers Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch). Kroc falls in love with the efficiency of their operation. While Dick and Mac are reluctant, Kroc convinces them to partner with him to franchise their concept across the country. Thus is born the McDonald’s empire we know today, though many of Kroc’s tactics are less than exemplary, particularly when it comes to his relationship with the founding brothers.

The campaign didn’t promise anything too innovative in terms of story or filmmaking. What it did promise was the story behind the institution that’s now part of the daily lives of most all Americans as well as people worldwide. Even if you don’t eat at McDonald’s with any regularity, it’s part of the landscape of the country, seen in every town and city regardless of size and promising a hot, reliably consistent meal as you’re traveling down most interstate highways.

That’s what it more or less delivers. The movie isn’t going to blow you away with the visuals and the biopic format doesn’t allow for much in the way of flexibility, instead keeping the story moving along certain lines that promise to hit particular milestones and amp up the drama to keep the audience engaged.

So it’s good that the marketing’s core message was not just about airing Kroc’s dirty laundry but about selling Keaton’s performance. He’s just as dynamic and entrancing an actor as he was in Gung Ho, Beetlejuice and other movies that let him use his entire body to comedic effect. Now he’s more subdued but no less electric. Even in a montage showing him recruiting franchisees at VFW halls and PTA meetings, he crackles with energy that fills the screen. Just as I thought after seeing him in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Keaton makes the most of every scene not by chewing scenery as some actors do, but by confining the energy of those bigger performances within his own body, like a balloon you’re watching being stretched to its limits.

If you’re curious as to how McDonald’s grew to be McDonald’s, The Founder presents a good insight into the beginnings of a massive corporation that, as the ending states, now feeds 1% of the world’s population daily. That story may not be completely engaging all the time, but Keaton brings his A-game to his performance as Kroc, providing the biggest reason to see the movie.

Only Living Boy in New York City – Marketing Recap

Get ready for a healthy dose of white upper-class angst with The Only Living Boy In New York City. Directed by Marc Webb, the story follows Thomas Webb (Callum Turner), a young man who has graduated college but doesn’t know what he’s going to do with his life. Fortunately, he has wealthy parents (played by Pierce Brosnan and Cynthia Nixon), so is in a place where he can amble about a bit.

That ambling includes receiving advice from his neighbor W.F. (Jeff Bridges), an aging frustrated writer who Thomas befriends. Things get complicated not only because of the romantic pressure from Thomas’ girlfriend Mimi (Kersey Clemons) but also the discovery his father is having an affair with a woman named Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). Not just that, but Thomas eventually becomes involved with Johanna himself, causing further problems.

The Posters

The first poster is simple, establishing at least one of the movie’s relationships. We see Turner and Beckinsale kissing passionately while up against a white wall that looks like something you’d find in a high-end art gallery or other establishments. No copy fleshes out or further explains the story, just the cast list.

The Trailers

The first trailer opens up by immediately showing us we’re in the world of well-off, highly literate New York society. Thomas meets his new neighbor and we see he’s having issues with his girlfriend. A night out leads to him seeing his father out with another woman and he begins following her. That develops into a complicated flirtation between the two of them. Thomas is getting life advice from W.F., in some sort of relationship with Johanna, on the outs with his girlfriend Mimi and hiding what he knows from his father, all of which leads to lots of conflicted feelings and problems.

It looks like a decent story but it also certainly looks like yet another entry in the existential angst of the New York white upper class. It’s a Noah Baumbach movie as directed by Marc Webb. There’s nothing wrong with that but it also is ground that’s been well-trod over the years so it’s curious to see what, if any, new this one has to say.

Online and Social

The official website immediately plays the trailer in full-screen video, and “Video” is the second of the content sections in the menu at the top of the page. If you click over to “Home,” it has a version of the key art along with a prompt to save the release date to your calendar and links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles. The only other section on the site is a “Synopsis” that gives a decent overview of the story and the relationships between the various characters.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve been aware of or seen.

Media and Publicity

Beckinsale and Bridges have, at least to date, handled most of the publicity efforts, appearing on some of the late night talk shows to talk about the movie and do the usual joking around. There was also a feature on Webb where he talked about making the movie and the New York setting of the story.


Just as I thought the marketing of Fun Mom Dinner might be hurt by the recent influx of movies about women cutting loose, I think the marketing of The Only Living Boy In New York City will be hurt by it being the 748th movie in the last two years about wealthy white people suffering a lack of direction while still having the financial means to wander about drinking high-end scotch and pondering what it all means. I don’t think we can go more than three weeks without a story like this hitting theaters, meaning the marketing needs to present a clear differentiating value proposition to stand out from the crowd.

There’s no such hook in the campaign here. The studio seems to think the relationship between Thomas and his father’s mistress checks that box, but it’s not enough. There’s too much ground being covered here that’s not only familiar but which is out of touch with the reality of the country at this point, where the wealthy 1% are still not beloved by most people. These aren’t characters we can relate to and the story isn’t outlandish enough to be seen as soap opera-like. We’ve pretty much seen this movie before and the campaign doesn’t offer anything unique or innovative enough to stand out from the crowd.

Picking Up the Spare: Detroit, Atomic Blonde


  • I don’t necessarily agree with Seth Abrmovitch at THR in his assessment that the movie’s marketing played like a horror film. Tense, sure, but I think equating this to a horror campaign says more about the lack of mature-audience dramas than anything else.
  • Finding songs for the movie’s soundtrack proved quite the challenge, it seems, as producers and others researched music that would fit but wasn’t already overplayed.

Atomic Blonde

  • Also on the soundtrack front, seems assembling an album for this movie was action-packed as they sought songs that would fit the time and mood but also work within the budget for licensing.

New Trailers This Week: mother!, Death Wish and More

  • There’s a full trailer coming early next week, but for the time being here’s a teaser for mother!
  • The trailer for What Happened To Monday sells a high-concept, action-packed sci-fi story.
  • Religious division and sectarianism are at the heart of this trailer for Viceroy’s House, set at the outset of Indian independence from the British Empire.
  • One more trailer for The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which is just as lighthearted and focused on curse words and over-the-top as the others.
  • More religious turmoil, this time in the setting of a convent during Vatican II, in the trailer for Novitiate.
  • The trailer for Death Wish is goofy enough but gets docked several points for including Mancow.

Plot Pitch: 5 Things That Need To Be In David F. Sandberg’s Shazam!

Warner Bros. recently announced that David F. Sandberg, of Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation fame, would be directing a Shazam! movie for DC Films as part of their Extended Universe. It was also announced that it would be the next DC film going into production and that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would not be playing Black Adam in the movie as previously expected. So with that in mind, what elements need to be in the film? Here are five things that Warner Bros. needs to get right in order to make a successful Shazam feature.

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1. Magic Kingdom

The character of Shazam has always been tied to magic one way or another. By keeping the magical aspects of the character in the film, there is a lot of opportunity for Sandberg and co. to do some major world building that will help differentiate Shazam! from other films in the DCEU.

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2. No Crossovers

One thing that made Wonder Woman so much better than Batman v. Superman was that it didn’t worry about trying to fit in so many characters from the DC Universe. It was able to stand on its own as its own superhero movie without having to be confined to a certain continuity or a certain tone. It was able to define itself as its own film without needing to adhere to the same tone as Man of Steel and BvS. If Shazam! follows Wonder Woman’s lead, it can define itself as its own great film and break out of the box of the DCEU.

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3. Large Cast of Characters

One thing that the Shazam mythos relies on is the many allies and friends that Shazam has. Introducing these characters into the film would allow for some added drama in the film, and would also make for some interesting stories for any feature films. What works so well in the comic book source material is the occasional tension between Shazam’s supporting characters that provides some drama beyond just the hero fighting a handful of villains. That said…

Image result for dc comics shazam villains

4. Don’t Worry About the Villains

Although Shazam has always had a fairly large rogues gallery, his villains have never been the focus of the comics the film will be based on. If Warner’s doesn’t shoehorn a bunch of villains into the movie, they can give the story of Billy Batson some room to breathe. Which brings us to…

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5. Pure Imagination

The greatest part of the Shazam story is the story of Billy Batson. At the beginning of his story, Billy is an orphan in the foster care system who just wants to turn 18 so that he never has to live in a foster home again. He hates bullies; he wants to stand up for the little guy; he wants to find his real family; but he’s not particularly nice to the people trying to help him, especially his new foster family. Then, one day, he gets to fulfill the dream that every child imagines: he gets magic powers and becomes a superhero. He is finally able to stand up for the little guy; he is finally able to fight the bullies he so deeply hates. And over the course of his adventures, he discovers the true meaning of family: family is what it can be, not what it should be. These elements of Shazam are essential to the movie. Without the heart and hope and wish fulfillment aspects of Shazam, the movie just wouldn’t be the same.

Those are our top 5 things that need to be in the Shazam movie. Did we miss anything? If you’ve got your own item you want to add, feel free to add your own comment to this post.

Okja (After the Campaign Movie Review)

Netflix’s campaign for Okja, from director Bong Joon Ho, was pretty substantial when compared to some of the other efforts from the streaming company and nascent distributor. There were two trailers, a handful of posters and a decent press push that included a controversial screening at Cannes. All of that was to support a prestige movie the company hoped would raise its profile among filmmakers as well as attract new subscribers.

The movie’s story follows Mija, a young girl growing up on a farm in the remote mountains of South Korea. For the last 10 years that life has included caring for a super-pig named Okja, a massive but gentle beast with whom Mija spends most of her time. When the multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja, Mija sets out to rescue her pet, along the way encountering a group of peace-loving animal liberators, an over-the-top wildlife program host, and other colorful characters. Some want to help, some not. The only thing that matters to Mija is finding Okja.

The marketing was a bit inconsistent in tone, with trailers selling it as if it were akin to Pete’s Dragon or something, a tender story of a child’s love for an unusual pet. Sure there was a bit of tension and some exciting chase scenes on display, but those were tempered by healthy doses of whimsy. The posters, on the other hand, along with some notable in-world promotions, presented the movie more as the tale of corporate greed, a cautionary tale of the dangers of the industrial food system.

It’s surprising to find, then, that the movie itself is all of that. It’s both a touching story of a girl and her super-pig and an indictment of the companies that control our food supply and who are concerned only with public image and profits generation. So it’s not that the movie was ever sold poorly or inaccurately, it’s that with so much going on tonally it’s hard to convey all of that in the limited space Netflix provided. Add another poster and another trailer and you have more room to dive deeper into the different aspects of the movie and sell all that to the audience.

Here I’d like to turn the spotlight to Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Johnny Wilcox, a self-aggrandizing host of nature specials and who now works for Mirando. Gyllenhaal gives a performance that’s so over-the-top and captivating I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it in quite some time. Every scene is so BIG as he flails his arms, squeaks his voice and flop sweats to dominate the frame as much as possible. By contrast, Tilda Swinton’s performance as Lucy Mirando (and her twin sister Nancy), which is at times outlandishly cartoonish, is downright restrained and subdued.

If I were to take issue with one aspect of the campaign, it’s that it misrepresents a premise that’s at the core of the story, specifically Okja’s past. It’s not a huge problem, but the marketing gives an impression of the creature’s history and the circumstances under which he’s taken from Mija by the Mirando Corporation that’s not accurate to the story. That winds up being important because the ending of the film is as gut-wrenching and disturbing as any documentary you could watch about slaughterhouses and industrial beef farms.

Okja isn’t an easy film to watch and may not be as consistently great at Ho’s previous Snowpiercer but is still recommended. Just make sure the dinner you’ve enjoyed before or will be eating later is just a salad.

Kathryn Bigelow – Director Overview

It’s kind of surprising, but this week’s Detroit is the first movie Kathryn Bigelow has directed in five years. In an era where random dudes are being pulled from single-camera TV comedies and lining up seven movies over five years out of the gate, that Bigelow has often gone three years or more between movies seems notable.

It’s even more surprising considering the consistent high quality of the movies she’s helmed. While not all of these have gone on to be considered cinematic classics, they almost uniformly are really good movies, largely due to her influence. So with Detroit in theaters now, it’s a good time to look back at her previous efforts to see how the trailers for each has sold the movie to audiences.

Near Dark (1987)

Near Dark would fit so well in today’s cinematic marketplace I’m honestly surprised there hasn’t been a feature or TV remake. The story revolves around Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar), who becomes part of a group of traveling vampires after meeting – and being bit by – the lovely Mae (Jenny Wright). Things get complicated due to the presence of the violent Severen (the late Bill Paxton) and the protective leader of the group Hooker (Lance Henriksen).

The trailer for this 1987 drama, Bigelow’s second movie, surprisingly doesn’t play up the vampire aspect of the story to much. There’s plenty of talk, either in the dialogue of the characters or in the narration, about how nighttime is the most dangerous and that daylight will be much safer, but vampirism isn’t mentioned explicitly. Instead the activities of the gang are presented mostly as just psychopathic, people who just enjoy violence and want to see if the new recruit will pull his weight.

Blue Steel (1990)

Let’s all fondly remember the 80s and early 90s, when Jamie Lee Curtis was a dependable and powerful leading lady, capable of being funny in ensembles or leading dramas on her own. Blue Steel falls into the latter category, with Curtis starring as a rookie cop who is suspended after the questionable shooting of someone holding up a grocery store. Through a series of circumstances, she becomes involved with a stock trader (Ron Silver) who winds up being at the heart of a mystery Curtis’ Megan Turner is investigating.

As the trailer starts we get the backstory that she’s being suspended after the shooting that no one can corroborate was justified. We see that incident and see Silver’s Hunt take her gun, which is part of the problem. It then goes on to show that he uses that gun to go on a killing spree of his own, with the complication being that he and Turner used to date. It’s selling a story of violent obsession and is tense and pulse-pounding.

Point Break (1991)

I think we all know the story of Point Break, which features Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah, a cop who goes undercover to break up a gang of thieves led by Bodhi (Patrick Swayze). This is no ordinary gang, though, as they’re all involved in extreme sports such as surfing, skydiving and more. So in order to fully become accepted by Bodhi and his crew, Utah has to become just as good as them. the two bond, making Utah’s betrayal that much more emotionally impactful.

Reeves is certainly the focal point of the trailer. We get the background of The Ex Presidents (the name the gang as adopted due to their habit of wearing masks of former presidents during their heists), and see how committed they are to not only crime but sports. Likewise, we watch as Utah is given his assignment and begins to become part of the surfing and sporting lifestyle. There’s not a whole lot here about the brotherhood that forms between the cop and the criminal, showing the main appeal in 1991 was deemed to be the presence and personalities of Reeves and Swayze.

Strange Days (1995)

Bigelow’s 1995 movie Strange Days took advantage of the emerging presence of the web and increased interest in the cyberpunk works of William Gibson and others. Set just four years out in 1999, the story follows ex-cop Lenny (Ralph Fiennes), who now deals in black market discs of people’s personalities and emotions that others can plug into their own cybernetic implants and experience for themselves. He gets pulled even deeper into the underworld when he receives a disc containing the memories of a murderer and is motivated to investigate it for himself.


“Have you ever jacked in?” Nero asks as the trailer begins. It’s explained that experiencing someone else’s memories and emotions is better than TV, better than any kind of artificial high. We see the setting is the last day of 1999 and that Nero has started getting disks he’s not comfortable with from someone he doesn’t know. The violence increases as police, criminals and others all come after the tape for their own reasons, all set against the backdrop of the dark days when the world might end when the clock strikes midnight.

The Weight of Water (2000)

Jean (Catherine McCormack) is a newspaper photographer who travels with her husband Thomas (Sean Penn) and others to New Hampshire as part of her research into the murder of two women in 1873. Tensions arise as Thomas openly flirts with Adaline (Elizabeth Hurley), one of their companions. Meanwhile Jean becomes increasingly convinced that the century-old murders were not committed by the man who was ultimately hanged for them but by a third woman exacting revenge for that man’s failure to requite her love.

As the trailer starts we see the two couples in present day setting out on a boat for some time at sea. There’s some setup that Jean has come to investigate the murders, accompanied by her husband, brother-in-law and his wife (Adaline). Scenes, and narration, about the simmering desires and tensions aboard the boat are intercut with scenes pulled from the past of the trial that followed the murders and it’s clear there are parallels between the two stories. Again, this is all about building up the tension to the point where the audience can’t wait to find out what happens next.

K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)

Bigelow started to expand the scope of the stories she told with K-19: The Widowmaker. In the movie, Harrison Ford plays the captain of a Russian nuclear submarine on its maiden voyage in 1961, the height of the Cold War. The nuclear plant that powers the sub experiences a catastrophic failure on that voyage, one that could not only destroy the ship and kill its crew but be interpreted as a sign of war that could have worldwide repercussions.

We meet Ford’s Captain Vostroikov as the trailer opens and see that he’s being given a mission to command a sub not just as a demonstration of Russia’s power but a response to perceived U.S. provocation. Various events, including contact with an American sub, create tensions between Vostroikov and a political officer played by Liam Neeson. The narration tells us it’s based on an “astonishing true story” as the reactor meltdown occurs, leading the captain to make impossible decisions to save his boat and his crew and prevent all-out war.

The Hurt Locker (2008)

If Bigelow wasn’t a household name before 2008, she was when she directed The Hurt Locker. We meet Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) as he arrives in Iraq to help disarm bombs. The story follows not just James but others in his crew as they all deal with the psychological impact of living in a war zone. James’ methods are a bit off-book, which brings him into conflict with others in the squad, including Sgt. Sanborn, played by Anthony Mackie.

The trailer starts just as James arrives in Iraq and begins to acquaint himself with his new deployment. We watch as he takes off his protective gear to deal with one particular bomb, a move the others question. It’s clear his unorthodox methods aren’t always appreciated by those who depend on him to save their lives. Still, they all bond as they all know they’re working toward the same end and devoted to the same mission. It ends with shots of James’ personal life and family, showing the emotional stake he has in surviving each and every task he’s sent out on.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Staying in the political and military realm, Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker, for which she won a Best Director Academy Award, was Zero Dark Thirty. This time the focus was on Maya, a fictional CIA analyst played by Jessica Chastain who’s been tasked with finding Osama bin Laden in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Beginning in 2003, the story follows Maya as she uses every method available to her to turn sources, decipher intercepted communications and more to bring justice to bin Laden.

There are lots of hijab and guns and more as the trailer opens, accompanied by comments from an interrogator about how he’s not a nice guy. We meet Maya and we see how dedicated she is to her job and how good she is at doing it, though it’s often frustrating. 10 years go by and she’s still at it, culminating with a mission to find bin Laden that not everyone in the agency is convinced will work. It ends with the SEAL team opening a remote house in the desert, presumably on the raid that would ultimately take down the terrorist leader.

While Bigelow has focused, particularly in the last 10 years, on political stories (including Detroit), the common theme throughout her work is tension. Sometimes that’s on a boat of people with evolving relationships, sometimes it’s in an RV full of vampires, sometimes it’s in a bomb disposal unit deployed to Iraq. The marketing of her movies has worked to highlight not just the action but the relationships between those involved, with all of creating pulse-pounding moments that the audience is asked to invest in.