the green knight – marketing recap

How A24 sold an adaptation of an epic – and convoluted – story.

(ed note: This should have been published last week, but life got in the way. Let’s move on…)

For a good long while it seemed like there was no movie film critics were more anticipating than director David Lowery’s adaptation of a 14th-century poem, The Green Knight. The movie, in theaters now after long Covid-related delays, stars Dev Patel as Sir Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur who enjoys the leisurely life instead of going out and making a name for himself with acts of heroism and bravery. When his mother summons the mysterious Green Knight to help him become the man he should be, it sets in motion a series of events that will send Gawain on a quest where his fate is uncertain.

The movie, which also stars Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton and others, has an impressive 90% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. While the campaign has been stop-and-start because of the aforementioned delays, it has also been consistent in selling a fantasy journey even if the story hasn’t always been clear to the casual viewer.

The Posters

Just one poster (by marketing agency BOND) got out last February before the release was delayed. It shows a crowned Gawain from beyond, his head in stark contrast to the bright red background. Copy along both sides reads “When honor was everything. When courage made kings.” Both those help setup the story and setting while hiding the main character’s face helps to establish the character more than the actor.

The same design was used on a series of character posters released over a year later, in early May of this year. These showed the Lord, Lady and The Green Knight himself and playfully acknowledged the long delay with copy reading “One year hence”, which also ties into the story.

Gawane got his own poster that actually shows his face around the same time.

He stands seemingly triumphant – or at least defiant – on the final poster from mid-June.

The Trailers

We’re introduced to Gawain in the first trailer (5.6m views on YouTube) from February 2020 as someone who is out to prove himself and achieve greatness. To do that he will set out on an adventure that is fraught with danger, shown here as visions of terrible outcomes and fates that might befall him. All of that is communicated through the imagery of storytelling, specifically the kind of puppet show used to entertain children. It’s creepy, trippy and more than a little intriguing.

With the delays to the movie’s release it wasn’t until May 2021 that the second trailer (14m views on YouTube) came out. This one sells a much different story, one that is centered on Gawain’s quest to slay a creature he had faced before but which promised they would meet again one year later. That quest means he’s facing plenty of peril, has to rely on uncertain allies and is otherwise in a lot of danger.

Online and Social

You’ll find only basic information on A24’s page for the movie, but the social updates, both on a standalone profile and the studio’s, offered more context and background.

Advertising, Publicity and Promotions

While a premiere screening was initially announced for SXSW, when that festival was cancelled those plans were understandably thrown out the window. Lowery later admitted making that premiere date would have been difficult, but he also remained unsure at the time if the movie would get a theatrical release or eventually go straight to streaming or VOD.

A24 wound up punting the movie’s theatrical release date indefinitely in May, 2020.

While a new date was pending, the studio announced The Green Knight: A Quest for Honor, a tabletop game with a story set in the same world as the film. A promotional video showed off some of the game play.

A new release date was finally announced in March, with the movie scheduled to hit theaters almost exactly a year after it was originally intended to.

In late June a video was released with Ralph Ineson narrating a recap of the history of the epic poem the movie is based on as well as an overview of the story, though it’s still somewhat confusing.

Promos such as this began airing and running in mid-July. They didn’t offer much in the way of story, but continued to create a sense of mystery about the movie’s story. More traditional spots came out a bit later.

IGN debuted an exclusive clip of King Arthur asking his court for a good story of great deeds before the Green Knight himself comes in to interrupt the proceedings.

An exclusive clip at Fandango MovieClips picks up where the IGN clip left off, The Green Knight’s challenge being read aloud in King Arthor’s court.

Another clip shows the kind of life Gawain is leading before his fate catches up with him.

Just as the finish line seemed in view, news broke just last week that the release had been pulled from U.K. theaters. ‘

How Lowery filmed a key sequence in the film and how he subsequently refined it over the extended period afforded by the pandemic-related delays, was covered in an interview with the director.

Patel got the full profile treatment here, including how he’s been very selective about his roles over the course of his career.

Another interview with Lowery had the director talking about how he became aware of the source material, how he cast Patel and more.

Overall

Once the campaign got going a couple months ago it became a lot of fun. Until that point it was a tad on the dense and somewhat confusing side, not terribly so but certainly enough that casual fans might have given up on it.

In that way it presented one of the biggest challenges of all the films delayed during the pandemic. Not being part of a franchise or series meant there weren’t those easy hooks to hang audience interest on, so it couldn’t rely on a slow drip of word of mouth and press coverage.

On the whole it surmounted that challenge nicely, but likely without gaining much and who knows how much of the potential target audience from February 2020 is willing to head to the theater right now. Whatever the movie’s fate, though, the marketing can’t be blamed, especially when you put the mystery and tone created in the early elements in the context of Lowery’s career.

zola – marketing recap

How A24 has sold a buzzy new film with social media roots.

Several years ago there was a small wave of books and TV shows based on — or at least inspired by — Twitter or other social media threads. This week there’s finally a feature film that can claim the same pedigree.

Zola stars Taylour Paige in the title role of a woman who meets and almost immediately agrees to go on a road trip to Florida with Stefani (Riley Keough). The two have it in mind to dance in strip clubs and make a bunch of money in a short while. But the trip turns out to be a lot more wild and violent than Zola bargained for as she also has to deal with Stefani’s boyfriend Derrek (Nicholas Braun) and pimp X (Colman Domingo).

It’s been six years since the real life Aziah “Zola” King posted her 148 update long Twitter thread, but the buzz around the movie, which currently sports a solid 88% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, is still palpable.

The Posters

The first poster (by marketing agency P+A) came out in March of this year and sports an appropriately Instagram-esque look. Zola and Stefani are featured in front of a bright background, the multiple exposures creating a sense there are many versions of the characters.

The second posters, released in May, offers the same idea but with the camera shifted slightly. “Wanna hear a story” nods nicely to the movie’s origins as a story told on Twitter.

The Trailers

Further details on release plans didn’t come with it, but a brief teaser was released in early August of last year

It wasn’t until March of this year that the first full trailer (894,000 views on YouTube) came out. As it begins, Zola and Stefani are planning a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Florida with the promise of making a whole lot of money stripping. Once they’re there, Stefani seems to take it to an extreme, leaving Zola to pick up the pieces and deal with her craziness.

Online and Social

No standalone website for the movie but there were social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Giphy.

Advertising, Press and Promotions

Sundance 2020 was slated to be the movie’s premiere venue, with the cast and crew in attendance. A24 acquired distribution rights just as the festival was kicking off and reactions were generally positive from those in attendance.

Director Janicza Bravo was interviewed along with others involved in the film about how they developed the story and characters, turning a bunch of Tweets into a full-fledged movie.

At Sundance Bravo was interviewed again about how they crafted a story out of a Twitter thread, how she wasn’t worried about most anyone’s potential reaction to the film and more. There was also an interview with the person whose Twitter story has been adapted here. The movie’s editor spoke about similar topics.

As the campaign ramped up in 2021, IMDb shared a set of exclusive stills from the film.

Paige and Keough attended the MTV Movie Awards in May.

An interview with Colman had him talking about this movie in particular but also other upcoming films he’s in and more.

In June it was added to this year’s Sundance Film Festival: London lineup.

An interview with Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris, who cowrote the screenplay with Bravo, had them talking about the challenges of turning a viral social media incident into a feature film and the process the two went through to make that happen. That was also the focus of a later profile of Bravo on her own.

Of course there were profiles of the real Zola that looked back on the legacy of her viral thread as well as the surreal nature of seeing a movie based on her experiences. In fact A24 went so far as to turn that thread into a collectible print book, with promotions running for anyone interested in owning a bit of internet ephemera.

Paige was interviewed about how she connected with the character of Zola when she was presented with the project. She and Keough were interviewed together about the craziness of the story as well as the off-screen friendship that resulted from the production.

Talk show appearances included Colman on “The Tamron Hall Show”, Keough on “The Tonight Show”

Later interviews with Bravo had her talking about the movie influences she pulled from in crafting the film and more. She was also part of a profile of Keough focused on the actress’s commitment to the insanity of the story. Those two were then joined by Paige for this look at the movie’s journey over the last couple years.

Bravo on her own talked more about creating more opportunities for black filmmakers and how hard she worked to make the story happen.

Additional interviews with Paige included how she has some experience with seeing exotic dancing/stripping as a potential income source and how she actually went ahead and did so as part of her research for this role. Meanwhile Keough talked about finding the empathy in her character even though she found her “offensive” in many ways.

A special screening was held in Atlanta that included a Q&A with the cast and crew.

Overall

It’s a bright, fast-paced campaign that seems, much like the movie purports to be, very much rooted in the world of social media. Everything in the trailers seems GIF-able (and it largely was), the poster looks like an elaborately-staged Instagram pic from an influencer and even the social media promotions seem to speak native internet in a way many campaigns can’t manage.

More than all that, the movie may benefit from all the buzz that’s built up with critics and others calling it one of the year’s best films, if not the best to date.

This Is Messy Riley Keough GIF by A24 - Find & Share on GIPHY

On the Rocks – Marketing Recap

How A24 and Apple TV+ have sold a comedic drama about coming to terms with yourself.

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, On The Rocks received a limited theatrical release earlier this month and this week comes to Apple TV+.. The movie stars Rashida Jones as Laura, a woman who has begun to question her relationship with her husband Dean (Marlon Wayons), feeling oddly detached from him and beginning to worry he’s having an affair. While Dean is out of town, Laura takes the opportunity to reconnect with her playboy father Felix (Bill Murray) in the hopes that getting to know him a bit better will offer insights into her own issues.

Between Coppola and the cast, the film is one of the first high profile releases from the partnership between A24 and Apple TV+. With that pedigree, it’s been sold as a breezy character piece filled with plenty of walking and talking through the streets and restaurants of New York City. Reviews to date have been largely positive, earning it an 87% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Posters

The primary selling point – the pairing of Jones and Murray in a Sofia Coppola joint – is communicated loud and clear on the one poster, released in late August. The two actors are shown in the booth of a nice restaurant. There’s not a whole lot of visual style to the design since it’s just a photo, nor is there a lot of extra information added, so the studio really is counting on the popularity of those two stars to get people’s attention.

The Trailers

It’s clear, from August’s first trailer (1 million views on YouTube), that Felix and Laura have a complicated father/daughter relationship, but that they’re trying to make it work. That’s made slightly more difficult by the fact that her husband is engaging in the same kind of sketchy behavior Felix did when Laura was younger and which led in part to the estrangement. Still, Felix is protective of her and the pair embark on an adventure to not only find out what’s happening but also reconnect with each other.

Online and Social

You’ll only find the very basic information and marketing material on the film’s website.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

News that A24 had partnered with Apple for the production of original films came out in late 2018, but the specifics weren’t revealed until the middle of January, when it was announced the film would reteam the Lost in Translation duo of Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray.

Conversations about the movie potentially debuting at the Venice Film Festival did not prove successful, despite the festival’s desire to serve as the film’s coming out venue. It was, though, included in the New York Film Festival, where it was scheduled to make its premiere.

Heard in the trailer is “Identical,” a new song from Phoenix that the band released a video for at about the same time the trailer came out.

MovieClips received an exclusive clip in late September showing Felix being kind of a bad influence on his granddaughters.

Online ads like the one here were run in the week leading up to release, with both the theatrical and Apple TV+ dates noted there.

On The Rocks online ad

Media and Publicity

Coppola revealed some story and character points in an interview earlier this year. She and Jones were interviewed together about bringing elements of their own lives and more to the story and production as a whole.

Murray talked about the movie a bit but was generally his random self in an appearance on “Kimmel,” with Wayans showing up as well on the same episode. A few days later it was Jones’ turn.

The music of the movie was covered in an interview with Phoenix lead singer Thomas Mars, who talked not only about the band’s contribution to the soundtrack but also his role as music supervisor for the film in general.

Additional interviews with Murray had him talking about how his working relationship with Coppola has grown over the years since Lost In Translation. Meanwhile, Coppola also talked about what events and ideas inspired her to tell this story at this point in her career.

Overall

The bet that’s been placed throughout the marketing campaign – that Murray and Jones are likeable enough to be enticing to the audience in and of themselves – is not a bad one to make. That’s made even more sure when you add in Coppola, especially given her previous collaboration with Murray.

While there’s a lot of good material in the campaign, the entirety of the comes off as somewhat lacking. There just isn’t a lot here, and most of it dates back to August or so. Aside from the online ads that have run, there hasn’t been much new put out to the public since then, which means it may have fallen off the radar of a lot of folks. If there had been a few new clips, spots or other assets released in the immediate lead up to release it may have done a bit better in breaking through the clutter of [waves in the general direction of everything].

Picking Up The Spare

Additional stories about the movie focused on how the crew made Murray feel welcome on set and how Jones feels this project fits in with her career overall

Jones was interviewed on “The Daily Show.” 

A new behind-the-scenes featurette came out a few weeks after the movie was released. 

Phoenix singer Thomas Mars talks more here about how he selected the music for the movie. 

Jones shared a story about the antics she and Murray got into while filming when she appeared on “The Tonight Show.”

Uncut Gems – Marketing Recap

How A24 is selling a new dramatic performance by Adam Sandler.

uncut gems posterPairing Sandler and the directorial team of Benny and Josh Safdie may seem like an odd call, given the former’s penchant for lowbrow, lazy comedy and the latter’s reputation for avant garde cinema, but that’s exactly what’s happened with the new release Uncut Gems.

In the film Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a New York City jeweler with a tendency to gamble and take big risks in the hopes of a payoff, living by the seat of his pants and just trying to stay ahead of the people he’s in debt to. When he goes out on a limb to score a big payday he finds himself walking an even finer line as he tries to stay out of trouble while also not letting his family life fall apart more than it has.

The disconnect between the material and the public’s expectations of what an Adam Sandler movie is have formed the crux of A24’s marketing for the movie.

The Posters

In September the first poster (by marketing agency BLT Communications) came out. There’s nothing extravagant about it, simply showing a grainy photo of Howard looking a little worse for wear but seemingly unphased by it. The story isn’t communicated at all through text so the message is just for audiences to come see a dramatic turn by Sandler.

The Trailers

At the beginning of the first trailer (4.1 million views on YouTube), released in September, Howard is seen as the kind of fast-talking low-grade con man who’s constantly getting himself into and out of trouble. That includes placing lots of bets and selling expensive jewelry. At the midpoint things take a turn and we see Howard may have overdone it, putting himself and his family in danger from powerful men who aren’t happy with how he’s been conducting himself.

Online and Social

Not much information beyond the marketing materials on the studio’s page for the film. Somewhat surprisingly, there were Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles created to share promotional material and, in the case of Twitter in particular, amplify early enthusiasm and positive reviews.

Advertising and Publicity

News the movie was among those that would screen at this year’s Toronto Film Festival hit in late July, accompanied by a first look at Sandler’s character. Reviews out of the festival heralded it as another great accomplishment from the Safdie brothers, with Sandler’s performance being called out by many. It later screened to similar acclaim at the Telluride Film Festival and was revealed to be the “secret” screening at the New York Film Festival.

Late October brought news the film had received three Gotham Awards nominations.

AMC released an exclusive featurette with comments from the directors and cast.

Premiere screenings were held at the Arclight in Boston and then the Arclight in Hollywood, bringing out the cast and crew.

Media and Press

While the cast and crew were in Toronto there were a number of interviews where they talked about the positive reaction the film received and what it was like to work with the Safdies and what they did to prepare for their roles. Sandler spoke during NYFF about similar things.

Safdie talked about working with Sandler while the actor shared some of the research he engaged in prior to production in an October interview.

Sandler appeared on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie and react to early critical praise. Fox appeared on “Kimmel” to talk about working with Sandler.

There were a handful of profiles of Sandler that all seemed to focus on how he approached taking a more dramatic role and whether it might mean awards consideration for the usually dismissed comedic actor. Similarly, a last couple profiles of the Safdies related how they had spent a decade or more trying to get this film made. Another interview with them focused on their hands-on filmmaking style.

At the premiere Sandler and the rest of the cast spoke about the movie and various other topics related to the state of the film industry.

Overall

Early reactions to the movie have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, leading to a 92 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, something that can’t be said for most other Sandler films.

And that’s the point of the entire campaign. The Safdies have a reputation among critics and serious cinephiles for their innovative filmmaking techniques and original stories, but casting Sandler in this movie may have caused a few people to scratch their heads. So the marketing has worked overtime to present the actor as rising to the occasion and putting in the best work of his career. It’s not that he hasn’t given great performances in the past, it’s that drama isn’t his forte.

Notably, there’s been little effort – at least to my eyes – to bring in Sandler’s existing fanbase and have them take a chance on something outside his usual wheelhouse. It’s like the studio understands that the one audience can be swayed while the other can’t, so it’s not even worthy trying.

Picking Up the Spare

Sandler and Garnett made a joint appearance on “Kimmel” to promote the film.

There were additional profiles of Garnett along with costar Idina Menzel. Also getting some attention was editor Ronnie Bronstein.

A24 launched a pop-up experience filled with jewelry, including replicas of the pieces seen in the film, in New York City at the same time the movie was hitting theaters.

A new trailer came out just as the movie was hitting theaters set to Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” that amped up the drama of the story.

Another interview here with the Safdie brothers.

A24 brought a new version of the movie back to theaters to capitalize on the buzz it had built up.

Waves – Marketing Recap

A family chafes under the weight of its bonds in the new movie from the writer/director of It Comes at Night.

waves poster

Sterling K. Brown stars as Ronald in Waves, the new movie from writer/director Trey Edward Shults. Ronald is a loving father to Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Emily (Taylor Russell), a man who is holding his family together through sheer force of will. In the wake of a powerful and emotional loss, Ronald’s domineering style seems more harsh as his grown children seek to spread out and lead their own lives.

The story is one of heartache, love and drama and those themes have come through in A24’s marketing campaign.

The Posters

Tyler and his girlfriend Alexis (Alexa Demie) are shown on the poster (by marketing agency InSync Plus) embracing on a park bench. It looks at first as if they’re sitting on the beach with the Florida coast in front of them until you realize ocean waves are lapping on both sides of the bench, including that closest to the camera. That they are in the middle of the churning ocean is a much different message than it would be otherwise, one that hints at the kind of emotional turmoil the story contains.

The Trailers

The first trailer (549,000 views on YouTube) released in September just as the movie was generating headlines from festival appearances, is focused on Ronald. The other characters around him are all influenced by his actions, the lessons he shares, the decisions he makes and the way he lives his life. That influence is sometimes for good and sometimes not, as we’re shown an incredibly intense emotional drama about how we live our lives and relate to other people.

How strongly Ronald is trying to push and hold together his family is the focus of the second trailer, released in late October. Roughly the same message is conveyed as the first one, but the shorter running time here consolidates the pitch while quotes from reviews praising the movie are featured on-screen.

Online and Social

Just the very basics – the trailer, poster and synopsis – on the studio’s page for the movie.

Advertising and Promotions

A24 planned to bring the movie to the Toronto Film Festival. Shortly before that happened the studio scheduled the early November release date. It was later added to the docket of the Telluride Film Festival, securing its status as a likely awards nominee.

There doesn’t seem to have been much more in the way of active marketing since then.

Media and Press

While in Toronto the cast spoke about how the story deals with the dynamics of black families and how they bonded on the set during production.

Brown and the rest of the cast and crew spoke about how unique and special they felt the film and its story were at the Atlanta premiere. Most of the cast was featured in a joint profile where they talked about making the movie and what it meant to them. Meanwhile Brown was interviewed about his character and how it differs from other recent roles. He also appeared recently on “Kimmel” to promote the movie.

Shults and the rest of the cast talked about the themes of the movie and what motivations they brought to their characters.

Overall

Of all the movies that seem to have received an undeserved short shrift recently, this one really stands out. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive as critics praise all the performances and other reactions have been upbeat as well. So where is the more full-throated marketing support? It’s surprising to not even see more being done on the promotional front, something A24 is well known for. Instead the studio still seems to be paying most of its attention to The Lighthouse.

While Brown in particular was out there doing a number of interviews and appearances, too often this movie was given secondary billing to Frozen 2, in which he also stars. The proximity of those two releases may be working against him being even more involved here, contributing to a campaign that is heavy emotionally even if there isn’t a lot of heft to it.

Picking Up the Spare

A new joint interview with Harrison Jr. and Russell, who play one of the story’s key pairings. And Shults was giving another feature profile here while Brown got another profile as well. Brown made an appearance on “Late Night.”

There were a handful of additional profiles of Brown that allowed him to discuss his role and how it reflects the state of black masculinity.

How the filmmakers secured the rights to songs by Kanye West and others was the subject of this feature.

Cinematographer Drew Daniels discussed his work creating the visual style of the film here. There was also another interview with Harrison Jr. about his experience.

The Lighthouse – Marketing Recap

A24’s black and white character drama is positioned as an alternative to the blockbusters dominating theaters.

lighthouse poster 2Writer/director Robert Eggers returns with this week’s The Lighthouse. The movie stars Willem Dafoe as Thomas, a veteran lighthouse keeper on a remote New England island in the 1890s who one day is joined by a younger assistant named Ephraim (Robert Pattinson). His arrival creates an odd partnership between the two as their days become filled with surreal visions, personal tension and other strange adventures and visions.

The campaign for the film has gone light on the story not because of a fear of spoilers like a Marvel Studios film but because the goal has been to create a tone and sense of mystery about the movie.

The Posters

lighthouse posterThere’s little beyond the picture of a lighthouse out amidst the raging sea on the first poster (by marketing agency P+A), which shows off the movie’s black and white visuals. The one irregularity seen is the tail sticking out of the water in the foreground, while the unusual nature of the story is hinted at with the copy “There is enchantment in the light.”

August brought the release of the second poster which shows Ephraim and Thomas standing on either side of the lighthouse they man, the title and a series of positive quotes from early reviews placed between them.

The Trailers

The first trailer (4.2 million views on YouTube) was released at the end of July and immediately presents a unique look and feel for the movie with its black and white visuals and non-widescreen aspect ratio. Ephraim has come to the lighthouse to work and, it seems, to escape something in his past. Thomas is suspicious but the two are stuck with each other on a remote island, so some bonding is bound to take place. Still, there are hints that mysteries will be brought to light and that danger is lurking in the lighthouse as the movie is sold in a way akin to classic psychological horror films.

In September the second trailer (1.9 million views on YouTube) was released that continues showing the strange and shifting dynamic between the two men. It also introduces a few more mysteries into the story, including the circumstances under which Ephraim’s predecessor might have left his position.

Online and Social

The studio’s official website doesn’t have much that will add to anyone’s understanding of the film, just the basic information on the story and actors.

In a random, almost nonsensical move, A24 released an emoji pack for iMessage based on the movie and its characters, something that’s so strange for a black and while drama about two isolated men it’s kind of awesome.

Advertising and Publicity

Before the movie’s planned premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, A24 released a first photo showing Dafoe and Pattinson in order to set the tone and begin building buzz, with some critics positioning the movie and its cast as likely Oscar contenders. It went on to win multiple awards at the festival, adding to that buzz.

It was later announced among the films screening at the Toronto Film Festival, specifically in the “Special Presentations” section of the event.

Media and Press

The whole cast and crew appeared at Cannes, with Dafoe being interviewed about it and working with Pattinson. Eggers commented on the important role he sees for horror as a storytelling form and how he worked with the crew to realize the vision he and others had for the project.

Pattinson was the subject of a Variety cover story wherein he talked about this movie as well as a whole lot more from his past and future career. That, along with an interview with Eggers where he talked about how he approached the subject material, popped around the time the movie was in the middle of festival screenings.

lighthouse banner

More interviews with Pattinson allowed him to talk about the effect the restrained nature of the story had on him while Eggers shared what he thinks about making a movie that’s been labeled one of the most insane of the year. Eggers also talked about the research he did during the writing the story. Pattinson commented on the physical transformation he undertook for the role as well as how this part fits into his career as a whole. The production details, including modifications to handle the black and white film, were covered by Eggers.

Overall

There’s a real problem in Hollywood involving a lack of visual style. So many movies, even ones by talented directors and cinematographers, have a tendency to look the same because they’ve been wrung dry of uniqueness by corporate editing that needs to have everything appear as bland and generic as possible.

The campaign for The Lighthouse presents a movie serving as an antidote to that sameness. It’s not only an apparently wildly original story but one that’s told in a fashion unlike anything on screen in recent years. As much as the performances by Dafoe and Pattinson appear to be manic and unhinged, the visuals take that to another level by making the viewer slightly uncomfortable. That alone makes it a fascinating campaign for what appears to be a fascinating film.

Picking Up the Spare

The movie’s unconventional look and feel are covered in this interview with Eggers while the two stars talked about similar topics. Eggers again talked about the unusual nature of the production here and the themes of madness and isolation here.

Another interview with Dafoe where he talks about this role, working with Pattinson and more. Dafoe also appeared on “Late Night” to talk about the film while both he and Pattinson were interviewed here. The latter was interviewed again as well.

The Farewell – Marketing Recap

the farewell posterFamily drama is at the heart of the story in the new movie The Farewell. Akwafina stars as Billi, a young woman who’s part of a big Chinese family. She’s independent and headstrong and doesn’t always agree with the decisions the rest of her family make.

That becomes an issue when she finds out her grandmother, who still lives in China, is sick and dying. But Nai Nai isn’t aware her time is short and the rest of the family wants to keep it that way. Billi disagrees with this but goes along while traveling across the Pacific to spend a bit more time with her.

The Posters

The whole family is posed for a portrait on the first poster, everyone looking a bit down and depressed except for Nai Nai who still looks upbeat and as if she’s just happy to be surrounded by everyone. Copy at the top, echoed in the trailer, promises audiences the movie is “Based on a true lie.”

The Trailers

Billi finds out her grandmother is dying just as the trailer, released in early May, opens. Her parents don’t want her to find out, but Billi wants to travel to China to see the old woman before she passes under the pretext of simply visiting family. She reluctantly goes along with keeping the secret, eventually coming to understand that revealing the truth would do more harm than good in a society that values the collective whole not the individual.

Online and Social

The page A24 has for the movie on its site has minimal information, including the trailer, poster and a synopsis. There are also links to the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen, but I’d be willing to bet there have been at least some online ads run.

Media and Publicity

The movie’s premiere at Sundance had much of the cast and crew in attendance, allowing Awkwafina a chance to talk about the generic version of the story the studio seemed to prefer as well as how she never expected to be offered a dramatic role like this. A24 quickly stepped in to purchase distribution rights.

An interview with Wang allowed her to talk about the process of making the movie from start to finish. Awkwafina also addressed her expanding into drama from the comedy she’s usually known for.

Director Lulu Wang was given the Sundance Institute’s 2019 Vanguard Award at the film’s Los Angeles premiere event.

While walking the red carpet at the premiere, Awkwafina spoke about how she hopes the movie continues breaking down cultural barriers by focusing more on what’s universal for everyone instead of what’s different.

How this movie continues the momentum started by Crazy Rich Asians was the subject of this feature, including how those involved are committed to adding more Asian American stories to Hollywood’s output. Also covered was the journey the story took from Wang’s own life to the big screen and how she and others worked to make sure it remained authentic. She also spoke about the way she wanted to go against the grain of Hollywood’s standard operating procedure. That interview also included how she opted to take a theatrical release deal even though a streaming service offered her more money.

Zhao Shuzhen, who plays Nai Nai, got profiles like this in the immediate lead up to release.

In keeping with the movie’s story, A24 hosted a fake Chinese wedding outside the New York theater that hosted the premiere there.

The evolution of Awkwafina into a dramatic actress was covered by many stories similar to this one that allowed her to talk about how intimidated she was by the prospect.

Overall

There’s so much here that’s charming and funny. The focus on Awkwafina is understandable but it’s how the publicity campaign also includes hefty helpings of Wang that really makes a difference to me. It’s one thing to talk about how inclusiveness is improving in front of the camera, but having that happen behind the scenes as well is just as much a game changer, if not more so.

That campaign is selling a story that’s very specific but also largely universal, that we sometimes do things in someone’s best interest that may seem a bit morally questionable. It might be a bit small scale, which makes some amount of sense, but it’s alright and I hope there will be more of it in the coming weeks as the movie expands beyond its limited initial release.

Picking Up the Spare

There have been more interviews with Wang on the concept of being an American, the trick in telling stories about a lie and how she tried to keep the tone very human and relatable. 

Awkwafina also kept going, appearing on “The Late Show” and being the subject of an interview with her real life grandmother. She also talked about her drive to be part of this movie. 

Another round of interviews with Wang like this and this hit weeks after the movie was released to continue generating conversations around the movie.

The Last Black Man In San Francisco – Marketing Recap

last black man in san francisco poster 2It’s nearly impossible to discuss urban areas in the United States without assessing the impact of gentrification on neighborhoods. Such a change is at the heart of the story in The Last Black Man in San Francisco from writer/director Joe Talbot. Jimmie Falls stars as essentially himself, which makes sense given the movie is based on his own story of life in the city.

Jimmie is trying to reclaim the San Fran house he used to live in, one built decades ago by his own grandfather. His efforts are aided by his longtime friend Montgomery (Jonathan Majors) but hindered by the reality that San Francisco is now one of the most expensive, racially and financially segregated cities in America.

The Posters

last black man in san francisco posterA lone boat sails on the water on the first poster, the Golden Gate Bridge in the background to make sure everyone understands what city the story will be taking place in. It’s simple, with just the title and some positive quotes cluttering the image along with the film’s Sundance credentials.

The second one-sheet is designed to look like the cover of a dime-store novel, with paintings of Jimmie and Montgomery in a frame that sports the title at the top and some pull quotes from positive reviews toward the bottom. I’m sure this is done in the style of a black artist I’m not familiar with, which is a shortcoming on my part. Still, it’s fantastic.

The Trailers

The trailer opens with Grandpa Allan’s voiceover explaining the history of how San Francisco was built in ways most people don’t understand. He’s encouraging Jimmy and Montgomery to stick together before we see them exploring what Jimmy believes to be his old house and imagining what the two friends could do there. Circumstances keep telling Jimmy he should leave SF but he refuses, believing his future is there in that city in some important way.

What the trailer promises is a story of how identity is tied so closely to location, and vice versa. Jimmy can’t leave because S.F. is in his soul would change that much more if he were to do so. But it also makes clear that others don’t want him there, maybe not saying so overtly but still communicating it through the changed reality they impose on the city and its residents.

Online and Social

A24’s page for the movie is simple, mostly dominated by a synopsis alongside the trailer and poster. There were also outposts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’m aware of in this category.

Media and Publicity

This year’s Sundance Film Festival hosted the movie’s premiere. It was received do well it won multiple awards at the festival, including the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize.

In late May the cast and director appeared at the premiere, hosted at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theater, where they also engaged in a Q&A with attendees.

Interviews with Falls have focused on themes relevant to the movie’s story, including how the film captures a city that no longer exists because it’s been invaded by tech bros and entrepreneurs who have pushed out long time residents and jacked up real estate prices. Those costs are so high members of the production couldn’t even afford to stay in the city while filming.

There were also multiple appearance by Falls and Talbot on local San Francisco media, where they talked about their love for a city that doesn’t seem to love them back.

Overall

Other recent films about the Black experience in America have focused on the violence they face at the hands of police and the systemic racism that’s built into much of society. The message presented in the campaign here is that this film is more about how the Black identity is being erased from areas they once they called their own, all in the name of progress. That progress is only for some, though, a group that doesn’t include them.

To send that message the campaign offers a lyrical reality that’s different from the magical one presented in films like Sorry To Bother You. It doesn’t want to present a metaphor or analogy, it wants to show in no uncertain terms how whole groups are being displaced and shut out when powerful forces with deep coffers invade.

Picking Up the Spare

This feature story goes deep on Falls’ real story to explore how San Francisco’s changes impacted him and the movie’s production, as does this interview with him and this one with him and Talbot. The director got his own interview about making the movie and his feelings about the city here. 

EW took a tour of the SF home that serves as the story’s setting and the impetus for much of the story. 

Another great poster shows Falls standing on a San Francisco street. He’s made to look like he’s leaning forward, while the houses behind him are also cockeyed, an acknowledgement of the city’s sometimes steep topography. 

Costar Jonathan Majors was the subject of a profile here. 

The Souvenir – Marketing Recap

the souvenir posterAn ill-advised romance forms the crux of the story in this week’s The Souvenir. Honor Swinton Byrne stars as Julie, a film student who wants to find success but is also extremely shy when it comes to taking chances. She’s involved with Anthony (Tom Burke) who lives in the same house as Julie, one owned by Rosalind (Tilda Swinton).

That relationship is one that no one who knows Julie is a fan of. Anthony at first is loving and kind while their romance is secret but becomes more manipulative, cold and secretive as time goes on, a change the unassuming Julie grudgingly accepts because she doesn’t know the way out. Eventually her budding ambition encourages her to take a stand and refuse to be anything but successful.

The Posters

The movie’s only poster just shows the chins and torsos of Julie and Anthony who are standing on the side of their car, their faces only visible in the reflection of the roof. The festival credentials are accompanied by some positive pull quotes from early reviews. It definitely gives off the vibe of the film, even if there’s no copy to further explain things.

The Trailers

The first trailer starts off by focusing on the relationship between Julie and Anthony, a relationship they’re successfully keeping hidden from her mother despite him renting a room in their house. She aspires to be a filmmaker and is working toward that, but her drive, as well as other factors, complicates the love affair as Anthony becomes more distant, resentful and difficult. She refuses to be held responsible for his changes, though, and keeps working toward her goals even while trying to maintain the relationship.

Online and Social

Just the basics on the tickets-centric website for the movie, a brief synopsis, the trailer and little else.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing here that I’ve seen, but the studio may have run some targeted ads in the areas where the movie is receiving limited release.

Media and Publicity

Shortly after the movie was announced as one of those premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival it was picked up by A24. Swinton-Byrne was pegged as one of the breakout stars of the festival, though she only reluctantly acknowledged that.

A clip released to Vanity Fair shows the mother/daughter pair sharing a scene.

Director Joanna Hogg was interviewed about the production and the themes of the story she wanted to communicate through the film. Those themes included ones pulled from her own life and experiences decades ago as an aspiring filmmaker. Indeed she became the focus of the publicity campaign close to release as the personal nature of the story became more clear. Also mentioned in that last piece is that a sequel that continues Julie’s – and Hogg’s own – was about to go into production.

Overall

How women allow their own identities to be cast in the shadows of men brimming with unearned confidence is a story that doesn’t often make it to film, with a few notable exceptions. Based on the campaign, which sells the movie as an atmospheric art-house drama filled with difficult moods and complex characters, it seems to be the cinematic equivalent of Twitter threads where women recount having their own expertise dismissed by men sure of themselves even if they’re wrong. “Yeah but have you *really* explored the subtext of Fight Club?”

What’s good to see is that the initial focus in the press on the casting of Swinton and her famous mother eventually gave way to how personal this story is for Hogg. It could have easily been sidelined over fears it would make a female filmmaker appear vengeful or too emotional, despite countless male filmmakers working out their issues with women in movies. Allowing Hogg to share her indignation and growth is a powerful hook for the film’s campaign to use as a way to lure audiences.

Picking Up the Spare

More from Hogg on the real events that inspired her in this interview as well as in this joint feature with Swinton Byrne. The director also talked with Martin Scorsese, who served as producer on the film. 

Gloria Bell – Marketing Recap

gloria bell posterJulianne Moore plays the title character in this week’s Gloria Bell. Gloria is a woman who is out there living life, at least after she finishes her run-of-the-mill day job. At night she heads out to dance at one of L.A.’s many clubs. She’s comfortable in her life and, since she’s divorced, doesn’t have to worry about what anyone at home might think.

While out one evening she meets Arnold (John Turturro) and the two develop a romantic connection. After enjoying her freedom and lack of ties, though, dating is difficult for Gloria and various issues start to come between her and Arnold, issues the two will have to overcome to make it work.

The Posters

We get everything we need to know about Gloria on the poster, which shows her enjoying the breeze as she stands up in a moving car. She’s a carefree spirit, we’re told, and we’re going to follow her as she moves through her life. What’s most notable is that this is a woman who’s 30 years older than the typical character we see cutting loose like this, but there are no apologies offered. She is who she is and she’s going to enjoy every minute she can.

The Trailers

We meet Gloria in the first trailer and see she is a force of nature, optimistic and loving and patient with everyone around her. One night she meets Arnold and the two begin dating, which is going fine until he meets her ex-husband, which causes problems in the relationship.

The main takeaway from the trailer is the Julianne Moore is a gift from above and we don’t deserve her. We see the pull and push that’s common to most romantic comedies, but the fact that it’s too reliable pros like Moore and Turturro in the leads immediately kicks things up a notch and promises what might be a standard story will be something more.

Online and Social

A24 offers just the basic information on the page for the movie, including a trailer, synopsis, cast/crew list and the poster. There are also links to Facebook and Twitter profiles, but that’s it.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen or heard about.

Media and Publicity

The title was picked up by A24 ahead of its previously-announced premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

In the last few days before release Moore appeared on late-night and morning talk shows to discuss the movie and her character.

Overall

Moore is, of course, the main attraction here. The story is interesting and we could certainly use more movies like this that feature women over the age of 30 having the time of their lives free of entanglements. It’s not sad about her choices, but revels in them. With the focus on the actress and the unique story she’s part of, it’s a good – albeit small – campaign.

Picking Up the Spare

Moore talked about working with Turturro and the production as a whole at the movie’s premiere. She was also interviewed more about what made the role attractive.

Turturro finally appeared on late night to talk about the movie.

The fact that the story focused on the carefree life being lived by a woman over 50 was notable and noted.