How Netflix is selling a claustrophobic, paranoid drama.
After a number of delays, reschedulings and other issues The Woman In The Window, directed by Joe Wright and starring Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anthony Mackie and others, finally comes to audiences on Netflix this week. Based on the book of the same name (but not related to the 1944 Fritz Lang movie), the story focuses on Dr. Anna Fox (Adams), a psychologist whose agoraphobia keeps her largely confined to her New York City condo. Fox befriends the woman who lives next door, but when that woman disappears Fox finds herself increasingly disoriented as the reality of what she did or didn’t see is called into question.
The movie was originally scheduled for release in late 2019. First delayed when Disney acquired Fox, which originally produced it, and requested reshoots, it then was bounced around during the Covid-19 pandemic. As it finally sees the light of day this week it’s been preceded by a campaign that has played up the psychological thriller elements of the story. Let’s take a look.
Fox is looking out the window of her condo on the first poster (by marketing agency BLT Communications), released all the way back in December 2019. A bloody hand reaching up across the street can be seen in the reflection, giving audiences the message that there will be some sort of Rear Window-esque story.
Netflix released its own poster this past April. We still get the basic idea of Fox looking out a window, but this time the photo of her is less obscured and the presence of a window is hinted at through some artfully-arranged black and white shapes. It’s not bad, but feels less like the poster for a high-profile release than the low-rent DVD cover a high-profile release would receive after a successful theatrical run.
The first trailer (4.1 million views on YouTube), finally released in December of 2019, starts out by showing Emma is an agoraphobe, scared of leaving her apartment to the point of not being able to do so. That perimeter starts to crack when she befriends Jane, the woman who lives across the hall. When it looks like Jane has mysteriously disappeared, Emma has her sanity questioned as reality becomes a bit blurry, with Jane’s husband seeming to lie about what happened and who Emma actually met. Things get stranger and stranger and the danger greater as Emma insists on her version of events despite the prostrations of seemingly powerful people with no qualms about using her condition against her.
Netflix released another trailer (1 million views on YouTube) in April that sells the same basic story but positions it more strongly as a psychological thriller filled with twists and turns. It’s focused less on Emma’s insistence that she’s right in what she saw and more on how she navigates the situations that develop because of those events.
Online and Social
Not surprising to find there’s no official website for this Netflix exclusive, but the company did give the movie some support on its brand social channels.
Advertising, Press and Publicity
Unfortunately some of the first news about the movie came in mid-July of last year when it was announced it was being pulled from the release schedule. Reports were Disney – which acquired it in the Fox deal – was unhappy with the results of initial test screenings and had ordered extensive reshoots and other changes.
Disney pulled the movie from its release schedule again in mid-March in response to the Covid-19 outbreak that was closing theaters and more. News came in early August that Netflix was considering buying the movie. Those reports were eventually confirmed, with a release date finally announced in March.
While she was promoting other things last year Adams spoke briefly about the movie.
Wright was interviewed as part of EW’s 2021 Movie Preview, speaking about the unusual production, the reshoots that were done and the fact that the film has shifted from a theatrical to streaming release.
Netflix announced a Q&A with the cast for early April that would include exclusive footage.
In the last week or so Adams has made a handful of press appearances, including on “Late Night.”
A short video with Adams explaining the plot came out just before the movie’s release.
There was also a featurette with Adams and Wright talking about the long process the movie has taken from when it was developed and originally shot to when it’s finally being sent out into the world.
It has to be hard for Adams, Wright and others to go out there and make the pitch for the movie at this moment given they’re two years removed from it in most senses. That has an impact in creating – or not creating – a sense of urgency that’s conveyed to the audience as they’re out there making the pitch.
While Netflix’s campaign for the movie has been alright, making the movie seem a bit broader than it originally did, it also hasn’t done much to capitalize on the anticipation that seemed to be felt back in late-2019 and early-2020. As the marketing wraps up, then, it looks like a decent movie to watch on a Saturday afternoon when it’s recommended on the Netflix landing page.