Woman in the Window – Marketing Recap

How Netflix is selling a claustrophobic, paranoid drama.

The Woman In The Window poster

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.

The Posters

Original poster for The Woman In The Window

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 Trailers

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.

Overall

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.

The Banker – Marketing Recap

How Apple is selling its first original feature film release.

the banker poster 2Like most other media (and some technology) companies in the last year or so, Apple is finally branching into distributing original feature films, specifically using its Apple TV+ streaming service. It has already released a handful of series and a couple documentaries, but narrative features are new with this week’s The Banker.

The movie stars Samuel L. Jackson as Joe Morris and Anthony Mackie as Bernard Garrett. Morris and Garrett are two bankers who want to help others like them own their own homes and move toward the American Dream. The racist policies of the 1960s, though, keep them from owning their own bank. So they enlist Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult), a white man, to act as the public face of their venture while they pretend to be his hired help. Eventually the Feds get wise to their scheme, threatening to bring the entire operation to a halt.

Unfortunately early reviews haven’t been great, with critics citing a corny story and uneven plotting. Even more troublesome is controversy surrounding the people depicted in the story that has caused Apple to change its release plans, dampening what should be a big coming out for the company’s media ambitions.

The Posters

the banker posterThe photo of a white hand and black hand coming together in a shake is the central focus of the first poster from November. Copy explains “They built an empire like nobody’s business,” a nice bit of double entendre writing that conveys the unusual nature of what the characters accomplished. Notably, this is the first movie whose poster bills it as “An Apple original.”

February’s second poster uses the same kind of stark black and white photography, but this time features Morris and Garrett, both looking dapper in their suits and hats. It reminds people the movie is “Based on true events” but features slightly different copy that reads “Don’t pay the man. Be the man.”

The Trailers

It wasn’t until early November that the first trailer (956,000 views on YouTube) finally came out. The spot introduces us to Garrett as an ambitious businessman who wants to keep growing, expanding into more banking and other services. Limited because of restrictions – both formal and informal – on black-owned businesses at the time, he first enlists Morris’ help with the financing and then that of Steiner to act as the white face of the operation. We see clearly the movie will deal with redlining and other discriminatory practices, all of which are deserving of more general attention.

Online and Social

The website Apple is using to promote the film is pretty bare bones, but the addition of a Common Sense Media rating is a nice touch.

Advertising and Promotions

Apple acquired distribution rights to the film in mid-July of last year, making the film part of the lineup for the company’s upcoming (at the time) streaming service. News that the movie would be the closing feature at AFI Fest in November came shortly after Apple gave it a theatrical release date.

Just a day before that AFI Fest screening, Apple abruptly pulled it from the event amidst concerns over sexual abuse allegations involving the son of the real life subject of the story. The movie’s release date was soon delayed as well. Shortly thereafter the cast and crew released a statement clarifying that while they respect the grave nature of the accusations made, they don’t feel the film disrespects that at all and doesn’t touch on that subject matter.

In mid-January Apple finally rescheduled the movie for early March, with a theatrical run followed just two weeks later by its debut on Apple TV+. Almost immediately, though, Garrett’s former wives issued a statement saying the film should be permanently shelved because of what they felt were inaccuracies and elements that are disrespectful to the family.

After those issues were more or less in the past (but still lingering out there), Apple started running paid ads. Online units used elements of the key art, specifically the image of the two leads standing next to each other, while pre-roll ads used a cut down version of the trailer to highlight the stars while lightening up the focus on the story.

the banker online ad.png

Media and Press

Mackie was profiled in a piece that talked about this and other recent roles that allow him to revisit his dramatic chops instead of flying around as a super hero, which is where many people would recognize him. He later stopped by “The Late Show” to talk about the movie as well as his continued Marvel role and upcoming series.

An interview with costar Nia Long to talk about how important it is for stories like this that have slipped through the cracks of the history books to be told.

The cast and crew turned out for a premiere screening at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Overall

The movie and its campaign seem to have been caught between two lightning rods. On one side is the point raised by Long that stories like this that expose the systemic racism dominating centuries of this country’s history need to be told with more regularity, so it’s an important method to fill in the gaps of what’s covered, especially in popular culture. On the other, because it’s the story of a problematic individual, simply the act of telling that story is going to be fraught.

With that in mind, the campaign has worked more often than it hasn’t, but the controversy obviously caused Apple to pull back some of the effort it has been putting in to recent series releases. Hitting AFI and other events would have allowed the company to make a much bigger splash for its first foray into original movies and raise the profile of the Apple TV+ service that keeps struggling to gain traction.

What remains is a movie that looks like a solid drama featuring a handful of great actors, which is hard to pass up.