Pain and Glory – Marketing Recap

Two longtime collaborators reunite for a story of grappling with the repercussions of the choices made in service of art.

pain and glory posterThe story being told in Pain & Glory, the new film from writer/director Pedro Almodóvar, is that of the aging artist taking stock of his life and grappling with his legacy. Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a thinly-veiled stand in for Almodóvar himself.

Through a series of circumstances Mallo is prompted to consider what his life has amounted to, revisiting moments from his past that have brought him great pleasure, love and beauty. How all of that has influenced his art and life are all brought into focus in sometimes wonderful and sometimes painful ways.

With a 96 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has been a hit with critics. Sony Classics’ campaign seeks to bring that buzz to the general audience.

The Posters

How the individual pictures of various settings and characters are scattered around the title treatment on the poster is actually quite perfect given the subject matter. These are literally fragments of people and memories going through Mallo’s mind. It’s unclear if this is the idea the designers were going for since it’s also similar to any number of independent dramas that marketing teams have struggled to find a theme or brand for, but it works on that level.

The Trailers

The first trailer (82,000 views on YouTube) was finally released in early August. We’re shown a portrait of a filmmaker who is struggling to find his footing in the present at the same time he’s trying to reconcile that present with the past. There are hints of storylines involving the price of notoriety, parental rebuke and much more, all accompanied by Almodóvar’s gentle but striking visuals.

Online and Social

Sony Classics’ website for the film is a throwback to the kind of fully-featured sites that used to be commonplace. Not only is there the trailer, a gallery and other marketing materials but there’s an in-depth exploration of the film, its story and full cast/crew bios, but there’s also a wonderful “About” section that explores the themes Almodóvar has covered and where this movie fits into his filmography as a whole.

Advertising and Promotions

Almodóvar and Banderas brought the movie to the Cannes Film Festival, speaking about the story and the future of film as a whole while there. Its appearance there generated a good amount of positive chatter and set off some Oscar buzz for the cast and crew. It was later announced among the films screening at the Toronto Film Festival, which included a conversation with Banderas.

The first clip, released in early September, shows Mallo having an uncomfortable (for him) conversation with an ex-lover about their current situations.

It was announced at about that same time the movie would act as Spain’s official entry for this year’s Academy Awards.

A screening at the New York Film Festival included a conversation with Almodóvar.

Media and Press

Banderas was interviewed while there about working with his friend Almodóvar, a situation with the potential to get very tricky given his character is a vague version of the director himself.

That same scene released in September was one, according to Banderas, that was too emotional for the director to be on set for. The actor also reminisced about his long history of working with Almodóvar and the sometimes controversial and unpopular choices he’s made in his career. He also talked about how his own recent health issues were mined by the director to reinforce where the character he plays is at and what he’s dealing with.


The movie is, objectively, a bit niche for mainstream audiences. The critics and cinephiles who have seen it at festivals or who will seek it out in its limited engagements are the perfect target group for the film given its subject matter and pedigree.

That the campaign doesn’t shy away from any of the themes or details of the story is to Sony Classics’ credit and a sign the studio understands who is going to be interested in seeing it. There’s no other way to position a movie that reunites Almodóvar and Banderas in yet another deeply personal project, so the marketing works in being, based on what’s seen here, true to what it’s selling.

Picking Up the Spare

Almodóvar continued to speak about how personal the movie’s story is and why he decided to make it, despite the worry his friends had about it.

The director and star were both interviewed about the process of making the film and how long it took to get things started. Almodovar got another solo interview as well.

The Laundromat – Marketing Recap

Early reviews called it a bit of a misfire, though a well-intentioned and well-made one with a top-notch cast.

laundromat posterBased on Jake Bernstein’s book “Secrecy World,” this week’s Netflix-original The Laundromat seeks to turn a rather boring financial story – the revelation of what came to be labeled “The Panama Papers” – into high drama. The movie comes from director Steven Soderbergh and stars Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Meryll Streep and a host of others.

Oldman and Banderas play, respectively, Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, two highly-connected lawyers at the heart of the shady international dealings uncovered in the documents. Streep plays Ellen Martin, a woman who finds her life upended by the actions of the rich and powerful who take advantage of those “legal” services. Martin’s investigation uncovers just how corrupt the entire system is and how weighted against people like her it is.

Netflix has given the movie a brisk campaign that’s been heavy on festival screenings, trying to sell a whimsical comedic take on a very serious issue. While the 45% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes may not completely tank the film, it also bodes poorly for what should otherwise be a major fall streaming release, one that’s getting a brief theatrical release before it hits streaming next month.

The Posters

A piggy bank wearing sunglasses stands on a pile of currency from various countries on the poster (by marketing agency BLT Communications), released in late August. That irreverent image is meant to convey the movie’s off-kilter humorous tone, setting the audience up for satire more than a straightforward drama.

The Trailers

Jurgen and Ramon are our guides through the first trailer (11.2 million views on YouTube), released in August during the Venice Film Festival. They establish the premise of the story, aimed at exposing parts of society that are rigged to favor the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else. Ellen is on their trailer, piecing together clues that show how money and corruption are all tied together, and when secrets are exposed, a lot of people become very angry for their own reasons. It’s all presented as a caper flick, with a loose vibe that frames it as a lighthearted, if terrifying, glimpse behind the curtain.

Online and Social

No website, but Netflix did create a Twitter profile for the film in order to share photos, key press beats and more.

Advertising and Publicity

There had been lots of chatter about the movie but one of the first big moments in the publicity cycle came in late July when it was included in the “Special Presentations” section of this year’s Toronto Film Festival and in-competition at the Venice Film Festival. The TIFF appearance included a conversation with Banderas where he talked about this movie and his career in general. Reviews weren’t wholly positive, though, with some calling it a slight misfire by Soderbergh.

Media and Press

As festival season got underway, Soderbergh was interviewed about how he approached translating the real life story into a film that struck a slightly comedic tone.

An interview with Streep at the Venice premiere had the actress reinforcing that Soderbergh was using a darkly comic tone to highlight a very serious matter. Further interviews during Toronto allowed her to talk about working with Netflix and the darkly comic nature of the story.

Two short clips from the movie were shared via The Playlist in August.

Streep, Banderas and Oldman all talked about the comic tone of the film in a joint interview. Soderbergh talked about the process of luring Streep to the project as well.


It’s not exactly breaking new rhetorical ground to compare this movie to The Big Short, Adam McKay’s satirical analysis of the banking crisis that led to the 2008 recession. Purely from a marketing perspective, the biggest difference here is there’s clearly a framing device being communicated to the audience, namely the Greek Chorus that is the lawyers played by Banderas and Oldman.

That there’s so much time spent on that framing device, which is largely intended as a big old wink to the audience, that the actual story gets somewhat muddled. The marketing is so busy making sure everyone knows it’s a bit funny that it’s never clear what it is that’s meant to be humorous. You get that there’s some sort of investigation going on, but into what is never communicated.

A new, socially-relevant film from Soderbergh deserves a bit better than that. Fans of the director will likely be anxious to check it out, but there’s little here to generate the kind of discussion or soul-searching that may be needed to fully understand what happened.

Picking Up the Spare

Netflix put out a short trailer just before the movie became available to streaming subscribers.

That release appeared briefly questionable in the face of a lawsuit from a firm involved in the Panama Papers, but that claim was ignored by Netflix and soon thrown out by a judge.

A couple conversations from the movie’s festival appearance have been released with the cast and crew talking about the story and characters.

Streep was interviewed about the story and her surprise dual roles in the film.