Rebecca – Marketing Recap

How Netflix has sold the latest adaptation of a gothic romance classic.

Rebecca, out this week on Netflix, is the latest in a series of adaptations of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel of the same name. This version, written by Jane Goldman and directed by Ben Wheatly, stars Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter and Lily James as Mrs. de Winter. The couple, married after only a brief courtship, soon move back to the huge seaside estate of his to begin their life together.

It’s at that point trouble begins. The new Mrs. de Winter is haunted by Rebecca, the first to carry that name. Sometimes that haunting is literal in how she still seems to be inhabiting the home, with bits of her life and possessions around and about. More figuratively, the young bride is constantly being reminded of she who came before by the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas).

Mixed reviews for the film started emerging last week, giving it a lackluster 55% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, though most at least called out the fantastic production values. Netflix’s marketing has played up the atmospheric aspects of the story and the psychological trauma being visited on the young woman.

The Posters

The newly-married couple are the prime elements on the first poster (by marketing agency Empire Design), released in early September. They’re embracing but he, at least, appears somewhat distracted, which hints at some of the drama to come.

A series of additional posters came out in early October that each take a slightly different atmospheric take on the story. All, though, visually play with the ideas of the new couple being close but somehow separated in some manner, often by Mrs. Danvers herself. They’re some very interesting designs that do more to present the tone of the film than the primary version.

The Trailers

The first trailer (1.25 million views on YouTube) came out in early September, starting with the meeting of Maxim and the young woman followed by the evolution of their romance. They are soon married, but when she joins him at his home at Manderlay things become dark quickly. The new Mrs. de Winter, as she’s becoming acclimated to her surroundings, finds the memory of Maxim’s first wife is still very much alive in the house, with physical evidence all around her. Not only is Maxim acting strangely when it comes to Rebecca but so is Mrs. Danvers, who keeps introducing the specter of the late wife into every situation and emotion. It’s an increasingly tense story being sold here, one filled with atmosphere and huge rooms containing layers of mystery.

Online and Social

Nope, but Netflix did provide some support on its brand social channels. It wasn’t much, though, as the company seemed focused on other recent releases over the last few weeks.

Advertising and Promotions

Netflix released the first official stills in early August, announcing the October debut date at the same time.

After the first trailer came out a short explainer video offering an overview of the story and introducing the cast was released. Hammer and James appeared in a featurette on how the book was adapted in this latest version.

A couple clips showing Mrs. Danvers being passive aggressive and part of the new lovers’ courtship came out earlier in the month.

James starred in a featurette focused on movie trivia and more.

Media and Press

In an interview from early September, Wheatley clarified that he wasn’t attempting to remake Hitchcock’s film but was instead offering his own adaptation of the source material.

Hammer appeared on “Kimmel” earlier this month to talk about the movie and did a few other interviews. James’ participation in the final publicity push seems to have been stifled by rumors regarding her personal life.


Outside of the book, the most famous version of this story is likely Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation. Compared to the marketing of that film, this one very much comes off as a kind of goth-lite, one that’s more concerned with shots of massive hallways and such than in effectively creating a sense of dread or terror akin to what the new Mrs. de Winter is supposed to be feeling.

But there is still a consistent visual brand that’s been established by the campaign. It’s just that this time around it’s a bit brighter and slicker than what’s come before. Hammer and James glide through that and look good doing it, but it remains to be seen if that’s a strong enough hook to get audiences interested.

Picking Up The Spare

Netflix released a number of extended clips in the days following the movie’s debut. 

James was interviewed on “The Tonight Show” about the film and other projects she’s involved in. She and Hammer were interviewed together about how this version is based on the original book and not meant to be a remake of Hitchcock’s classic film. 

Speaking of the source novel, a new featurette had Hammer reading select passages from the book. There was also a new behind-the-scenes video released. 

There were also two profile of the film’s costume designer about creating the look of the characters and how it plays into the style of the movie as a whole. Using a specific scene as an example, the filmmakers drilled into creating that production style. That was followed by a story about 

Wheatly was the subject of a couple additional interviews

On the Basis of Sex – Marketing Recap

on the basis of sex posterSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a cultural phenomenon in the last few years, largely because of her status as a kickass liberal woman who has carved her own path in an effort to bring legal equality to the world. Her story has recently been told in books like “The Notorious RBG” and the documentary RBG.

Now that story is getting the feature treatment in On the Basis of Sex. Felicity Jones plays Ginsburg as an ambitious lawyer who’s just starting out in her career. She comes up against walls and barriers all over the place, though, as she seeks to argue against laws she believes to be discriminatory against genders. Armie Hammer costars as her husband Martin.

The Posters

Jones as Ginsburg wears a sensible wool dress and gloves as she stands in front of a miniature Supreme Court building, showing how she will come to dominate that venue in more ways than one. Her outfit explains the time period the story is set in but it’s a drab image that doesn’t do much to fire the imagination or inspire much passion. Honestly it’s the kind of photo you’d expect to see used in a culture magazine for a feature on a powerful female attorney.

The Trailers

We get the basic outlines of the story in the first trailer, including how Ginsburg is determined as a young woman to change the culture and address some of the gender-based inequalities that have been codified into law. She’s smart but can’t get ahead because she’s a woman. Eventually she comes across a case where the law is prejudiced against men and she decides this is what it will take to upend the whole system.

What’s notable in what is otherwise a choppy and uneven trailer is the Hammer is very much playing the kind of role usually assigned to a woman, that of the supportive partner/spouse who encourages the other to keep fighting and do what’s right. That’s…that’s big. Jones looks very good, of course, but the story overall seems a bit overdone. Also, while some people took issue with the “Neither does the word ‘Freedom.’” line at the end, the movie’s screenwriter defended its usage, saying it makes sense in the context of the full scene.

That line is still in the second trailer, which focuses on Ginsburg’s fight against those who would keep her down and in her lane, something she’s utterly unwilling to do.

Online and Social

Focus Features’ official website follows the studio’s regular online template, opening with the trailer and with a bunch of photos, bios and videos further down the page for visitors to check out and click on. There are links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages as well.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Jones really shines in the first TV spot from late October, with Kesha’s inspiring original song playing over footage of her as Ginsburg crusading for what she believes to be right and making friends – and enemies – along the way.

In mid-November the second trailer was used as a promoted post on Twitter, one that specifically called out the inclusion of a new Kesha song.

Focus Features partnered with a number of consumer brands on the “All Rise Now” collection of lifestyle products, the purchase of which supported the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. The site for the campaign also featured movie assets and other graphics to be shared online, though oddly Pinterest isn’t one of the default choices for doing so despite them seeming to be perfect for that platform.

Media and Publicity

The publicity campaign kicked off with the release of the first photo showing Jones as Ginsburg. The actress spoke about the process of portraying the justice when Focus Features made it part of their CinemaCon presentation, which included an early look at footage for attendees.

Jones was the subject of a Vanity Fair cover story that detailed her preparation for the role, the attention to detail paid by everyone involved, the timeliness of the story and lots more.

Pop star Kesha released her anthemic song of empowerment that’s featured in the movie in mid-September.

The movie was singled out as the AFI Film Festival’s opening night feature.

Of course one couldn’t ignore the fact that this movie was coming shortly after the widely-acclaimed release of RBG, the documentary of Ginsburg that created a lot of stir among critics and audiences. That documentary was scheduled for a series of free screenings in advance of the U.S. midterm elections, which also nicely brought the subject back up a couple months before this movie’s release date.

Jones praised Leder as a director at a Q&A about the movie and her career in general. She also spoke about Ginsburg and the challenges she’s faced in her career while accepting the Variety Award at the British Independent Film Awards.

The first clip offered an extended look at a scene from the trailer of Ginsburg making a strong impression at a formal dinner. A second showed her making it clear she expects her husband to give her some space to be herself and a third had her arguing for taking a case no one else believes in. A final one had Ginsburg testing her arguments for equality.

An interview with Jones made the odd choice of focusing on her beauty and fitness routine as opposed to the research she did to take on the role of a future Supreme Court justice.

Hammer did the media rounds in the last couple weeks, talking about how he’s now BFFs with Ginsburg herself, his experience shooting the movie and how he bonded with the cast during production. Jones got in on the action with TV and other interviews.

The true story of the cast that essentially launched Ginsburg’s legal career, the one recounted in the movie, was detailed by Smithsonian Magazine and other outlets in the last few days.


First off, it’s worth noting this is the second movie in as many years to tell the story of a seminal case in the career development of a future Supreme Court justice, though last year’s Marshall didn’t get quite this level of buzz and awareness. That’s at least in part because Thurgood Marshall is a generation removed from most modern movie audiences, so there just wasn’t the connection.

This movie’s campaign, though, makes sure the audience knows this is about a woman who is held as an idol by many right now, so it’s much more relevant message. While the details of the case she’s arguing to make her point aren’t made very clear, that’s not the point. Instead it’s about her fierce determination in the face of adversity and disbelief.

Picking Up the Spare

Another interview with Leder where she talks about the ways she understood Ginsburg’s story and another where she talks about what she found in common with the lawyer.

She, Jones and Hammer were all part of a joint conversation about digging into Ginsburg’s life along with how the way her real life husband supported her wasn’t dramatic enough for some studio execs, who wanted to see more conflict. Another similar joint interview followed. That was also the subject of a new featurette.

Cailee Spaeny, who plays Ginsburg’s daughter, was interviewed a bit later about how she approached her role and got involved.

Later on there was another profile of Leder that focused on how she was yet another example of a female director who’d been shut out of feature films for almost two decades.

More on the “All Rise” campaign for workplace equality that involved a partnership with the ACLU here.

Call Me By Your Name – Marketing Recap

call me by your name posterSet in 1983, Call Me By Your Name tells an uncomfortable story, one made all the more so by the news dominating the headlines at this very moment. Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is in Italy with his father, a prominent professor on a research trip. Elio is a bright and outgoing 17- year-old who spends his time in a variety of intellectual pursuits, as well as hanging out with is friend Marzia (Esther Garell).

Joining them on the trip is Oliver (Armie Hammer), the professor’s research assistant. Oliver and Elio become fast friends and bond over shared backgrounds and interests. Eventually that turns into something else as the closeness with Oliver seems to bring Elio’s own sexuality and identity more to the forefront. The seven years between them – Oliver is 24 – remains a problem, though, given that Elio is still young and figuring out who he is.

The Posters

The first and only poster was pretty simple, just showing Elio and Oliver sitting together and looking up to the clear blue sky, the younger’s head resting on the shoulder of the older’s. Aside from that p, oto the primary element is all the quotes from early screenings conveying how incredible the movie is.

The Trailers

The first trailer, which debuted on Vulture, opens by introducing us to Elio, who soon meets the visiting American Oliver. The boy offers to show him around and they begin to hang out more, Elio both attracted to the mature Oliver and his girlfriend Esther. Things progress on both fronts and Elio isn’t sure what to do.

The goal here is to offer the audience the barest outline of the story, instead focusing on the attitude and emotions of the characters. Elio is, of course, the primary focus and we see him go through all the usual stages of doubt and insecurity that are common with his age. This is designed to show everyone what festival goers were buzzing about and succeeds on that front.

Online and Social

The movie’s official website opens with the trailer playing against a cropped version of the key art. Once that’s over the past has links to get tickets as well as for the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles Sony Classics has created.

Scroll down the page or use the menu on the right and the first section you come across is the “Synopsis,” which has a brief writeup of the story, followed by “Cast” and then “Filmmakers,” both of which feature bios and histories of those involved in making the movie.

The “Gallery” has 14 stills from the production. There’s a section for “Reviews” but you can also read pull quotes from select reviews scattered throughout the site in the breaks between sections. Finally, “Links” has links to the source novel, the soundtrack and the Facebook page.

One social media promotion in particular didn’t go over very well. The studio’s UK account Tweeted an image of Elio and Marzia looking fondly at each other with copy touting the intensity of the romance in the story. The implication being that this is the romance that’s depicted and not the one between Elio and Oliver.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There didn’t seem to be any TV advertising done but there was this 30-second spot shared by Landmark Theaters that hits a coupe of the high points in terms of the angst being shared, the beautiful locations of the story and the dynamic between at least some of the characters. While I didn’t see any, I’m sure some online advertising was done as well, particularly in the select markets the film opens in this weekend.

Media and Publicity

The first bit of publicity came when it was announced the movie would have its official premiere at Sundance 2017. A first look still from the movie came out around that same time. It was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics before that screening, which garnered almost universal praise and a whole cottage industry of positive word-of-mouth. Sony then scheduled it to screen at the New York Film Festival. It also screened on the opening night of the Toronto Film Festival, where it continued racking up significant positive buzz.

A substantial profile of Hammer allowed the actor to talk about the unexpected and unconventional path his career has taken, his initial reaction to reading the script for this movie and much more. That was also the focus of this profile which talked about his career and personal life and how despite a series of setbacks on both fronts, this seems to be the year things are coming together for him.

There was also attention paid to Chalamet, who’s having quite the year himself in both this movie and the recent indie smash Lady Bird. In that extended interview he talks about how he’s gotten to this point in his career along with how he balances the personal and professional.

Hammer did some publicity and media rounds, as did Chalamet, to talk up the movie. There was even a profile of the sets of the film and how the designer recreated a very specific look for the story.


Sony has put together a nice campaign for the movie that emphasizes not only the emotions felt by Elio and Oliver but, of course, the gorgeous locations in which the story takes place. This *looks* like a high-end art film that is going to have limited appeal in the mainstream audience. At a time when not only homophobia but nativism and anti-intellectualism are all rampant, making a movie about two gay men visiting Italy because of their work or relation to a history professor means some people will reject the story on its face.

To counter that there’s been a strong word of mouth campaign resulting from festival screenings that has sold the movie to the niche audience it seems meant to reach and resonate with. The focus on Hammer is particularly notable since for a few years now Hollywood has tried to turn him into a marquee star but here he’s clearly more comfortable in the role of character actor, presenting a more human front when selling the film as opposed to being overshadowed by the stunts and more.


Sony Pictures Classics has come under fire by those who don’t feel it supported the film adequately or did enough to raise its profile to a mainstream audience. Tom Brueggmann at IndieWire pushes back against some of the main arguments and finds them all wanting, bringing receipts to support his case.
Breakout star Timothée Chalamet has been getting a lot of attention during awards season and that includes this much-shared GQ profile on the young actor.