It seems the McConaissance may have been as short-lived as people feared. The Dazed and Confused star is, after a brief period of acclaim in a number of starring roles, back to the kind of mid-level dramas he was once consigned to. This week that’s exemplified by Serenity, in which he costars with Anne Hathaway.
In the movie McConaughey plays Baker Dill, a low key fishing boat captain with a mysterious past in a small island town. His efforts to not be noticed are disturbed when his ex-wife Karen (Hathaway) appears. She wants his help for a very disturbing task: Killing her current husband (Jason Clarke). Her arrival and the burden placed on him lead him to question a great deal of what he’s come to understand.
McConaughey and Hathaway are shown on the one-sheet split apart by a massive red tear that we see is the wake being left by a boat visible further down the image. In that red wake are the names of the stars. The mysterious nature of the story and its location are spelled out – or at least hinted at – in the copy placed above the title treatment.
It’s not a bad design, offering big photos of the two primary stars and doing a good job of explaining to the audience what’s going on. It’s not wholly memorable, but it’s memorable in its own way even if it looks like the cover to a book you consider buying at the airport but ultimately can’t commit to.
Jack is a man who’s trying to outrun his past in the first trailer, just wanting to remain largely anonymous and fish in a small New England town. His plans are interrupted by the appearance of his ex-wife, there to convince him to utilize his skills to kill her current husband, who she claims is violent toward her. The rest of the trailer is about him looking for a way to avoid doing what Karen has asked and maintain the simple lifestyle he’s built up, though it’s not looking like that’s likely for him.
It’s a dramatic thriller being sold her, something that reminds me in tone of movies like Pacific Heights and others. It’s all about hidden agendas, searching for the truth, not wanting to give into temptation and so on. McConaughey is who he is, but Hathaway and Lane look outstanding here, with the former giving off a very Barbara Stanwyck-esque vibe.
The second trailer, released in late November, strikes a similar tone but comes at the story slightly differently. It drops the connection between Jack and Karen, instead selling it as a mystery of bizarre circumstances, where Jack and the others don’t know exactly where they are or how they got there.
Online and Social
The official website established by Aviron Pictures doesn’t offer much in the way of overly-useful information beyond the basic material and content. There are sections devoted to a couple giveaways involving island vacations or gear, but that’s about it.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
The second trailer was used as a promoted post on Twitter after it was released.
Entertainment Weekly partnered with the studio on a sweepstakes awarding a winner a trip to the Dutch Caribbean, appropriate given the movie’s location.
Media and Publicity
An early production still featuring Hathaway and McConaughey constituted everyone’s first real look at the movie. Later on it was finally picked up for distribution by Aviron Pictures.
Things went dark for quite a while between those two events, but as release neared Hathaway started appearing on late night television, McConaughey showed up during football game broadcasts and elsewhere, and a clip or two was distributed to media. Hathaway was also the subject of a quick feature interview.
Not much happening here. This seems like a lackluster campaign for a movie that very much fits the definition of the “dump it in January” release, the kind of mid-grade drama that’s high concept enough to be interesting but not interesting enough to get people to come out of the cold. There’s a distinct lack of effort in not putting both stars out there more for the media, but that may simply be because they have other, more important things for them to be promoting.
Picking Up the Spare
In the last few days before the movie hit theaters a number of clips like this one were released.
Both Hathaway and McConaughey continued doing press and TV appearances.