How Lionsgate is selling a comedy about…well…something, I’m sure.
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is a movie that’s been in development and pre-production for a number of years, back to shortly after Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo had a hit in 2011 with Bridesmaids. Now it’s finally coming to PVOD via Lionsgate.
Mumolo and Wiig star as Barb and Star, respectively, two lifelong best friends who finally embark on a long-planned vacation to Vista Del Mar, Florida, where they expect to have lots of fun in the sun. Instead, in true comedic fashion, they get mixed up in a criminal plot to kill everyone in town and other hijinks.
Given the pedigree of those involved, let’s see how Lionsgate has sold the long-gestating film.
The two friends are seen only from the neck down as they descend from the bright blue sky on the first poster (by marketing agency Leroy and Rose), released in mid-December. Of course it calls out the fact that the same team brought audiences Bridesmaids.
On the second poster (by marketing agency P+A), released in January, we still don’t see the faces of the main characters, who this time are sitting in a giant clamshell, surrounded by pink flamingos, leaping dolphins and other decorations that scream “Florida!” Copy at the top reads “The friendship we all want. The vacation we all need.”
There are even more sea and beach items scattered around the design of the final poster, released later last month. We finally see Barb and Star’s faces this time as they ride a giant shrimp while they happily hold fancy cocktails, the resort where the story’s action takes place in the background.
The first trailer (153k views on YouTube) finally came out in early January. Labeled a “teaser,” the spot takes a meta approach, centered around Barb and Star discussing how much they love movie trailers. Only a few scenes, none of which show the faces of the two leads, are shared, but you still get the very pastel vibe of the film.
The next trailer (5.6 million views on YouTube), released at the end of January, starts out by having a bit of fun with a “Stranger Things” vibe, right down to the title treatment font and music. From there we see just how awkward the two are, though they’re very comfortable with who they are and the choices they’ve made. There’s not much story on display here, it’s just about the laughs, which works just fine.
Online and Social
You’ll find information about the movie and where to rent it on the official website, but not much else. There were promos and other updates shared on the social profiles created by Lionsgate, including stickers and GIFs on the movie’s Giphy channel.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Lionsgate released the first photo from the movie in early July, 2020 to get conversations started. Things remained quiet until January, when the studio announced a mid-February PVOD release.
A short while after the teaser trailer came out a “Fashion Video” was released showing a number of women wearing some of their finest vacation outfits on a picturesque beach.
That was followed by a clip of Barb and Star checking into their hotel room, which is super-exciting. Additional clips, including one sharing a…provocative…song that’s played at the resort the pair visit, followed over the next couple weeks.
A short video purported to be a Zoom call between some of the characters.
TV spots like this started running in early February that, like the trailers, don’t worry about the story, instead selling the movie as just a good laugh from the Bridesmaids creative team.
Additional spots took a similar approach.
Finally, Lionsgate put out a comedic instructional video on how you can watch the movie.
Media and Publicity
An interview with Mumolo and Wiig included them talking about the script, the creative origins of the characters and more, including the story behind the long delay in getting the film made.
Trayce Gigi Field, the movie’s costume designer, was interviewed about creating the unique fashions worn by the two main characters as well as the rest of the cast.
Dornan spoke about the film when he appeared on “Kimmel.” Wiig then appeared on “The Late Show” to talk about how long she and Mumolo have been working on the film and how much fun it was to finally film it.
That same topic was covered in a feature profile of the two collaborators.
There are a couple things worth calling out here.
First, it was a bold move by Lionsgate to not only keep the faces of Barb and Star hidden for the first half of the campaign, especially considering that campaign only launched in earnest a couple months ago. It’s not like the studio is hiding how some beloved pop culture figure will look, but it did create a sense of fun that works here.
Second, the constant reminders that it took Wiig and Mumolo the better part of a decade to get the film made after scoring such a big hit with Bridesmaids should serve as a reminder of how much Hollywood distrusts women, especially comedians. Meanwhile, Adam Wingard, who’s made one successful movie and runs a fetish Tumblr blog, directed the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong.
Finally, if the state of Florida hasn’t already adopted the poster designs and other graphics in its official tourism campaigns I’m not sure what we’re doing here.