How Focus Features sold a drama of emotional and physical escape.
(ed note: Yes, this came out last week. Let’s move on.)
Robin Wright makes her directorial debut with Land, in which she also stars. Wright plays Edee, a woman who experiences great personal tragedy and, fed up with the pressure of those around her, decides to escape to the wilderness of Wyoming. There she hopes to find solitude and peace. But she also finds the harsh environment there more dangerous than she anticipated, but gets by with the unexpected help of a local hunter named Miguel (Demián Bichir), someone who is also there to get away from it all.
Focus Features has run a relatively short campaign for a movie released in limited theaters, one with a 69% Fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating.
This is super-nerdy, but I love the comma in the middle of the copy “A story of humanity, in the face of uncertainty” on the poster (by marketing agency Cold Open), released in December. That punctuation slows down the sentence and asks the reader to pause and consider both halves and what they mean both on their own and together. Other than that, the message is simple in how it shows Edee in front of her Wyoming cabin with the callouts of the festivals the film screened at placed toward the top.
Toward the end of December the first trailer (2.8 million views on YouTube) came out, opening by showing us how Edee is grieving by moving away from everyone who just wants her to be better and get over her loss. Her life in the Wyoming wilderness is hard, though, and almost gets the better of her until others help her out. One of those people is a local hunter and recluse himself, who teaches her how to survive on her own, though it’s implied from the trailer that the two may wind up alone together by the end of the story. Still, it’s a powerful proposition made here that’s anchored by what looks to be a fearless performance by Wright.
Online and Social
The official website for the film is primarily focused on selling tickets to the limited theatrical screenings, with only a little other information available. There were also social profiles that shared various promotions and more.
Advertising and Publicity
Wright and her team brought a sales pitch for the movie to Cannes 2019. A few months later in October Focus Features acquired distribution rights.
The movie was among those scheduled to screen at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
There was also a video of a song from the film’s soundtrack performed by Ben Sollee and Time For Three.
Cinemark Theaters shared an exclusive behind the scenes featurette.
Shorter versions of the trailer were cut down and shared as promos on social media and, I imagine, elsewhere.
Media and Press
Wright talked about how she wanted to create an uplifting film and story while sharing a handful of stills from the movie.
Additional interviews with Wright had her talking about what it was like to direct herself, how real events informed her telling a story of grief, the process of shooting in such a remote location, how she directed out of necessity and more. She hit on some of those topics when she appeared on “Kimmel.”
A profile of Bicher was published in early February.
The emphasis on Wright playing roles in front of and behind the camera is great, showing how the actor is taking another step in her career, though she’s directed episodes of TV before. That’s something that’s hit time and again throughout the campaign, which is good for her and helps to differentiate the film.
Unfortunately that’s about all that does. The rest of the campaign sells a movie that we’ve seen in various forms a number of times before, though with the promise there may be something new being offered here.