Together Together – Marketing Recap

How Bleecker Street sold a very modern relationship dramady.

(Ed. Note: Yep, another case where the movie came out last week but I didn’t want to miss covering it.)

Together Together, starring Ed Helms and Patti Harrison and written/directed by Nikole Beckwith, came out a couple weeks ago in limited release but went into wider release last weekend. Harrison stars as Anna, a currently unattached woman who agrees to be a surrogate for similarly single Matt (Helms). As the pregnancy progresses the two grow closer, but in unexpected ways that surprise both of them as it’s not about romance but simply about being together in an uncommon way.

That unusual take on the idea of what companionship means comes through in Bleecker Street’s marketing, which emphasizes how Anna and Matt feel each other out tentatively and cautiously as they navigate their complicated relationship. The movie has a 91% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Posters

Both Matt and Anna look out at the camera on the poster (by marketing agency Cold Open). The two are sitting in front of a wall that has color samples taped to it, like they’re figuring out how to decorate a room, but there’s nothing that hints at the pregnancy aspects of the story. A handful of positive pull quotes from festival screenings are placed at the top to help show how well-received the movie has already been.

The Trailers

Matt is being super-awkward as he meets Anna as the trailer (2.6 million views on YouTube), released in late March, begins. That awkwardness doesn’t really stop as the pregnancy begins and continues, of course, though Anna tries to remain a good sport about everything that’s going on. The two find an equilibrium to their unusual relationship, though, including that they’re both alone and don’t fit into anyone’s neat boxes. It’s a cute unconventional comedy being sold here, buoyed by the performances from the two leads, especially Harrison.

Online and Social

The basic information – the trailer, synopsis and a small gallery of pictures – can be found on the official website created by Bleecker Street. It also received some support on the studio’s social channels.

Advertising, Press and Promotions

Before the movie had a chance to make its debut at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Bleecker Street picked it up.

During Sundance there were interviews with the movie’s editor, director of photography and director.

A clip released in April shows an awkward dinner where Matt and Anna are meeting for the first time and judging each other’s food choices. Another has Anna trying to explain her unusual friendship and situation to someone else.

Harrison got a profile of her own as the breakout star of the film based on those festival reviews. Also following Sundance, the cast and filmmakers talked about the story and making the movie together.

Closer to release there was another interview with Harrison about working with Helms, how she decided to get involved in the project and more. Helms himself appeared on “Late Night” to joke around and talk about the movie.

TV spots began running in late April offering a cutdown version of the trailer with just the broad strokes of the story. Others like this featured some of the positive reviews the movie has already accumulated. Additional commercials that came later hit the same basic ideas.

Another clip shows more of Anna contending with a situation her friend doesn’t fully understand.

Overall

What comes through most clearly in the campaign is the emphasis on Harrison and her role as Anna. She’s obviously not a star as well known as Helms but she’s been the subject of more interviews and clips, which is a great way to signal that it’s her journey that may receive more attention in the story than Matt’s. There’s nothing all that groundbreaking about what Bleecker Street has done from a purely tactical way, but those small touches show who the audience will be asked to care about most and who has the most engaging arc.

The World To Come – Marketing Recap

How Bleecker Street is selling a 19th century love story.

Based on the book of the same name by Jim Shepard, The World To Come stars Katherine Waterston as Abigail, who’s married to Dyer (Casey Affleck), the two of them carving out a hard living on a 19th century east coast farm. They are not exactly happily married, but the distance between them grows greater with the arrival of Finney (Christopher Abbott) and his wife Tallie (Vanessa Kirby). Specifically, the supportive friendship between Abigail and Tallie soon turns passionately romantic as they seek solace from their respective loveless marriages.

Directed by Mona Fastvold from a screenplay by Ron Hansen, Jim Shepard, the movie has a decent 72% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and has gotten a campaign emphasizing the hopeful but doomed romance between the two women.

The Posters

Released in mid-January, the one poster (by marketing agency The Refinery) takes a common design – three vertical strips with a single photo in each one – and actually uses it to good effect. Dyer and Finney are at the top and bottom while Tallie and Abigail are placed in the middle, literally pushing their husbands away from them. The fire engulfing a house behind the two women hints at a tragic outcome to the story while the dark colors convey the relentless dreariness that makes up the lives of the characters.

The Trailers

Bleecker Street released the first trailer (1m views on YouTube) in mid-January. It starts out with a lot of sheep on Abigail and Dyer’s bleak farm. Abigail’s life is improved by the arrival of their new neighbor Tallie and her husband Finney, with the two women growing closer and closer over time, a romance born of the hardships each endures in their respective marriages. That change does not go unnoticed, and problems soon follow as the women seek to be happy with each other instead of miserable elsewhere.

Online and Social

The full-screen video on the movie’s official website uses bits from the trailer, but the content on the site is minimal. There are links to where the film will be available to download and rent along with the trailer, a synopsis and not much else.

Advertising and Promotions

The movie debuted at the 2020 Venice Film Festival, where it accumulated a number of positive reviews and good word of mouth. Bleecker Street acquired the film shortly after that premiere.

The movie was among those scheduled to screen at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

A clip came out during Sundance showing the moment when Abigail and Tallie first meet. Another shows a climactic moment between the two women as they discuss their relationship.

Media and Press

A profile of Kirby from early September included this as one of a couple highly-anticipated projects she was involved in. A few months later Waterston talked about crafting and filming an LGBTQ love story.

During the Sundance press cycle there were interviews with the film’s director of photography, director and editor.

Affleck appeared on “Late Night” to talk about filming the movie in Romania. There was also a joint video interview by GLAAD of both Waterston and Kirby.

Additional interviews with Waterston had her talking about working with Kirby and telling a story set so long ago and trying to make it relevant to the present.

Overall

The performances by Waterston and Kirby are the standout elements of the campaign here, with the chemistry between the two driving the drama that’s on display. It’s good that they provide such heat, too, because the rest of the marketing is very grey and cold, which could turn off some of the audience who might feel it’s a bit too drab for their liking.

Between this and the recent Ammonite, though, we have a small trend building of forbidden lesbian romance period pieces. I’m not sure what that means, especially if there’s something about setting the story a century or more in the past that makes the story more dramatic. Whatever the case, Bleecker Street’s campaign highlights the positive reviews the movie has received so far while selling a story filled with tension and romance.

Supernova – Marketing Recap

How Bleecker Street has sold a romance of celebrating a life together.

In the new movie Supernova, written and directed by Harry Macqueen, Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth play Tusker and Sam, respectively, a married couple dealing with an unfortunate reality. Namely, Tusker has been diagnosed with dementia and is losing his memory of their life together. So the couple has decided to take an extended RV road trip before his condition gets worse, checking in with friends and family and revisiting some of their favorite places from their relationship.

Bleecker Street has sold the movie, which has an 88% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a sweet, gentle campaign based around the relationship at the heart of the story.

The Posters

Sam and Tusker are shown in a close embrace on the single poster (by marketing agency The Posterhuse) that came out in mid-September of last year. There’s no tagline or other copy, but the scenic photo in the background of what I’m guessing is the English countryside certainly helps establish the story’s setting. And the star chart superimposed over all that is a nice touch considering what else we’ll see in the campaign.

The Trailers

The first trailer (784k views on YouTube) was released in early January, starting out by showing how Sam and Tusker are taking a road trip together, something they’ve done frequently in the past. They’re out visiting family and friends and revisiting some of their old haunts in part because Tusker is losing his memory and they want to have one last outing together before it gets worse. It’s funny and emotional and sweet, all focused on the performances of Tucci and Firth.

Online and Social

Not much on the studio’s official website for the film. In addition to just a small amount of marketing material the site is focused primarily on helping people buy tickets to the movie’s limited theatrical showings or via various VOD platforms.

Advertising and Promotions

The movie screened at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in September and the screened at BFI Film Festival in October. That same month Bleecker Street acquired the film.

A clip came out after the trailer showing Tusker embarrassing Sam – in a nice way – at a roadside diner. Another shows the couple in a tender moment first glimpsed in the trailer.

Media and Press

The two leads spoke about how they worked on the details of their characters’ relationship, how they each got involved with the film and more. Similar ground was covered in another interview where they and Macqueen revealed the parts were initially meant for the other actor before they proposed switching.

Both Firth and Tucci appeared on “The Late Show” while Tucci showed up by himself on “Late Night.”

Overall

If you remember a movie called The Leisure Seeker from a few years ago, you’ll know this is just one of a few recent movies that have dealt with couples navigating the difficult terrain of one member no longer being fully present mentally. The difference here is not only in the sexuality of the couple in question but in how Tusker and Sam are still relatively young. While the overall trend of dementia-related movies may be in part a reaction to the aging of the Baby Boom generation, this one dials the character ages back several years to show a couple that should still be in its prime.

The marketing itself is very nice, but I do have to note that the campaign seems to downplay the relationship between the leads to some extent. That’s not to say that it’s completely ignored or overlooked, but it also doesn’t seem to emphasize that the two are more than just close friends, despite the fact that the personal friendship between Tucci and Firth is a cornerstone of the campaign.

2020’s Nine Most Intriguing Movie Campaigns

Even a dumpster fire can yield some interesting results.

If compiled, the articles, think-pieces and hot takes written between March and December of 2020 on the present and future of movies and theater-going would fill volumes rivaling the collected works of Marcel Proust, though they would be far easier to summarize.

A year unlike any other certainly proved even more disruptive to aspects of the film industry – production, distribution and exhibition alike – than anything like MoviePass or other threats once held to be dire could have dreamed. No one could have engineered a scenario where over 90 percent of the nation’s movie theaters would close for months at a time, studios would shut down filming on major motion pictures and so on ad infinitum because of a virus outbreak around the globe.

All of that, as well as the pivot by studios and media owners to streaming, upended, delayed or otherwise altered a great many movie marketing efforts. That doesn’t mean 2020 didn’t have plenty of interesting campaigns, though. It just means in some cases what made them “interesting” or otherwise notable was a little different than what would have qualified in prior years.

More than anything else, 2020 was a year of unexpected firsts. WarnerMedia finally launched HBO Max and offered a number of original films before announcing it would be home to its entire 2021 theatrical release slate. Disney rushed Onward over to Disney+ before later using it for titles like Hamilton and Soul that otherwise would have gone to theaters and for Mulan as a test for a new pricing model. Paramount sold off many of its titles to Netflix or Amazon. Apple released a handful of original features while trying to provide Apple TV+ with some momentum. Universal essentially reinvented and reinvigorated PVOD.

So, with all that said, these are some of the most intriguing movie marketing campaigns of a year for which “intriguing” is such an understatement as to almost be irresponsible.

Mank

Why It Made The Cut: Many campaigns for period films include some element or another meant to evoke the era the story takes place in. No movie takes that as far as Netflix’s Mank, where the whole campaign was designed to seem as if the film were being released in the late 1930s/early 1940s, just like Citizen Kane. Trailers were cut and narrated in the style of that period, posters were designed to look similar to the kinds of one-sheets seen then and more. It shows something unique can be created if the marketing team goes all-in on a concept.

Mulan

Why It Made The Cut: The campaigns for many movies that had their release plans changed dramatically saw subsequent alterations made to their marketing campaigns. Few were as innovative as Disney’s shift of Mulan. Not only was the film sent directly to Disney+ (as well as limited theaters), but the introduction of a “Premier Access” PVOD tier to that streaming platform set this one apart from the others. By all accounts this experiment was a success, one that may be replicated with other titles in the future. It also essentially set the stage for what Warner Bros. would wind up doing with HBO Max beginning with Wonder Woman 1984, though Disney remains committed to sending its Marvel Studios titles exclusively to theaters.

Yifei Liu GIF by Walt Disney Studios - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Assistant

Why It Made The Cut: Few films felt as timely as The Assistant, which came out at the same time Hollywood was dealing with not only the continued fallout of Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace due to sexual harassment and assault but also the burgeoning protests by assistants in the industry over lack of adequate pays and other mistreatment. While other campaigns made big, flashy statements to audiences, this one played it so quiet and understated it sometimes fell off the radar, but kept coming back to show how powerful the story and performances were.

Birds of Prey

Why It Made The Cut: Before May of last year, Warner Bros. and DC Films seemed to be actively apologizing for the dark, dystopian tone (not to mention storytelling shortcomings) of earlier films from Zack Snyder and David Ayer. The campaign for Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) was part of that, presenting a new take on the best character to come out of Suicide Squad that freed Harley Quinn from the male gaze and other traps. In contrast to some of those earlier movies, this campaign was funny, bright and full of women taking their power back. It was also one of the last major fully-theatrical campaigns of the year before things got weird.

Harley Quinn Smile GIF by Birds Of Prey - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Invisible Man

Why It Made The Cut: Universal’s unsuccessful effort to launch its Dark Universe film franchise on the back of 2017’s The Mummy is legendary as a case study in corporate hubris. That made the campaign for The Invisible Man so notable as it not only looked like a powerful and compelling story in its own right but also was the first example of the studio’s new approach of making smaller movies driven by creative filmmakers, not the dictates of a shared cinematic universe.

Universal GIF by The Invisible Man - Find & Share on GIPHY

Trolls World Tour/Scoob!

Why It Made The Cut: These two kid-targeted movies were some of the earliest efforts by their respective studios into the burgeoning world of premium video-on-demand, an avenue theater owners had kept off-limits for a decade. Most notably, each represented early adoption of the studio-hosted watch party, encouraging fans to engage in a communal but remote viewing experience anchored by Twitter chats. While Trolls World Tour was a first-mover, Scoob! in particular went all-out for its watch party with downloadable party packs, recipes and other items for those at home to use as part of the event.

Zac Efron Animation GIF by SCOOB! - Find & Share on GIPHY

The New Mutants

Why It Made The Cut: The New Mutants is included here simply because it actually came out after years of delays, rumors of extensive reshoots and other issues. Not only was it finally released – after a campaign that shifted over time from a horror-centric push to one that was more of a conventional super hero message – but it came out theatrically instead of, as many expected, via streaming.

Angry X-Men GIF by 20th Century Studios - Find & Share on GIPHY

Tenet

Why It Made The Cut: With so many movies coming out on PVOD or streaming, Tenet’s theatrical release is a bright shining example of a powerful stakeholder intentionally not reading the room. The film’s massively disappointing box-office performance shows there was no audience in September willing to brave theater-going in sufficient numbers, a lesson so well-learned by Warner Bros. it’s cited as being a major reason for the studio’s decision to send #WW84 and eventually all its 2021 releases to HBO Max. It would rather anger directors, agents, production partners and others than go through that again, and with good reason.

Coming Robert Pattinson GIF by Regal - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Happiest Season

Why It Made The Cut: Few films of late have tried so hard – and to a great extent so successfully – to redefine an entire genre as The Happiest Season. Its holiday-centric campaign was perfectly in keeping with the movie’s story, and the emphasis on providing a new take on the Christmas movie category was felt throughout the marketing by Hulu.

Christmas GIF by HULU - Find & Share on GIPHY

HONORABLE MENTION – Emma

Just for this GIF.

Military Wives – Marketing Recap

How Bleecker Street is selling an inspirational drama.

military wives posterToo many times, movies and other stories are only interested in women or wives to the extent that the male lead leaves, embarking on whatever mission or job he might have. The wife or girlfriend is only seen as waiting helplessly for them to return, usually with tears in her eyes as she hugs the small child they have. Half of these movies star Mark Wahlberg.

Military Wives is about a group of women who do something for themselves as well as their community while their soldier husbands are deployed away from home. Directed by Peter Cattaneo and written by Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard, the movie stars Kristin Scott Thomas as Kate and Sharon Horgan as Lisa, two of those wives. All the women are very different, united by their status as the ones left behind, and the support group they belong to is having trouble deciding on an activity to pass the time. When they opt to form a singing group they find themselves as well as the community around them inspired and moved in ways they weren’t expecting.

The movie’s campaign has been as uplifting and funny as you’d expect from such a story, focusing on the relationships between a disparate group of adult women and the bonds they form and lives they touch.

The Posters

Just one poster, dropping this past February, for the domestic U.S. release. Lisa and Kate are shown in the foreground standing back to back with songbook in hand while the rest of the group is seen behind them to make it clear there are a lot of characters we’ll be following. Copy below the title reads “United they sing,” a nice way of communicating both the activity they participate in and the emotional value they get from it. At the very top the audience is told this comes from the director of The Full Monty, though I’m not sure what cache that movie still has.

The Trailers

Kate and Lisa are just two of the women we meet in February’s first trailer (2.3 million views on YouTube), which opens as their husbands are leaving on yet another service deployment. The group comes together in a support group to keep themselves busy and decide to form a makeshift singing group. Initial attempts get off to a rough start, but when everyone loosens up and starts having some fun things turn around. It’s clear the group will deal with the realities of their situation but thanks to those around them they have a support system to get them through the hard times.

Online and Social

There’s not much on Bleecker Street’s official website for the movie other than the basic marketing content. Because of the changes in release (more on that below) there are also links to and other information on various digital platforms where the film will be released.

Advertising and Promotions

Bleecker Street acquired distribution rights shortly after the movie’s well-received debut at the Toronto Film Festival.

A clip showing the group of women singing in a tunnel and discovering that might be something to explore was released in March.

In late April a new promo spot touted the change made by the distributor to release the movie not only to whatever drive-in theaters might be open in the U.S. but also to Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Hulu.

Additional spots have been released over the last few weeks to continue raising awareness of the new digital release plans. Those spots have focused on the women forming the singing group, the way their efforts lift people’s spirits and more.

There was also a short featurette that had the stars and filmmakers talking about the story and characters portrayed in the movie.

Media and Press

Cattaneo spoke during Toronto about the story’s mix of humor and drama and what sort of tone he wanted to strike with the movie.

An interview with Scott-Thomas had her talking about how while the story takes place in the past it’s still very relevant given countless service members continue to be regularly deployed across the world.

Overall

The studio’s campaign promises there will be a few moments of laughs, a few moments of tears and a few moments of heartfelt smiles in the film. Trailers and TV spots make the basic outlines of the story pretty clear and show what the overall arc is, meaning audiences can feel comfortable in choosing a movie that seems familiar and safe, like known quantity ahead of time.

In one way it’s unique among the others like it that have drastically pivoted their release strategy in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unlike others, it is still coming from its original distributor and wasn’t offloaded to the service. Nor is it being pushed solely to a premium VOD model. So Bleecker Street still wants to own this, just without being tied to a theatrical model.

There’s not much about the campaign that might catch people’s interest in a normal environment, but a feel-good story in the middle of so much uncertainty may hit just the right chord, especially since it will be so widely available.

The Assistant – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for The Assistant at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

It’s a pretty simple official website, with just the minimum material on there to help visitors get the big picture of the movie and find where and when it might be playing near them.

Media and Press

An interview with director Kitty Green allowed her to talk about how she prepared for the film and what kind of message she wanted to send with it. She hit similar topics in another interview here.

EW debuted an exclusive clip of Jane bringing her concerns to light.

Garner appeared on “Late Night” to talk about the movie.

Overall

Notably, this movie seems to be garnering much stronger reactions than the flashier, more star-power heavy Bombshell, which touches on similar subject matter. There’s probably a lesson to be learned there on how flash and effectiveness aren’t always the same thing.

Picking Up The Spare

Another clip was released, this one showing the meeting where Jane brings her concerns to light and is rebuffed.

Green talked about how many studios were wary of producing her movie given the subject matter. In another interview she made it clear she’s not the inspiration for the main character. Garner also commented on the story and how it’s meant to be about more than just the entertainment industry.

During the Berlin Film Festival Green talked about the need for more stories with women as the focus.

The Tomorrow Man – Marketing Recap

tomorrow man posterThis week’s The Tomorrow Man is the latest in a string of movies about finding romance late in life. Blythe Danner plays Ronnie, a compulsive shopper who’s constantly buying things she feels she needs but will likely never use. She meets Ed (John Lithgow), a man who can’t stop planning for the worst case scenario, including terrible disasters.

When they meet they find the other may be someone they need in their lives, but they’re coming at life from very different points of view. As the two form a deeper connection those contrasts come out but so do the ways they may balance each other out, bringing out in the other the best tendencies.

The Posters

Ed and Ronnie are shown from the back on the poster, the pair standing in the back of a pickup and looking out over the sunset above a peaceful landscape. There’s no additional copy explaining the story but this does sell a peaceful story of two people who have found each other.

The Trailers

Ed meets Ronnie in the first trailer and the two start spending more time together just to not be alone. Things get deeper, though, as they expose more parts of their personality to each other, an uncomfortable experience for both of them. That includes how they are or aren’t preparing for the future. They meet each other’s families and while things get a bit weird the two come back to each other in the end.

Online and Social

The page on Bleecker Street’s website for the movie doesn’t have much, just the trailer and a synopsis. There’s also a link to an open letter writer/director Noble Jones wrote on the Landmark Theaters website detailing his inspiration for the story and the message he wanted to send.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

After the first trailer was released in late March it was used in promoted social media posts to increase reach and awareness.

Media and Publicity

Even before it premiered at Sundance the movie was picked up by Bleecker Street and given a May release date. Director Noble Jones was interviewed about the production of the movie and using a surprising number of special effects in the film while Lithgow admitted he had concerns about working with a first-time director, concerns that were allayed when he met with Jones.

The first clip showed Ronnie and Ed meeting up, the former unsure of what it is she wants to know about the latter as they just begin spending time together. A few more clips that continued showing the halting, sometimes awkward relationship between the characters came out over time.

Closer to release there was a joint interview with Jones and the two lead actors where they shared some of their history and talked about the story and working together. Lithgow appeared on “The Tonight Show” to share funny stories and promote the movie a bit.

Overall

As with most movies of this kind recently, it feels like there just could be so much more there. Danner and Lithgow are some big names, but the fact that this isn’t a franchise film but a smaller drama about two older people cautiously falling in love means it has limited box-office appeal and so isn’t getting a marketing push with much weight.

That dynamic between the two lead characters – something that seems like it should be a stage production – is the focus of the push with little attention given to whatever sort of societal commentary Jones might be wanting to make with two characters with such starkly opposing worldviews. Adding more of that might have done something to break the movie out from others of its ilk, but the very nature of the subject matter means this wasn’t likely to break through beyond a limited audience.

Teen Spirit – Marketing Recap

teen spirit posterTeen Spirit is the latest movie in the last several months about a woman making her way in the music industry. Written and directed by Max Minghella, this one stars Elle Fanning as Violet, a young woman who dreams of being a super star and so auditions for a TV singing competition show.

Violet gets the attention of the producers and others who think she has something special and want to take her beyond what the show might offer and farther than what her family, who’s guided her so far, is capable of. Entranced by the idea of making it big, Violet sets off but finds that fame comes with a trade off she didn’t anticipate.

The Posters

Just one poster for the movie showing Violet in close up as she leans in toward the mic, a bright purple light drenching her face. It shows the music industry setting of the story and that the focus is on the performance, though the slightly vacant look in Violet’s eyes show she’s not fully processing what’s happening to and around her, or is having a hard time dealing with it.

The Trailers

The first teaser, released at the time the movie was screening in Toronto, paints an enigmatic picture as we see Violet at all stages of her career, from auditioning to commanding the stage at a massive audience. We also see the rough, hedonistic lifestyle that comes with that fame and recognition.

Later on an official trailer starts out by showing Violet’s life before hitting it big, following her from farm through the preparation for appearing on a singing competition to becoming more famous than she imagined. It ends with a list of the artists appearing in or lending their music to the movie.

The second trailer expands on the background shown in the first, explaining where she starts out and the kinds of obstacles she has in front of her. Violet is constantly being torn between told music is a business or a passion, leading to conflict and turmoil with everyone around her. Other than that this is the same message sent before, about the dangers of getting what you wished for.

Online and Social

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A TV spot from March played like a short version of the second trailer, showing the path Violet is lead down in the hopes of becoming famous.

Media and Publicity

In one of its first big publicity pops, the movie was slated to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in early September, with Fanning talking around that time about how the role allowed her to be a pop star for a bit. Distribution rights were picked up during Toronto by Mickey Liddell, though what sort of release that meant remained unclear at the time.

While at Toronto, Fanning spoke about what she admired about her character and how she overall identified with her.

A bit later an exclusive clip was shared with EW. Another clip offered a full version of Violet performing “Dancing On My Own” as we see footage of her singing or other scenes from the film.

Fanning was interviewed about the story as well as the training she underwent to prepare to play a singer in the movie. For Vogue she talked music and created a playlist of her favorite songs at the moment. She also showed up on “The Tonight Show” to sing and dance with Jimmy Fallon and continued to talk about how music has always been a big part of her life. Minghella also weighed in on the inspiration for the story.

The focus on the music continued when Interscope Records released an official video for “Wildflowers,” performed by Fanning on the movie’s soundtrack.

Overall

Fanning is the real star here in much the same way she was in the campaign for The Neon Demon, another movie that cast her as an ambitious ingenue seeking stardom in a glamourous industry. Like that movie – as well as the campaigns for others about women in the music industry – we see her rise to stardom and the costs of achieving the success she’s dreamt of.

It’s also similar to some of those other campaigns in that it uses stark lighting as a way to communicate the character’s moods and actions, this time with singular bright lights on Violet to show her performing and reacting to her new trappings. The movie is sold as a character arc from naive amateur to overwhelmed celebrity, but also hints at the downside of fame when it comes from going against who you really are.

Picking Up the Spare

There’s a new video for Fanning’s version of “Dancing On My Own” that was released by the studio. Also a featurette that focused on the story of the movie. while another focused on the music. 

Director Max Minghella was profiled about his move behind the camera and why he decided to make the switch. 

Hotel Mumbai – Marketing Recap

hotel mumbai posterDev Patel plays Arjun in the new movie Hotel Mumbai. Based on true events, Arjun is a server and clerk at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai circa 2008 when a group of terrorists bring violence to the city. That includes invading the hotel and killing guests and staff, taking others hostage.

Arjun is one of several individuals who manage to evade death or capture. They band together to try and either escape the hotel or take down the attackers. While Arjun and the other staff are committed to protecting their guests, two visiting Americans just want to keep their newborn child safe.

The Posters

hotel mumbai poster2Appropriately, the interior of a hotel room is featured on the first poster. The bathtub with flower petals, the elegant chair against the wall and more all convey the luxurious nature of the establishment. That’s countered, though, when you notice the discarded phone left on the chair and the bullet holes in the wall.

The second one-sheet ups the message of danger, showing the silhouette of an AK-47, the skyline of the city growing out of the top of the rifle. Headshots of the lead cast appear at the top while copy above those photos tells us we’re watching the events of a true story.

The Trailers

Much like many other dramas, the first trailer starts off by showing a devoted husband and father – in this case Arjun – leaving his family for what he thinks will be a normal day at work. We’re introduced to the operations of the Taj Hotel and some of its current guests before we see terrorists begin to wreak havoc on the city of Mumbai, eventually coming to the hotel. Taken hostage, the guests and staff eventually begin to work together to take on the attackers as they see fighting back or risking escape as the only way to survive.

Online and Social

In addition to the usual mix of the trailer and other content, Bleecker Street’s official website has plenty of information and background on the real events that inspired the movie. That’s good and exactly the kind of primer and education that should be offered when a film is based on a true story.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’m directly aware of, though there was likely some online advertising done. If not there probably will be as the movie opens and expands.

Media and Publicity

A strong positive reaction resulted from the movie’s screening at the Toronto Film Festival. In late February Bleecker Street put out a featurette including comments from Patel about how he remembers the events depicted in the story and wanted to be part of the project.

Clips were released a few weeks later showing pivotal moments from the story including the hostages rallying together and risking action in order to survive.

Patel and costar Armie Hammer made a few TV and other media appearances as well to talk up the movie.

Overall

The campaign never really plays to its strength, among those being Patel’s charm and charisma. While the true story is dramatic and gripping in its own right, the marketing only communicates that fitfully, getting too bogged down in the melodrama of the characters’ fight to escape. What’s missing is anything that makes this story unique and compelling, an area that could have used Patel’s persona and likability.

Picking Up the Spare

The movie’s director spoke about how releasing it so soon after a terrorist attack wasn’t ideal, but those are so common there’s no good time ever. He also doesn’t want you to think the movie takes it too easy on the terrorists.

Patel got the feature profile treatment.

What They Had – Marketing Recap

what they had posterIn the new movie What They Had the drama is very personal. The story focuses on a family headed by Burt (Robert Forster) and Ruth (Blythe Danner), the latter of whom is sliding further and further into dementia and other problems. Their grown children Bridget (Hilary Swank) and Nick (Michael Shannon) return home to help and deal with what’s happening with their mother.

They encourage Burt to seek help and place Ruth somewhere she can be more well cared for. But he’s not having it, determined to keep her with him through whatever might come. That’s not a popular decision and leads to some awkward conversations, but the point is to not split up the family.

The Posters

“A family united by the past. Divided by the present.” Aside from my questioning of the sentence structure there, the poster sells a family drama as it shows all five main characters walking away from the camera, a giant flower arrangement in the background. A few positive quotes from early screenings appear toward the top.

The Trailers

The first trailer gives us the basic outlines of the story, that Bridget and Nicky are both dealing with the failing health and memory of their mother while also handling their own situations, and presents a strong drama with a lot of great actors. The family dynamic is most on display as we see the brother and sister try to make decisions and do what’s best for their parents while also seeing that Burt is unwilling to consider any option that puts his wife of so many decades in a nursing home. It’s full of big moments, but the case is really going to be made in the smaller ones that maybe aren’t shown here.

Online and Social

Bleecker Street offered its usual variety of content on the movie’s official website, including the trailer, a synopsis, a few links to interviews and a bit more. There are also links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A TV spot from early October focused on the critical praise earned by both the movie as a whole and the specific members of the cast.

Media and Publicity

The movie was announced as one of those screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, which also featured a handful of conversations with the movie’s cast and crew.

An uncomfortable family moment is at the heart of the first clip, as Nicky shares an awkward encounter he’s had.

Overall

There’s a strong focus in the campaign on Swank, with this kind of positioned as a return by the actress to the mainstream limelight. That’s great since she’s always been a talent who Hollywood only rarely understood how to utilize.

It also sells a powerful drama about a family dealing with a very difficult situation and trying to get through it with a mix of reality and humor. While it’s Danner and Forster who provide the focus of the conflict, it’s Swank and Shannon that seem to have the emotional arc.

Picking Up The Spare

A few articles have shown up similar to this one that covers Robert Forster’s long acting career.

There’s also a new featurette from Bleecker Street with the cast discussing the story and their characters. And the studio put out another clip focusing on Forster.