The Dead Don’t Die – Marketing Recap

dead dont die poster 10Zombie movies aren’t exactly uncommon in theaters. This week’s The Dead Don’t Die offers something new though as it comes from writer/director Jim Jarmusch, a filmmaker more well known for his thoughtful and occasionally quirky low-key character dramas. Add on to that a cast that includes Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny, Adam Driver, Selena Gomez, Tom Waits and others and you have something that’s intriguing at the very least.

Murray, Sevigny and Driver play sheriff department officers in a small town that finds itself at the center of the zombie apocalypse as the dead start breaking free from their graves. Wholly untrained for this sort of thing but still responsible for the citizens in town, the officers set out to do what they can to keep the undead at bay while keeping those still alive safe.

The Posters

dead dont die posterThe first poster from early April proclaims the movie sports “The greatest zombie cast ever assembled,” the king of hyperbole that’s reminiscent of the old days of B-movie horror flicks designed to be seen in between make out sessions during a summer matinee. A single undead hand rises from the grave while the names of that impressive cast are featured on either side of the arm extending toward the night sky’s full moon.

A series of character posters came out a bit later, with each one bringing the character in question to the foreground while a zombie lurks behind them, the actor’s name highlighted in the cast list still running along both sides of the design.

 

 

The photos of Murray, Driver and Sevigny as well as costar Tilda Swinton from those posters was combined into a single image on the theatrical one-sheet, which maintains the branding and tagline seen previously.

The Trailers

The first trailer, released in early April, presents an offbeat and ridiculous zombie story. When a small town is hit by a wave of the undead it perplexes local law enforcement and just can’t be believed by anyone but eventually some of the rules are figured out and people start to take action. Overall, though, it’s a dry zombie comedy featuring great actors from a director you wouldn’t associate with such a story, which is most of the appeal here.

A restricted trailer came out a month later that had the police discussing the rules and laws of killing zombies as well as making seemingly arbitrary decisions about which residents are and aren’t informed about the dangers facing the town.

Online and Social

Focus Features’ official website opens with the second trailer. A synopsis of the story can be found once the front page loads and more photos, bios of the actors and other information is available by scrolling down the page and clicking on some of the pictures found there.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A promoted Tweet featuring the first trailer helped generate awareness and hopefully interest.

In mid-May the first TV spot was released, covering the rules for killing zombies while showing how the small town has become infested with the undead, much to the dismay of local law enforcement.

Media and Publicity

In early April it was announced the movie was selected as the opening night feature at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival. Its U.S. premiere, though, was scheduled for the New Orleans Film Festival. It also later screened at Beyond Fest, with Sevigny appearing for a Q&A with attendees.

The first clip, debuted by People, came out in mid-May showing innocent travelers asking about local hotels in exactly the way characters in horror movies usually do. A second from moviefone featured the three police officers in the town being honest about how maybe it’s not going to be OK.

While at Cannes, the cast talked about what kinds of things scare them, including Jarmusch revealing what real world topics he was dealing with using the zombie metaphor. Swinton was also interviewed about her character and working with the rest of the cast, as was Sevigney.

A feature profile of Jarmusch focused on how he got this eclectic cast – which includes some previous collaborators – together for a very unconventional project. He also talked about his love of zombie movies in another interview.

Gomez was interviewed by Jimmy Fallon about working with the other actors and what kind of shenanigans Murray played at Cannes.

Overall

While the early reviews from Cannes and elsewhere haven’t been universally positive – often because they view the film from the perspective of Jarmusch’s previous films instead of on its own merits – the zombie genre is certainly one that needs a fresh perspective. It’s one that’s morphed over the years from an allegory for assimilation and numbness to one that seems rooted in survivalist fantasies involving fear of outsiders replacing “regular” people.

The campaign doesn’t make it clear what exactly zombies are being used as a metaphor for in this movie, but that’s because it’s too busy poking fun at the genre’s conventions. The focus is on how a bunch of well-meaning but clueless law enforcement professionals are reacting – or under-reacting, as it were – to what’s unfolding around them, which is at least an original take.

Picking Up the Spare

MovieClips got an exclusive clip that featured an extended look at one of the most popular lines from the trailer. 

There’s a video for Sturgill Simpson’s title tune from the movie. Sevigny participated in a game of “This/That” for Focus. 

Lizzie – Marketing Recap

The marketing campaign for LIZZIE, about the Lizzie Borden murder case, sells a tragic romance at the end of the 19th century.

lizzie posterThe story of Lizzie Borden is one that’s captivated the American psyche for well over 100 years now, commonly being referred to as the first “celebrity” killers in the country’s history. This week’s new movie Lizzie tells her story, or at least a version of it.

Chloë Sevigny plays Lizzie, a woman well past the common marrying age for the time who still lives with her father and stepmother. One day a new housekeeper named Bridget (Kristen Stewart) comes to work at the house and eventually becomes both emotionally and physically involved with Lizzie. The older Bordon’s oppressive and abusive behavior becomes too much for the two women and, in some way, he and his wife end up dead, leading to rumor and speculation in the small Massachusetts town where they live.

The Posters

The two women stand close together on the first poster against a white background, with the light from behind them creating an ax-shaped shadow on the ground. That’s a bit on-the-nose, but it’s actually nicely countered by the positive critics’ quotes that fill the rest of the white space.

The Trailers

Lizzie’s father is not a good man, we see in the first trailer, assaulting the new housemaid almost as soon as she arrives. Bridget’s fear of him and the growing connection – which we see becomes a physical and romantic attraction – between her and Lizzie is soon found out by him and so, with all that happening, Lizzie takes violent matters into her own hands.

It’s a relatively short, or at least moderately-paced, trailer that shows off the period tone and dark story of the movie. The chemistry between Sevigny and Stewart is not only seen but praised through the appearance of quotes from early screenings that are displayed over the footage. Sparse, melancholic music plays to heighten the tension and sense of dread.

Online and Social

There’s not much happening on the official website, which just features the trailer, a synopsis and links to the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A doomed and tragic romance that ends in murder is the story sold in the first TV spot, debuting in late August. Much of the story framing from the trailer is removed in favor of pulse-pounding quick cuts and shots of desperate conversations being had. A “digital spot” a short while later kept the focus on the tension while hinting at the friendship (and more) between Lizzie and Bridget.

Media and Publicity

A first look still from the film was shared at the same time it was announced it would premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, with the movie being cited as one many critics were anxious to see there. While there the cast talked quite a bit about the film, with Sevigny commenting on the nudity at the core of one its centerpiece scenes and how this version of the story ties into the #metoo movement by being female-driven about about women reclaiming their power from men.

The buzz around the film led to a bidding war that eventually ended when Saban Films picked it up. Shortly after that Stewart addressed the timely themes of the movie as well as the realities that needed to be represented regarding how long it took for women in that period to take their clothes off and what constituted a good reason to do so.

A clip featuring a pivotal moment from the story was released just a couple days before the movie hit theaters.

Overall

The focus of the campaign is less on the murders themselves as it is on the relationship between Lizzie and Bridget. That’s what is driving the drama forward here, with the murders that someone commits being a result of that, not something separate from it. You see that in the trailer as well as in the publicity efforts.

It’s the star power of the actors involved that has the most potential to get people’s attention. My guess is the Lizzie Borden case isn’t as well known now as it was several years ago, so it’s on Stewart and Sevigny to bring out the public that has come see them in other things.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Sevigny received a substantial profile here that talked about how the movie plays into her long-term career aspirations and affinity for challenging roles.

 

Chloe Sevigny talks here about how she’s wanted to make the movie for years, largely as a way to create the kind of role she’s been looking for. She also says the legends of the real people being portrayed were prominent on set.

 

Both Sevigny and Stewart talk about the production of he movie and the kind of story they were trying to tell.
A couple additional TV spots came out just as the movie was released, one that focused on the “40 whacks” Borden allegedly gave her father and one on the relationship between Lizzie and the family’s new housekeeper.