The Girl In the Spider’s Web – Marketing Recap

The Girl in the Spider’s Web movie marketing campaign recap.

girl in the spiders web poster 2She was played by Noomi Rapace in the originals, then Rooney Mara in David Fincher’s stylized movie. Now Claire Foy takes on the role of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl In the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story. Based on the novel of the same name, the movie doesn’t reboot the series exactly but does offer Sony a fresh start with a new cast, even though the story does happen after the events of Fincher’s film.

That story finds Salander caught up in a conspiracy involving government officials and other powerful people. As she realizes things are aligned against her she discovers there’s a reason the attacks seem so personal: They’re being coordinated by her long-missing sister, who still bears a grudge against Lisbeth over secrets from long ago.

The Posters

girl in the spiders web posterThe first teaser poster features the same basic visual look and feel as the first movie from several years ago, all dark blues and greys around a photo of Lisbeth looking back toward the camera over her tattooed shoulder, tears coming down from her eyes. “The past never forgets” we’re told at the bottom.

Lisbeth is crouching down on the second poster, with the face of her sister looming in the background. This one sports the new branding that makes it part of the overall Dragon Tattoo series, an attempt to make sure the audience doesn’t think this is just another movie with “Girl” in the title but a continuation or expansion of the franchise related to the books they thought looked interesting as they passed an airport bookstore.

The Trailers

Lisbeth is an avenging angel – quite literally at times – in the first trailer, exacting the same cruelty on men that they show to the women in their lives. She knows all their secrets and will use them in her mission. Someone who appears to be a figure from her past appears and asks Lisbeth why she couldn’t help her, too.

It’s all very dramatic, with imposing music and the same stark imagery – sometimes very rough and violent – that the franchise is known for. This first look is just about that, reinforcing the brand in the minds of the audience without tipping too many of the story’s cards.

The second trailer is more clear in presenting the narrative arc of the movie. Lisbeth is contracted for a job that turns out to be a setup, with all clues leading back to her childhood home. When she arrives there it turns out her estranged sister is out to exact some measure of revenge for wrongs committed long ago and has substantial backup to do so. So Lisbeth has to enlist help of her own to make it through and find out why and stop her before she finished her plan.

Online and Social

The official website for the movie doesn’t offer a whole lot of information about the movie. The trailers are there along with a gallery of stills. The “About” synopsis is particularly disappointing as it still reads like an announcement of a movie that’s just been put in production, not a recap of the story for a movie that’s about to come out.

Links to the official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are all included. It’s not linked from the site, but Sony also created a Pinterest board offering visitors tips on developing Lisbeth’s unique fashion for themselves and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The second trailer was used in promoted Tweets and other posts. Other online ads used the key art or variations showing Lisbeth’s face with a red streak painted over the eyes. There are no domestic TV spots found on YouTube, but it’s likely some advertising there was done.

Media and Publicity

Some early looks at the cast – not in character, just hanging out together – preceded the movie’s inclusion as part of Sony’s CinemaCon 2018 presentation, which included some of the first footage.

Fede Alvarez spoke about why the lead role was recast following the 2011 movie in the same feature that included another new photo from the film. And Foy later commented on how the movie’s message went beyond the current #MeToo conversation to encompass all the women who have been victimized by men over the years. Alvarez added how he was reminded at all times to not make the framing of the character too sexy lest it distract from the story and work against the character’s motivations.

The film’s world premiere was eventually set to occur at the Rome Film Festival. Around that time a short vignette was released with Foy talking about where the story finds Salander and what kind of challenges she’s facing. And Alvarez spoke about how the movie has more in common with James Bond than a traditional mystery.

A clip released in late October showed Lisbeth dealing with a home invasion by some people out to kill her. Another offered an extended look at an airport sequence showing how handy she is in handling difficult situations.

The movie’s Rome premiere featured lots of glitz and glamour along with the cast speaking about the story and the production.

Alvarez later commented on how he wanted to make sure this movie, unlike previous adaptations, came from Lisbeth’s point of view. He later offered even more details on the themes of the story and how it fits into the current cultural landscape.

Foy did the TV rounds with appearances on morning and late-night talk shows. There were other appearances with other members of the cast as well.


There are two things about the campaign that have to be called out:

First, the rebranding to make this under the Dragon Tattoo franchise umbrella is interesting because not only does it indicate Hollywood’s reliance on appealing to awareness of existing properties as part of the marketing of new movies but it also is worded vaguely enough to allow for a realm of possibilities. It’s similar to the “A Star Wars Story” branding Lucasfilm has used a couple times now for stories that take us off the beaten path. That could open up new story avenues for Sony and free it from having to maintain more than token continuity between various movies, with new casts and creators coming in regularly.

Second, the official synopsis mentions that Lisbeth is once more working with journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Daniel Craig in Fincher’s movie and Sverrir Gudnason in this one) but until Alvarez mentioned that in an interview there was nothing in the campaign to call that out. That is very different from the campaign for Sony’s first Dragon Tattoo movie, which was sold as Blomkvist’s story as much as Salander’s and viewed her through his eyes.

Whether or not that’s all enough to turn out audiences seven years after the first movie remains to be seen.

Picking Up The Spare

Another clip, this one focusing on some of the cyber espionage involved in the story and focusing on Lakeith Stanfield. And another that offers some insights into Lisbeth’s past.

Foy continued to be interview about her taking on the role of Lisbeth and how she worked to define the character’s look. There was also a feature profile of her where she talked about how the role fits into her career as a whole. She was interviewed for GQ’s breakout stars issue as well. She was named as one of December’s hosts of “Saturday Night Live”

First Man – Marketing Recap

first man poster 4It’s not as if the story of NASA’s early days hasn’t been told before. From The Right Stuff to the excellent “From the Earth to the Moon” miniseries to the recent Hidden Figures, the heady era when humanity rose to the challenge Pres. Kennedy laid out to extend our reach to the stars is ground that’s been covered before.

Joining those ranks is this week’s First Man. Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong in a story that follows him as he moves toward the day when he’s given the opportunity to be the first man to walk on the moon. Along the way he must confront his own fears, face the dangers inherent in breaking new ground and comfort his wife Janet (Claire Foy) and sons as well. The movie reteams Gosling with director Damien Chazelle.

The Posters

“Experience the impossible mission to the moon” is the value proposition offered on the first poster, which shows Armstrong in his helmet and suit, the orange and red of the fiery rocket he and the others ride reflected on the glass. The second takes a broader perspective, showing a massive black plume of smoke rising toward the clouds, a bright orange spot at the top as the rocket ascends.








Armstrong’s empty flight suit is the main element on the third poster while the final one-sheet uses a similar image as the first, of Armstrong’s helmet melding into the moon and his face striking a reflective pose.

The Trailers

The first trailer does everything it can to reinforce the stakes of what Armstrong and the other early astronauts were trying to do. It’s filled with people asking him to be careful, explaining how difficult, dangerous and unprecedented the mission is, how much everyone is coming at it from a pretty negative point of view and more. Basically it’s focused on worst case scenarios, which is the opposite of most movies about the space program that focus on hope and the rush of exploration. It becomes a bit heavy-handed at times, but still works as a big-scale drama.


All that being said, it also kind of feels like a movie about Armstrong at this point is almost an answer to Hidden Figures, an attempt to reclaim the early days of NASA for white men. I’m not accusing the filmmakers of having that as their agenda, just that instead of Figures opening up the door to more stories about those who have been largely ignored in the numerous retellings of this era we get something very familiar.

Just before the movie’s debut at the Venice Film Festival in late August the second trailer was released. It carries the same general tone and structure as the first, showing how Armstrong is selected for the mission and how he handles that responsibility. The drama at home is just as strong as what’s happening at NASA as time marches on toward launch. What’s most striking about the trailer is that it presents Gosling as giving yet another nearly silent performance in a role as a stoic man who does what’s needed while still remaining sensitive to those around him. He barely has any dialogue, so everything is dependent on him looking determined but caring.



A third trailer from late September continued to display a deeply moving story of the early days of manned space exploration, once more eschewing actual dialogue in favor of narration culled from speeches by John F. Kennedy.




Online and Social

The official website for the movie features all the usual content, from the trailers to a stills gallery and so on. The one notable addition is the “AR Experience,” which offers the user a unique movie-themed experience when you load the website on your phone and point the camera at the moon.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Online ads that used the key art of Gosling as Armstrong, the outline of the moon forming the barrier of his helmet, started showing up at the time of the Venice Film Festival, driving traffic to the movie’s official website. At about the same time the first TV spot was released that showed the same kind of drama as the trailer while inviting audiences to come see for themselves what it was like to break this ground. Another used similar footage while listing the attributes necessary to put yourself in harms’ way as Armstrong did. Those were both also used as social media ads.

In late July a special preview was run exclusively before IMAX screenings of Mission: Impossible – Fallout. That preview was teased ahead of time. IMAX later ran its own TV spots that continued emphasizing the big story being told.

Media and Publicity

The footage featuring Gosling that Universal brought to CinemaCon to start building some buzz unfortunately seemed to underwhelm the media in attendance. A bit later both Chazelle and Gosling spoke about the story and characters alongside the revealing of a first still from the movie.

Around the time the first trailer was released Gosling showed up on “Kimmel” to do an interview where both he and the host were dressed in old-school spacesuits and sitting in a pretend capsule.

It was also announced as the opening night film for the Venice Film Festival, where Gosling and Chazelle complimented each other and talked about why they’ve repeatedly worked with each other. The movie garnered strong positive reactions from that initial screening.

The movie was announced as one of those screening – in IMAX – at the Toronto International Film Festival. Shortly thereafter another new photo was released along with comments from Gosling and Chazelle. It would then go on to also screen at Telluride.

There was an extensive cover story profile of Chazelle that covered this movie, his career to date, his collaborations with Gosling and more. Shortly after that Foy was interviewed about how she got involved with the movie, what she found most difficult about the story and more.

Because we live in the stupidest timeline, the movie’s festival screenings became a flashpoint for right wing pundits like Marco Rubio and the drones at Fox News because it reportedly didn’t include a shot of Armstrong planting an American flag on the moon. It got to the point that not only did Chazelle and Gosling feel the need to respond and clarify the intent behind that omission but so did Armstrong’s own sons.

That topic came up again in interviews during Toronto, where Stoll also shared what advice he got from the real life Aldrin. Chazelle later spoke about how he wanted to present the “normal” side of the initial astronauts that helped expand mankind’s reach.

A featurette released in late September had actual former astronauts talking about just how groundbreaking and inspiring the early Apollo missions were to them and the world.

The first clip shared a moment from a mission orbiting the moon where a technical problem creates a moment of dramatic tension for Armstrong and now the audience. That clip was preceded by a critical quote encouraging people to see the movie in IMAX. It was followed by an exclusive featurette on the people who helped make space travel possible and a promotional appeal for the big format by Gosling himself.

The actor showed up on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie and space food and more. He was also interviewed about the approval he got from Armstrong’s sons and how important that was to him. The whole primary cast and crew discussed the movie and the real life events that inspired it.

A private screening for friends of the filmmakers preceded the planned premiere in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum, an event that allowed the cast and crew to talk about the themes of the movie and its characters one more time.


I get what Universal is going for here and can’t fault them for it. They want to make a dramatic story of man going to the moon for this generation and want someone like Gosling to present a warts-and-all portrait of Armstrong where he’s not a super hero, just someone doing his best to do his job.

But…we know this story. Even if it has some new shading and is a visual marvel, we know what happens here. There’s no new ground being broken or understanding being achieved, at least not based on what we’ve seen in the campaign. Yes, Gosling looks great, but that’s not new either. And why why why are we continuing to make movies where actresses like Foy are asked to stand in the background and be the supportive wife while the man gets the narrative arc?

That’s where the campaign falls flat to me, in not presenting anything new or interesting or even presenting it in a unique way. It’s all material we’ve seen before and no amount of trading off the Gosling/Chazelle reteaming can get me past that.


Regal Cinemas and Universal partnered on a program to give free movie tickets to 14,000 current and veteran members of the U.S. military.

Gosling is the cover story for the recent issue of GQ, including an extensive interview about this movie and his whole career.

An exclusive IMAX featurette had Chazelle and others involved in the filmmaking talking about shooting the movie in the wide format in order to tell the big-scale story.

Olivia Hamilton, who plays Pat White in the movie and who’s married to Chazelle, made an appearance on “Kimmel” to talk about her burgeoning career.

Gosling talks here about how he tried to get in Armstrong’s head to tell his story.

IMAX has a new featurette going behind the scenes to talk to the cast and crew. Another one from Universal built on the buzz the movie’s score had built up.

Foy continued to get a few feature profiles mentioning this and other recent projects, She was also one of the December hosts of “Saturday Night Live.”

Two new featurettes were released as awards season ramped up, one focusing on Chazelle and his vision for the film and the other on the movie’s technical achievements.

Unsane – Marketing Recap

unsane posterClaire Foy plays Sawyer Valentini in Unsane, the new movie from director Steven Soderbergh. Sawyer is a paranoid young woman who believes the man who’s been stalking her has followed her to where she’s moved to get away from him and begin a new life. Eventually it gets so bad that she sees someone she thinks to be a therapist about it.

Only what she’s actually done is committed herself to a psychiatric institution. Or was she committed by someone else? Her tenuous grasp on reality means she can’t be sure. Becoming ever more enraged at her situation she’s pushed over the edge when she begins seeing the man who was stalking her within the institution, as one of the workers there.

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