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.
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 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.”
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.
It makes a massive amount of sense that Rupert Everett is finally playing famed writer Oscar Wilde in the new movie The Happy Prince. In one of his first roles after breaking into mainstream stardom in the late 90s Everett starred in An Ideal Husband, a role that showed how suited his style and charisma were to Wilde’s words.
This new movie is no comedy of manners, though. Named after a Wilde short story of heartbreak and sadness, The Happy Prince – which Everett also wrote and directed – follows Wilde as he faces death and reflects back on his life and all it’s encompassed. That includes his marriage to Constance (Emily Watson) as well as his conviction for immoral behavior because of his homosexuality, which led him to several same-sex affairs.
Wilde and his companion Alfred Bosie Douglas (Colin Morgan) are strolling merrily along a narrow path between buildings on the poster, showing one of the key relationships that will impact the story being told. It’s not an extraordinarily dynamic image, but it gets the point across, especially with the pull quote from a positive review at the top.
The first trailer shows that the movie will deal with Wilde’s dual personas as both the toast of London at the time and someone who ran afoul of the city’s morality laws. We see him be town between being true to himself and wanting to live his life free of those who would judge him.
There’s a lot of drama and Everett looks great in the role, with the ending showing that he’s also the creative force behind the movie on many fronts.
Online and Social
Sony Classics’ website offers a fair bit of information on the movie. The page starts with the trailer. Close that and scroll down the page and you’ll find a story “Synopsis” along with a statement from Everett about how much he’s always been drawn to Wilde’s work and what making the movie meant to him as well as a few production notes. “Cast” has the filmographies of those involved before the site ends with a stills “Gallery.” The studio only created a unique Facebook page for the movie but did support it on other brand channels.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve come across, but there may have been some targeted online ads in the locations the movie is first opening in.
Media and Publicity
Everett and the rest of the primary cast brought the movie to Sundance this year, where they talked about the story and the making of the film. A screening and Q&A was also hosted just recently by the L.A. Film Festival.
While, understandably, there was a heavier promotional push in the U.K., Everett did show up on “The Late Late Show” to talk more about making the movie.
This is a great reminder of how societal mores have changed drastically over the years and should continue to do so. That Wilde was imprisoned because of his sexuality – albeit with the fig leaf of morality laws – is something that should be more widely recognized, clearly something Everett beliefs and which drove him to tell this story.
The campaign won’t do much to attract anyone not already given to character driven dramas of real life events, but that’s alright. It will be interesting to see how the movie does in the U.K. compared to whatever its U.S. fate might be.
Picking Up The Spare
Rupert Everett receives a glowing profile here about his career and why he felt it so important to tell this story. He also talks about playing Oscar Wilde in this featurette.
As this week’s sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens, the elite British spy agency has suffered a terrible setback as a secret – and evil – organization has destroyed their headquarters and announced its intention to take over the world. Leading that charge is the organization’s charismatic leader Poppy (Julianne Moore), who maintains others have failed and so now she has to step in and clean up their mess.
That leads the surviving members of Kingsman, including Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) to seek the help of their American cousins the Statesman. That brings them into contact with Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger (Halle Berry) and the head of that group, Champ (Jeff Bridges). The colonials may have a different way of doing things, but the two groups have to work together to take Poppy and The Golden Circle down before it’s too late.
The first teaser poster accompanied, and basically served as, the news that the movie was officially happening at all. It shows a pair of glasses with one lens blacked out sitting on top of a surface with the text “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” a reference to the fate of a character from the first movie who may not be as gone as fans were led to believe. The second teaser also hinted at a character, but this time a new one that was American. This came out at the same time rumors were circulating around Tatum’s involvement and seemed to confirm those. Two more did the same thing for different characters.
The next primarily conveys the idea that the story is moving across the pond in this story, with the British character on one side holding his umbrella and dressed like a chartered accountant and the other character on the right dressed in jeans and a denim jacket and holding a bullwhip.
A whole series of posters featured each individual character standing against a white background. The Brits were labeled as “Suited” while the Americans were “Booted” to differentiate the teams and Moore’s villain was “Deluded.”
Another series offered a brief explanation of who they were alongside each character.
Another put each character in front of a contextual background like a cabinet full of guns, stylish clothing, sports equipment and more.
In advance of the first trailer, an “Ultimate Breakdown” was released that took the viewer through much of the movie, all condensed into quick flash single frames that took just 15 seconds to cycle through. It certainly worked to get people talking.
The first trailer starts with a brief recap of how Eggsy was recruited as a Kingsman before an important building is destroyed. That sets things in motion and there’s little story on display in the rest of the trailer, which is primarily concerned with showing off the action sequences. Along the way we get hints of the American counterparts they’ll encounter before a major reveal is made at the very end.
Before the panel at San Diego Comic-Con a red-band trailer was released that explains a bit more about the challenge the Kingsmen are facing and what brings them to America to work with the Statesmen. It’s violent and high-concept and looks awesome.
One more short trailer introduces us to Poppy and The Golden Circle. She’s bringing her secret organization out of the shadows because she feels society has failed, leading to lots of destruction, villainy and…dancing?
Online and Social
The theatrical key art sits at the top of the movie’s official website, just above links to the Facebook and Twitter profiles created by the studio as well as prompts to watch the trailer or buy tickets.
Scroll down and you can check out a bunch of the “Videos,” including the trailers, clips, TV spots and a few featurettes focusing on the stunt work involved in making the film. After that “About” has a story synopsis and cast and crew list. “Posters” lets you view, download or share many of the one-sheets.
After a section encouraging you to sign up for email blasts there’s “The Goldin Foldin,” a page you can print out with an original Al Jaffe (of MAD Magazine fame) illustration that can folded into a new image much like his landmark works on the back of that magazine.
There are a few activities under “Featured Content” that are relevant to the movie. “Gallery” has some production stills to check out. You can download a mobile “Game” that allows you to play as a Kingsman. Finally, “Social Updates” brings in posts from the movie’s social profiles.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Whiskey also figured heavily in the first TV spot for the movie, which aired, appropriately enough, during the Kentucky Derby. This one was heavy on the story’s American connections, following the British team as they travel to Kentucky and meet the Statesmen, with scenes in a distillery and more being the focal point.
Further TV spots leaned heavily on how the Kingsmen and their American counterparts had to team up to save the world, with plenty of violent gunplay and other action shown. A ton of commercials were released over the course of the last four to six weeks prior to release, each taking a slightly different approach to selling the story but all playing up the slapstick violence. There were so many spots the movie was the biggest TV spender in the last couple weeks.
There were a number of promotional partners for the movie as well, including:
Old Forester, which created a special label of its bourbon whiskey named after the American version of the Kingsmen that’s introduced in the movie. That new product, framed as a partnership that was integral to the movie, received an extended video spot to introduce it to the audience.
VisitBritain and Expedia Media Solutions, which partnered on a campaign to encourage U.S. travelers to head across the pond. That campaign included banner and other online ads, an online game and exclusive content on VisitBritain.com and more.
Media and Publicity
The first bit of real publicity for the movie came in the form of an announcement of its title, which was enough to get people talking. It was quite a while then until some first-look stills were released along with from Egerton, Strong and others about where the characters are when we meet them again in this installment.
Vaughn talked about Moore’s taking on the role of the bad guy in the series and how she pulled inspiration from an unlikely source in Entertainment Weekly’s big San Diego Comic-Con preview issue. It also received a Hall H panel at Comic-Con featuring Egerton, Tatum and other members of the cast and crew.
The movie’s panel at SDCC included the cast and crew but it opened with a fun bit of original animation that placed Eggsy in the animated world of “Archer.” The opening scene from the movie was also shown. After than EW’s fall movie preview included an interview with both Firth and Egerton where they talked about their on-screen chemistry and off-screen friendship.
There was a fun video Fox created to tie into real world events that shows the studio’s marketing team first brainstorming and then executing the solar eclipse as a promotional stunt for the movie.
Egerton, Firth, Moore and a few others did a bit of press and publicity but there didn’t seem to be much. Whether that’s because of any trepidation on the part of Fox, a scheduling issue or something else I’m not sure, but it’s odd to see a lack of interviews and other activity by the main cast.
I failed to mention at the outset that I’ve not yet seen the first Kingsman movie, so I’m missing some of the context that might be necessary for the second outing. That being said, there’s nothing about the campaign here that makes that knowledge necessary. Meaning I don’t find much about the marketing that assumes the audience knows exactly who these characters are and what they’re up to. There’s the reveal that’s placed at the end of the first trailer, but that’s about it. Everything else just sets this up as a globe-trotting spy caper involving a team of Brits and a team of Yanks trying to stop a vague and ill-defined bad guy.
It’s all played fast and loose here, with tongue firmly in cheek. This is exactly how the first movie was sold, which means it’s in-line with the tone that’s been used to market just about all the cinematic adaptations of Mark Millar’s work, including Wanted and Kick-Ass. Considering that consistent brand tone it’s a bit surprising Millar isn’t name-checked more often in the campaign. Everything that’s here is good enough if you’re inclined toward such movies, promising an action adventure that’s high on style and low on substance.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.