Not great news for the movie as it’s come to light that while Michelle Williams came in essentially for free to handle the reshoots necessary when Christopher Plummer was added to replace Kevin Spacey, co-star Mark Wahlberg was paid around $1.5 million.
More here on Plummer’s sudden addition to the cast and the hurried reshooting schedule all the actors had to take part in. Williams talks about that more herself here.
Another story, this time directly from screenwriters Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, about how they seized the opportunity to channel their own issues into this bit of history.
It’s not *exactly* the version of the character played by Tessa Thompson in the movie, but the take on Valkyrie was popular enough that a new version of the Asgardian warrior who looks a lot like her film incarnation is joining a new “Exiles” series from Marvel.
While I’ve seen a few more ads for the movie in the last couple days (likely the result of ad retargeting after I spent time on the official website), there’s still a general lack of urgency around the marketing, something Ira Madison III at The Daily Beast covers in-depth.
Co-star Sam Rockwell, who continues to win both awards and praise for his performance, is hosting “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.
A bit more advertising has been done in response to the movie’s early awards season wins, including 15-second pre-roll spots on YouTube that call out how insane this true story is.
Part of John Boyega’s appearance during the Star Wars publicity cycle also touched on this movie’s rerelease into theaters for an awards season push.
Lady Bird / Get Out
Directors Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele, both of whom broke out as significant behind-the-camera talents this year, were the subjects of a Vanity Fair photo shoot/cover story talking about their career journeys to date and what might be next.
Saoirse Ronan talked more about working with Gerwig and what drew her to the story here.
The actor also hosted last week’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” where Gerwig dropped by for one of the digital shorts.
I didn’t write about the movie’s campaign, but Krstina Monllos at Adweek has a story on how A24 is promoting its home video release with a pizza box campaign in New York City.
Director Taylor Sheridan was so outraged by the news about Harvey Weinstein that he called to extract the rights to the movie and have them revert to the Tunica-Biloxi tribe, which has taken over awards season promotions. Proceeds from the film are also being sent to an organization that tracks abuse of Native American women, something that’s drastically uncounted currently.
The movie has continued receiving plenty of TV advertising, including spots like this that encouraged families to see it in IMAX.
The Frozen short that was shown before the movie was much-derided by just about everyone, so when it was announced it was being removed it seemed to be in reaction to that criticism. Disney soon claimed, though, that a limited run was always the plan.
More from director Rob Reiner here about why he wanted to tell Johnson’s story and how he made the movie happen.
Director Ridley Scott spoke briefly about the future of the franchise, assuring fans there would be more movies coming but that they take a different approach.
Makeup artist Deborah La Mia Denaver talked about how she turned star Margot Robbie into the much different looking Tonya Harding. And director Craig Gillespie spoke about how a career shooting commercials – including one starring Nancy Kerrigan – prepared him for the movie.
Costar Lily Collins has done some media to promote the film now that it’s in theaters as well as talk about other upcoming projects.
Production designer Mark Friedberg talks here about creating the miniatures and dioramas that were used in the film to bridge the story’s two time periods.
It’s worth noting that when news broke of skater Tonya Harding having had rival skater Nancy Kerrigan attacked after a practice in 1994, America was two years into the nascent reality television phenomenon. It’s by no means a recent development, but the audience was primed for stories of real life drama involving villains we could root against, sweethearts to root for and sympathize with and so on. Coverage of the story extended well beyond the world of sports and became a reality narrative the whole country followed for a while.
Now that story is coming to the big screen over 20 years later in I, Tonya. Margot Robbie stars as Harding in a story that follows her from her earliest days in the world of competitive figure skating, a career that’s driven by her hard-nosed mother (Allison Janney). Sebastian Stan plays Jeff Gillooly, Harding’s ex-husband and co-conspirator, the one who actually makes overtures to shady types who might be able to elongate Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver) from the equation.
The first and only poster features Robbie as Harding standing against the cinderblock wall common to arenas as she holds her skates in her hands and sports a defiant scowl. It certainly seems familiar, largely because those of us who lived through these events will kinda sorta recognize the outfit she’s sporting. And it definitely conveys to the audience that we’re not getting a sugar-coated version of events but one that comes loaded with plenty of attitude
A short teaser trailer sets up Tonya as embracing the role of someone willing to be the bad guy as we see a few shots from the movie, including her skating, Harding being clubbed and more. There’s not much there, it’s just a taste to get something out there and get people talking.
The first full trailer is kind of insane. We see Tonya’s story, including how she was pushed by her mother to succeed in every way, mostly through criticisms and violence. All that made her defiant and tough and unwilling to play by the nice rules that are in place. We see her husband begin looking into having someone take out the competition and keep working, all while dealing with the emotional fallout of being raised like she was.
It’s coarse and vulgar and funny and yeah, it looks pretty darn entertaining. Robbie completely owns the role and Janney looks fantastic as the caustic mother who prods her daughter in the only way she knows how. There are a couple moments that seem to indicate the movie breaks the fourth wall regularly, offering commentary on what’s happening and the reality of the situation, pointing out moments of artistic license being taken. That only makes it look more insane.
Online and Social
The main page of the official website opens with full-screen video pulled from the trailer with the title and a “Get Tickets” prompt at the bottom of the page. That tickets call-to-action is also the first element in the menu at the top of the page.
After that is the “Trailer” section, which has both the teaser and the full trailer, the latter in both red-band and all-ages versions. The “Synopsis” after that offers both a story overview and the cast and crew list. There are several stills in the “Gallery.” Other than the “Share” buttons to post the site to social media the last section is the “Press Kit” that offers a PDF to download where you can get all sorts of relevant information.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
If there’s been a ton of advertising for the movie I haven’t seen it. Nothing has been found in terms of TV spots and I haven’t seen any online or social media paid promotion.
Media and Publicity
The movie had its big coming out at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it was pretty well received. A big feature interview with Robbie appeared around that time where she talked about the technical and physical challenges in making the movie and admitted she didn’t realize this wasn’t a fictional story until they were filming. NEON quickly picked up distribution rights after that Toronto screening and it was later scheduled as one of the closing night features at AFI Fest. Robbie continued talking about the research she did into the woman she’s playing.
Robbie did a few press interviews in the last couple weeks but most of the coverage wound up revolving around questions about her future as Harley Quinn in various DC Cinematic Universe films. Either that or the stories focused on her fashion and glamour, not really talking about the movie itself. Just look at the headlines to the right, a screenshot pulled from Google News.
She also showed up on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” just last night, interviewed by guest host Chris Pratt.
I think my favorite part of this campaign is that there’s no attempt to make a feel-good Lifetime story out of it. There’s attitude and swagger to spare throughout the marketing, which matches the public persona many of us associate with the real-life Harding. It’s clear the filmmakers aren’t glossing over anything. While they may present a slightly more relatable picture of Harding than was evident 20+ years ago, she’s still not a warm, fuzzy personality. And Robbie sells all that with conviction, a testament to her acting chops.
The marketing probably won’t make that much of a dent in audience desire to see the film, though. This is very much the kind of film that will skate under most people’s radar until it’s available on Amazon Prime or Netflix in eight months, at which point they’ll kind of remember seeing a trailer for it and decide it’s worth checking out. That’s not the fault of the campaign itself, which sizzles and pops and makes a strong impression, just the reality of the current theatrical marketplace.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
The movie has come under an increasing amount of criticism since it was released, both for its depiction of domestic abuse and for how it plays fast and loose with the truth, the latter centered around an account from a sports writer who covered the events of the film in real-time.
A bit more advertising has been done in response to the movie’s early awards season wins, including 15-second pre-roll spots on YouTube that call out how insane this true story is. While it’s not directly tied to this movie, the interest and attention it received presumably lead NEON to acquire the old documentary “Sharp Edges” about Tonya Harding prior to her gaining national notoriety. Still, it’s somewhat surprising given the backlash to the movie centered around the questionable decision to make the villain in the story sympathetic while almost completely ignoring the victim.