The Sunlit Night – Marketing Recap

How a new film about finding yourself is being sold.

Jenny Slate plays Frances in the new film The Sunlit Night, based on the novel of the same name from writer Rebecca Dinerstein. Frances is a struggling artist who can’t seem to catch the break she needs in that world. Frustrated and needing a job, Frances takes an assistant position with a reclusive artist located in Norway.

While there she meets a handful of colorful characters, including Yasha (Alex Sharp), who has come there to give his late father a Viking funeral, and others, many of whom have wound up in the same village because of circumstances or fate. Frances finds a sense of home there that she never really had before and learns something about herself in the process.

The campaign from Quiver Distribution doesn’t break a lot of new ground, but sells a quirky story about unusual characters all working through their own personal issues.

The Posters

June brought the release of the first poster (by marketing agency Champ & Pepper). Frances is shown boarding a ship, jacket on and suitcase behind her. A wistful and uncertain look is seen on her face as she heads out on what is clearly a new adventure, something that’s reinforced by the grey mountainous landscape seen behind her. The story of personal growth as well as the setting of that story are both communicated in the copy “Find your height at the top of the world.”

The Trailers

Frances, we see in the trailer (4,800 views on YouTube) released in June, is an aspiring painter whose overall life doesn’t seem to be on track. Her work isn’t received well, her younger sister is engaged and her parents are separating. She gets a job as an assistant to an artist in Norway, taking her to a remote village where she meets all sorts of eclectic and unusual personalities, all of whom have converged there for their own reasons. It’s lighthearted and shows how the story moves along nicely, offering a lowkey alternative to some flashier films.

Online and Social

Nothing I’ve been able to uncover, which is surprising.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The movie got pretty mixed buzz coming out of its premiere at the 2019 edition of the Sundance Film Festival.

Media and Publicity

A first look still from the movie was released at the same time it was announced it would be screening at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Slate was profiled in that time, commenting on the movie and her career as a whole as well.

The period leading up to release has been pretty silent, though, save for a random interview with Slate here and there.

Overall

It’s kind of surprising how low-key things got at the end here. Not that it came out of Sundance 2019 with any great momentum the film has a strong cast of likeable actors and while the story seems like the kind of “have to go somewhere to find yourself” narrative we’ve seen countless times before, there’s always the chance it offers an interesting spin on that idea. Unfortunately little of that comes through here and the audience is left with significant “Northern Exposure” vibes.

Picking Up The Spare

There was finally a decent profile of Slate where she talked about this movie specifically. She also later appeared on “The Tonight Show.” 

The Polka King – Marketing Recap

polka king posterBased on a true story, The Polka King stars Jack Black as true-life Pennsylvania polka band leader Jan Lewan. Lewan was a self-made entrepreneur who was a musician, a business owner and an all-around good guy. He offered people the opportunity to invest in his operations and used that money to expand into new fields.

Except none of it was legal. At least not the investing part. When Lewan comes under investigation for fraud he panics, determined to keep his empire afloat. The movie also stars Jenny Slate as Marla, Lewan’s wife and Jason Schwartzman as Mickey, a musician in Lewan’s band and his best friend. Notably, the movie arrives on Netflix at the same time as the documentary showing the *actual* Lewan and detailing roughly the same events offered here.

Continue reading “The Polka King – Marketing Recap”

Landline – Marketing Recap

Director Gillian Robespierre takes us back to the halcyon days of the mid-90s in the new movie Landline. Jenny Slate, teaming for the second time with the director after 2014’s Obvious Child, stars as Dana, a woman who along with her younger sister Ali (Abby Quinn) discovers their father Alan (John Turturro) has been having a long-term affair, cheating on their mother Pat (Edie Falco).

This understandably throws their world, largely built around their slightly dysfunctional but still loving family, out of whack. The two set out to figure out what’s been going on while also dealing with their own issues. Dana is engaged to the boring but dependable Ben (Jay Duplass) but seems to be rethinking that future. Ali is a bit wilder than Dana had previously suspected. So there’s growth and discovery going on all over the place.

The Posters

The one poster for the movie does a number of things quite well. First is the phone cord that descends from the top to form the L in the title, a literal representation of the title and a reminder of a time when the physical range of a conversation had limits. Second is the look Slate’s Dana is shooting across the breakfast table at her father, one that conveys the upset and disappointment she’s feeling without saying a word, letting the audience know there’s something going on there. Third is the way Falco’s Pat is hovering over Ali, establishing their relationship. Finally, the “1995. When people were harder to reach.” brings the metaphor of the title to the story, telling us it’s about interpersonal dynamics family issues. There’s also the nod to Obvious Child, the previous collaborations between Slate and Robespierre.

The Trailers

The first and only trailer introduces us to the family and their dynamic as they’re on a road trip and trying to communicate with each other. We get that Dana is engaged, though she seems less than excited about the coming nuptials. She and her sister don’t really get along but bond when they find evidence their dad is having an affair. Everyone in the family is having their own crisis of sorts, whether it’s pre-wedding nerves, lack of commitment to school, feelings of being ignored or anything else.

It’s charming and low-key and looks sadly funny. The chemistry between all the actors appears effortless and like it all works to tell a simple but emotional story.

Online and Social

As has become pretty standard, you get full-screen video footage from the trailers when you load the official website. The title treatment from the poster involving the cord leading to the L and the copy are all placed in the upper left, above a button prompting you to “Get Tickets” and links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

In the drop-down menu the first section after another Get Tickets link is “Videos” which has the trailer and a clip from the movie that features a conversation between Pat and Alan as well as news footage of Hillary Clinton that seems pretty specifically included based on today’s political environment.

The “Story” section has a synopsis and the cast and crew lists. There’s a link then to “Stream More Great Films” that takes you to a special section of Amazon’s streaming service devoted to movies from Magnolia Pictures, a nice way to convert people in a different way. Finally there’s a “Press Kit” where you can download stills as well as a full PDF press kit and production notes.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Some light online advertising was done using the key art and there may have been a few social ads run at the time the trailer was released. That’s about it, though.

Media and Publicity

The first bit of publicity came when it was announced the movie would have its official premiere at Sundance 2017. That screening generated mixed, but generally positive word-of-mouth even while the cast and crew talked about reuniting after their previous movie together and how the story came into being. Amazon eventually picked the movie up for distribution.

Slate talked about how the retro vibe of the movie made her nostalgic and why she chose to set the story in the 90s. That was also the topic when Slate and Robespierre were asked about the story at the premiere, where they also talked about how that was meant in part to contrast it to today’s world.

Slate was, of course, the focal point of much of the press. She talked about 90s trends and how she started working with Robespierre years ago as well as her approach to selecting roles as a whole. She also talked about relationships and crushes, how she does and doesn’t want to be grouped with other actresses her age and lots more.

Overall

If you’re on board with Jenny Slate, you’ll likely be on board with this campaign. The focus is almost exclusively on her as the star and driving force of the movie’s story, the one we’re asked to sympathize with and take sides on behalf of. Everything about the movie is presented here from her point of view, from her parents’ relationship to the discovery of a side of her sister she was previously unaware of. The campaign is designed to appeal to fans of smaller, character-driven movies, especially those who made 2014’s Obvious Child a word-of-mouth hit as that movie is referenced frequently.

The other nice thing about the marketing is that it doesn’t get obnoxious with the 90s nostalgia. Yes, there are plenty of moments where people use floppy disks and actual landline phones and it takes a moment to realize the “app” Pat refers to in the trailer isn’t a bit of mobile software but a college application. But it keeps all that in the context of the story, not as something wholly on the side that’s positioned as a conceit for the audience to chuckle at. It’s that subtle approach that makes it work because, as the tagline on the poster suggests, the time period is used as a metaphor for human connections, not as a cheap gag.