The Boys In The Band – Marketing Recap

How Netflix has sold a movie based on a groundbreaking stage play.

The Boys In The Band, on Netflix now, is the second film adaptation of Mart Crowley’s 1968 play of the same name and, like the previous version, features a screenplay by Crowley. This version, directed by Joe Mantello, features the same story of a group of friends gathering for a birthday party that gets increasingly tense as everyone has more and more to drink and the humor becomes a bit more pointed.

The movie stars a high-caliber cast including Jim Parsons as Michael, the host of the party, Zachary Quinto as Harold the birthday boy, Matt Bomer as Donald, a man questioning his own sexuality, and a number of others, many of whom reprise their roles from a recent Broadway revival of the play.

Ryan Murphy, creator of “Glee,” “American Horror Story” and several other critically acclaimed shows produced the film, which comes to Netflix with an 84% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Posters

The whole cast is on display on the one sheet (by marketing agency P+A), released toward the end of last month. Over their faces the title treatment is displayed with the text “Based on the Tony Award-winning play that changed a generation” at the bottom along with the release date. It’s a simple design but given that the cast is the biggest selling point here it makes a lot of sense.

The Trailers

The first trailer (1m views on YouTube) came out at the beginning of September and starts out with Michael talking about his preference for a restless lifestyle while offering brief looks at the rest of the characters. From there we see them all arrive for Harold’s birthday party, hosted by Michael, many of whom are anticipating an…interesting…evening. Michael’s antics take the evening in unexpected directions, including a confrontation with his former friend Hank (Tuc Watkins), whose sexuality is unclear. There’s laughter and crying and a bit of yelling and punching as the party truly gets out of order.

Online and Social

No website of its own but the movie has received a good amount of support from Netflix on its brand social channels.

Advertising and Promotions

The film adaptation of the stage play, with the same cast as that show, was announced in August of last year.

News of the movie had been circulating for a while when, in August, Netflix released some first-look stills showing the cast.

Crowley, Mantello and much of the cast all appear in a featurette about the groundbreaking nature of the play and its story, including how it still resonates over 50 years after it debuted.

There were also promotional featurettes and videos on the background of the character played by Quinto, the cast talking about their childhoods and the cast introducing the characters they play and how they fit into the story.

A clip shows a key moment in the story that starts out with fun dancing to Hank’s arrival and how it changes the tone of the party.

Media and Press

Mantello was interviewed about adapting the play for not only the screen but in the current period. He, Parsons and others were all part of a feature on how this version changes certain aspects of the story, including the ending.

Costar Charlie Carver talked about how starring in the 2018 stage revival was an important moment in his own coming out journey. Another interview with Mantello allowed him to talk about how important the 1970 film version directed by William Friedkin was to him and how he assembled the cast for that stage production, which he also directed.

Parsons appeared on “The Tonight Show” to talk about this movie and more


In many cases when a movie is based on older material there’s a conscious effort to distance the new version from what’s come before, presenting it as something not necessarily new but fresh, not tied to previous incarnations.

That’s not the case here, with the entire campaign celebrating the five decades of history behind the play and the relevance of the story, including how that relevance has remained while also changing slightly over that time. Crowley’s involvement helps with that, as does the deep emotional connection with the source material evinced by Mantello and many members of the cast.

Along with that reverence for history, the way the campaign embraces the entire ensemble is notable. Largely a byproduct of the story and its character-centric nature, everyone is on display here and shown to be equally important to what transpires, despite the presence of a handful of bigger stars in significant roles. All that adds up to a well-rounded campaign that sells a movie worth seeing as both historical artifact and acting showcase.

Picking Up The Spare

Another video promo from Netflix, this one tying Crowley’s writing of the original play to the Stonewall riots of the era. 

Quinto was interviewed about the appeal of the story and how he decided to make his sexuality public. 

Carver and Crowley sat down for a conversation released by Netflix as another featurette. 

A Kid Like Jake – Marketing Recap

a kid like jake posterParents Alex (Claire Danes) and Greg (Jim Parsons) are just trying to do right by their son Jake (Leo James Davis) in the new movie A Kid Like Jake. The kid is just four years old but has for a while now shown more of an interest in princess movies and frilly dresses than anything else, interests they’ve indulged without concern because kids are going to be kids.

As they prepare to send him to school, though, the fact that he’s not like other young boys is about to become an issue in some way. There are some who think this isn’t just a phase he’ll eventually grow out of and may be a sign of, to use the modern parlance, gender nonconformity. Alex and Greg struggle with the responsibility of making a decision for their son that could impact his life.

The Posters

Jake’s parents are getting him ready for school or some other sort of event or outing, which in this case includes making sure his jacket fits over the dress he’s wearing. They both look happy and supportive, as do the smiling faces at the bottom of the poster. Basically this is meant to present the story’s premise and set the audience up for what they can expect, which is unconventional in many regards.

The Trailers

The dominant theme of the trailer is not just Jake’s propensity for dressing in princess dresses and skirts but also the struggle Alex and Greg are undertaking in wanting to support their child but not make a mistake in one direction or another. They’ve been dealing with this for a while but now that Jake is entering school it’s all coming to a head as they want him to be himself but also don’t want him to be singled out but also don’t want to make decisions for him at such a young age that can’t be undone later on.

It’s an interesting trailer and one that certainly is meant to position the film as one that wants to participate in and spark discussions about gender identities as well as parental choices and the pressures that come with both.

Online and Social

Just the basic information about the cast and crew along with a synopsis and the trailer on the single page on IFC Films’ website. There were Facebook and Twitter profiles IFC set up to share promotions and other material.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’m aware of, though having visited the website I’m guessing I might see some retargeted ads in the near future.

Media and Publicity

The movie debuted at Sundance, though it didn’t receive a ton of critical buzz. Still, it was acquired by IFC Films shortly after the festival wrapped.

At the movie’s premiere the stars talked about what attracted them to the story and how they hoped to bring a sensitive conversation-starter free of moral judgments to audiences. Parsons hit some of those same points, along with what hesitations about the subject matter he worked to overcome, in a feature interview of his own.

Danes also did a few interviews like this one where she talked about why she got involved in the film and how the subject matter was much different than some of her other recent projects.


IFC has certainly done what it could to position the movie as being timely and relevant as well as respectful of the people for whom this really hits home. Parsons emerged as the biggest public face in the publicity campaign, which makes a certain amount of sense. All put together it’s a good campaign that may find some success with a niche audience not necessarily because of the subject matter but just because of the release pattern.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.


Jim Parsons spoke more here about the gender identity issues and other elements of the story. And Claire Danes hit the late-night talk show circuit to talk about the movie.
Claire Danes has continued to do press for the film and talk about the issues raised in the story.