the good house – marketing recap

How Roadside Attractions has sold a story about rekindling romance

The Good House movie poster from Roadside Attractions
The Good House movie poster from Roadside Attractions

Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver reunite in this week’s new release The Good House. Directed by the pair of Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky – who also wrote the script with Thomas Bezucha – the story follows Hildy Good (Weaver) as she leads a comfortable life as a New England realtor. Things take a turn, though, when her old flame Frank Getchell (Kline) comes back into her life. As the two of them become closer, Hildy is also faced with the changing relationship between her and her daughters along with everyone else.

The movie, based on Ann Leary’s 2013 novel of the same name, also stars Morena Baccarin, Beverly D’Angelo, Rob Delaney and others as the people in Hildy’s circle.

Let’s dive into how Roadside has sold it to the public.

announcement and casting

The movie was announced – and filmed – in late 2019, but sat around for a while until it finally debuted at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. While there Weaver was interviewed about the unique nature of her character, working with Kline for the third time and more.

Universal Pictures initially planned to release the movie but pulled it from its calendar. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions then partnered to acquire the film in June 2022. A September release date was announced at that time.

the marketing campaign

Roadside released the trailer (1.5m YouTube views) in early August. Hildy is giving some clients (and therefore us) her background and credentials before addressing the camera directly to admit that things haven’t turned out like she planned. After a few scenes explaining the issues she has with her family – and which they have with her – she and Frank reconnect. That relationship has some unintended positive consequences as she has some uncomfortably honest conversations with her daughters and herself about what she wants, what they want and how they can all move forward.

The poster came out later in August and offers a very simple value proposition to the audience. Namely, the opportunity to watch Kline and Weaver be adorable and talented together in a movie filled with cute houses along the beach. I’ve yet to find a message that’s more personally attractive this year.

Hildy shares some of her problems with her friend Rebecca (Baccarin) in a short clip released in mid-September.

Commercials like this that started running around that same time offer glimpses of the story, mostly by just cutting down things already seen in the trailer but occasionally adding to them to emphasize some aspect of Hildy’s personality.

Another clip shared by Fandango shows an extended look at the intervention Hildy walks into as her family confronts her about her drinking. It also acts as a more thorough introduction to some of the supporting characters. HIldy and Frank share a dinner in yet another clip.

Weaver promoted the film in an appearance on “Good Morning America” as well as in a handful of other interviews, some of which also featured Kline.

Most of the cast and crew came out for the premiere event that took place as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

overall

As I said above, the idea of two actors like Weaver and Kline having a good time with each other and reminding the world what “chemistry” looks like is one I can enthusiastically get behind. So the campaign works for me based on that alone and only gets stronger by adding someone like Morena Baccarin, who’s so tragically underused by Hollywood, to the mix.

You pretty much know what you’re getting with a marketing push like this, but that’s all good since there are enough campaigns out there concerned with spoilers as they set up high-concept stories. This is as low-key and comfortable as they come and is the better for it.

the starling – marketing recap

How Netflix is selling a story of grief, love and Metaphor Birds.

The Starling poster

The Starling, streaming now on Netflix, stars Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd as Lilly and Jack, a married couple who are in the midst of a rough patch in their relationship. Jack is in an institution working to come to terms with the grief he feels following the death of their child (it’s unclear if it was a miscarriage or came later) while Lilly has to continue on through life without him. Helping her on the outside is Dr. Larry Fine (Kevin Kline), a former counselor now working as a veterinarian.

announcement and casting

McCarthy and O’Dowd were cast as the leads in mid-2019, reuniting them with their St. Vincent director. Others were added to the lineup later that year.

While the movie was still in post-production Netflix reportedly acquired distribution rights.

the marketing

In June news came that the film would screen at the Toronto Film Festival ahead of a limited theatrical release followed by wide availability on Netflix.

The trailer (1.8m views on YouTube) was finally released in late August. As it starts we see Lilly is working to adjust to life with Jack in a facility to deal with his issues. Lilly has her own problems, though, and is referred to Dr. Fine despite him no longer being a counselor. The couple are working through their problems and, with Fine’s help, trying to find new ways to be a couple after experiencing a common loss.

Shortly after that the planned TIFF premiere took place, but the reviews and word of mouth that came out were decidedly mixed if not outright negative.

The poster came out in mid-September, just a week or so before the movie was available. The focus here is on Lilly as she lays in her garden, the starling of the title perched on her shoulder. Everything about the design is meant to convey heartfelt emotions, right down to the serif-heavy font and the soft colors of the sky in the background.

McCarthy appeared on “The Late Show” to talk about the movie, including the technical difficulties involved in acting against an invisible bird and more. A later interview with her had her sharing her own experiences as a mom and with wild animals along with more.

An interview with Melfi had him talking about shooting parts of the movie with the actors in different locations due to the conflicting schedules as well as how he worked to change the perspective of the original script to focus more on McCarthy’s character.

Just prior to release Netflix put out a clip expanding on a scene between Lilly and Dr. Fine talking about the grieving process.

overall

The campaign’s major obstacle to overcome are the aforementioned negative reviews, which have just continued since Toronto and currently give the film a paltry 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Whether it achieves that goal is questionable. McCarthy and O’Dowd are two incredibly likeable, charismatic actors and having Kline batting clean up is never a bad thing. Everything in the marketing makes it clear that the characters are all dealing with big emotions and having difficult conversations, so your reaction to the trailer et al will likely depend on how attractive that all seems.