Picking Up The Spare: The Last Jedi, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer and More

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

An outdoor campaign run in conjunction with Twitter rotated pictures from the movie and fan Tweets about it on giant billboards in Toronto and New York.

There’s a game called “Porg Invasion” that can be played within Facebook Instant Games, a feature the social network has been eager to promote since it means working within an environment many young users are increasingly preferring.

Director Rian Johnson gives credit here to the technical team he brought together to oversee the massive production. And he spoke here about how he made it a priority to make the movie the most inclusive of characters who were other than white males.

Costar Laura Dern has been making a few media appearances to talk about joining the series and what it was like to join such a massive production.

According to a story on MediaPost, the movie’s promotional partners spent over $27 million to help market their tie-ins.

Kelly Marie Tran continues to enjoy her moment in the sun and get a lot of mainstream attention with this interview. That she’s been seen as such a breakout by audiences and critics both for her performance and her position as a welcome bit of inclusiveness has not gone unnoticed by Disney, which released this short featurette on her casting.

The movie’s Rotten Tomatoes score has become a serious subject of debate, particularly in light of claims made by those within the alt-right movement that they’ve used bots and other tools to artificially lower the score because they’re upset at all the women in the story. This should serve as a reminder that sexism is as much a core philosophy of these jackweeds as racism.

The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

A24 is out with a slightly disturbing holiday-themed spot promoting the movie’s upcoming home video release.

Bright

Bryan Bishop at The Verge has a great piece on how Netflix used its own recommendation system and user profile targeting to display trailers and other promotions for the movie on the site itself, an effort that ran alongside the external campaign. That kind of targeting is one thing when it’s done on the wide web, it’s another when it’s contained to a platform and has a clear call to action.

Despite what has been widespread negativity from critics, Netflix is so committed to producing films on par with theatrical releases it’s already ordered a sequel. For what it’s worth, I pegged the movie as being the best chance to be the first streaming-original franchise last month.

The Post

Members of the cast talk about production here, with Hanks talking about the nerves of shooting his first emotional scene with Meryl Streep and Bob Odenkirk talking about how Hanks helped costars get used to the unconventional set director Steven Spielberg runs.

Wonder

While the movie hasn’t been the subject of much debate or conversation online, it’s been quietly consistent at the box-office, currently sitting at $111 million in sales. That shows strong word-of-mouth. Lionsgate is hoping to goose that and take advantage of the lack of “inspirational” fare in theaters right now with a new TV spot positioning it as a great holiday choice for the whole family.

The Greatest Showman

Seems James Mangold, who had experience working with star Hugh Jackman on a few different films including the last two Wolverines, came in to provide advice and support to first time director Michael Gracey as well as manage some reshoots.

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

Picking up the Spare: Sacred Deer, Wonderstruck and More

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

This profile of Colin Farrell frames the actors’ resurgence in the last 10 years to his embracing of small and quirky roles instead of the big-budget nonsense he was leaning toward pre-2006.

Wonderstruck

Another look here at the casting of Millicent Simmonds, the deaf girl who plays the lead in the movie and how she got to know her costars.

And here’s another profile of director Todd Haynes that focuses on how he took the turn into making a movie about and starring children.

The Meyerowitz Stories

While Stiller and Sandler dominated much of the pre-release press, co-star Elizabeth Marvel, who plays their sister in the movie, is finally getting a moment.

Only the Brave

Michael Phelps at the Chicago Tribune asks the same question I did about movies like this, which is whether audiences are interested in seeing stories that are too damn similar to those dominating the news cycle.

Novitiate

Writer/director Maggie Betts finally got an interview of her own where she talked about developing the story and avoiding certain topics that are too often the central focus of other movies. She also talked here about her long-standing obsession with nuns and how it influenced her and what it was like working on a female-dominated movie set.

It

Fandango’s MovieClips has offered up the movie’s opening scene as a way to try and reach the last few people who haven’t seen it.

The Florida Project

Another interview with the movie’s young star about how she got ready for such a demanding part and handled the insanity of production.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Marketing Recap

After winning widespread acclaim for The Lobster two years ago, writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos is back with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The movie reteams him with star Colin Farrell, who here plays Dr. Steven Murphy, a successful surgeon who leads a comfortable, respectable and luxurious life with his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two teenage children.

Steven has, unbeknownst to most everyone, taken a teenage boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan) under his wing. That turns out to be a poor decision as Martin’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and dangerous. Not only does he threaten to expose a secret of Steven’s from long in the past but he also makes it clear he’s a danger to the whole family.

The Posters

Farrell stands alone in an absurdly tall hospital room on the first poster, facing two empty beds as if pondering the people who are no longer in them. There’s no other copy aside from the title and credits and nothing to provide additional story context, so it’s just about selling a unique look and feel here.

The second poster features an upside down image of Martin, a photo of Steven and Anna appearing inside the outline of Martin’s picture. That’s meant to convey how the two parties have become intertwined, the fact that Martin’s photo is upside down adding to the sense of disorientation in the audience.

The Trailers

There’s no clear story in the first trailer, instead it’s more focused on setting up some sort of medical mystery and family drama. Somehow a young girl winds up not able to move and that has an impact on the rest of her family as well as the surgeon who has handled her case. What else is happening isn’t apparent, other than that there will be both psychological and physical torture going on.

A second short trailer has Martin coming to the house of Anna and the rest of the family. Martin makes cryptic, threatening comments to Steven about his family and how they’re all going to get sick and die. There’s a connection between the two that’s not great and which is going to have an impact on everyone around Steven and Anna.

Online and Social

There isn’t a whole lot going on at A24’s official website for the movie. There’s a prompt to play the trailer and one to get tickets. Toward the bottom are links to the movie’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles.

The primary feature is “Doctor What’s Wrong With Me?” That takes you to a stand-alone website that lets you diagnose what might be wrong with you by pointing and clicking on different parts of an anatomy. All the answers, of course, are more emotional and mental than physical. There’s also a test you can take that seems designed to test your empathy and attitude toward the harsh realities of life.

It’s very similar to the site launched in conjunction with The Lobster, which was designed to see what animal you should be when you fail to find a mate.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing on this front that I’ve been exposed to. There may have been some ads in the real world and online that were targeted at the movie’s initial release markets, but I’m not aware of them.

Media and Publicity

The movie was one of the handful that had its premiere at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival. It was later also added to the Fantastic Fest schedule.

The movie was one of a few Kidman appeared in at the festival, leading to a narrative in the press about the actress’s resurgence and her work ethic. Later on Silverstone talked about how she got involved with the film and what it was like shooting with Farrell.

This marking their second collaboration, there was a joint interview with Farrell and Lanthimos where they talked about how they began working together, what they enjoy about the process and lots more.

Overall

Anyone who wasn’t already a fan of Lanthimos’ previous work, including those who first discovered him through 2015’s The Lobster, isn’t going to find a lot to latch onto with this campaign. There’s no, or little, sense of the story or character offered anywhere in the marketing that A24 has offered for this new movie. Anyone who saw the trailer in front of something more mainstream likely came away confused and uninterested. It’s inaccessible, providing no easy jumping on point for the uninitiated.

For those a bit savvier and already in tune with what the filmmaker is doing, though, it offers a wealth of good stuff. The efforts shows the visual richness of Lanthimos’ style and the complex moral territory his stories frequently tread into. The publicity push hasn’t been all that substantial, but that’s a small criticism for an overall campaign that’s consistent from one element to the next and knows just what will bring in the kind of audience it’s hoping to find.

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