Rebecca – Marketing Recap

How Netflix has sold the latest adaptation of a gothic romance classic.

Rebecca, out this week on Netflix, is the latest in a series of adaptations of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel of the same name. This version, written by Jane Goldman and directed by Ben Wheatly, stars Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter and Lily James as Mrs. de Winter. The couple, married after only a brief courtship, soon move back to the huge seaside estate of his to begin their life together.

It’s at that point trouble begins. The new Mrs. de Winter is haunted by Rebecca, the first to carry that name. Sometimes that haunting is literal in how she still seems to be inhabiting the home, with bits of her life and possessions around and about. More figuratively, the young bride is constantly being reminded of she who came before by the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas).

Mixed reviews for the film started emerging last week, giving it a lackluster 55% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, though most at least called out the fantastic production values. Netflix’s marketing has played up the atmospheric aspects of the story and the psychological trauma being visited on the young woman.

The Posters

The newly-married couple are the prime elements on the first poster (by marketing agency Empire Design), released in early September. They’re embracing but he, at least, appears somewhat distracted, which hints at some of the drama to come.

A series of additional posters came out in early October that each take a slightly different atmospheric take on the story. All, though, visually play with the ideas of the new couple being close but somehow separated in some manner, often by Mrs. Danvers herself. They’re some very interesting designs that do more to present the tone of the film than the primary version.

The Trailers

The first trailer (1.25 million views on YouTube) came out in early September, starting with the meeting of Maxim and the young woman followed by the evolution of their romance. They are soon married, but when she joins him at his home at Manderlay things become dark quickly. The new Mrs. de Winter, as she’s becoming acclimated to her surroundings, finds the memory of Maxim’s first wife is still very much alive in the house, with physical evidence all around her. Not only is Maxim acting strangely when it comes to Rebecca but so is Mrs. Danvers, who keeps introducing the specter of the late wife into every situation and emotion. It’s an increasingly tense story being sold here, one filled with atmosphere and huge rooms containing layers of mystery.

Online and Social

Nope, but Netflix did provide some support on its brand social channels. It wasn’t much, though, as the company seemed focused on other recent releases over the last few weeks.

Advertising and Promotions

Netflix released the first official stills in early August, announcing the October debut date at the same time.

After the first trailer came out a short explainer video offering an overview of the story and introducing the cast was released. Hammer and James appeared in a featurette on how the book was adapted in this latest version.

A couple clips showing Mrs. Danvers being passive aggressive and part of the new lovers’ courtship came out earlier in the month.

James starred in a featurette focused on movie trivia and more.

Media and Press

In an interview from early September, Wheatley clarified that he wasn’t attempting to remake Hitchcock’s film but was instead offering his own adaptation of the source material.

Hammer appeared on “Kimmel” earlier this month to talk about the movie and did a few other interviews. James’ participation in the final publicity push seems to have been stifled by rumors regarding her personal life.

Overall

Outside of the book, the most famous version of this story is likely Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation. Compared to the marketing of that film, this one very much comes off as a kind of goth-lite, one that’s more concerned with shots of massive hallways and such than in effectively creating a sense of dread or terror akin to what the new Mrs. de Winter is supposed to be feeling.

But there is still a consistent visual brand that’s been established by the campaign. It’s just that this time around it’s a bit brighter and slicker than what’s come before. Hammer and James glide through that and look good doing it, but it remains to be seen if that’s a strong enough hook to get audiences interested.

Picking Up The Spare

Netflix released a number of extended clips in the days following the movie’s debut. 

James was interviewed on “The Tonight Show” about the film and other projects she’s involved in. She and Hammer were interviewed together about how this version is based on the original book and not meant to be a remake of Hitchcock’s classic film. 

Speaking of the source novel, a new featurette had Hammer reading select passages from the book. There was also a new behind-the-scenes video released. 

There were also two profile of the film’s costume designer about creating the look of the characters and how it plays into the style of the movie as a whole. Using a specific scene as an example, the filmmakers drilled into creating that production style. That was followed by a story about 

Wheatly was the subject of a couple additional interviews

Military Wives – Marketing Recap

How Bleecker Street is selling an inspirational drama.

military wives posterToo many times, movies and other stories are only interested in women or wives to the extent that the male lead leaves, embarking on whatever mission or job he might have. The wife or girlfriend is only seen as waiting helplessly for them to return, usually with tears in her eyes as she hugs the small child they have. Half of these movies star Mark Wahlberg.

Military Wives is about a group of women who do something for themselves as well as their community while their soldier husbands are deployed away from home. Directed by Peter Cattaneo and written by Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard, the movie stars Kristin Scott Thomas as Kate and Sharon Horgan as Lisa, two of those wives. All the women are very different, united by their status as the ones left behind, and the support group they belong to is having trouble deciding on an activity to pass the time. When they opt to form a singing group they find themselves as well as the community around them inspired and moved in ways they weren’t expecting.

The movie’s campaign has been as uplifting and funny as you’d expect from such a story, focusing on the relationships between a disparate group of adult women and the bonds they form and lives they touch.

The Posters

Just one poster, dropping this past February, for the domestic U.S. release. Lisa and Kate are shown in the foreground standing back to back with songbook in hand while the rest of the group is seen behind them to make it clear there are a lot of characters we’ll be following. Copy below the title reads “United they sing,” a nice way of communicating both the activity they participate in and the emotional value they get from it. At the very top the audience is told this comes from the director of The Full Monty, though I’m not sure what cache that movie still has.

The Trailers

Kate and Lisa are just two of the women we meet in February’s first trailer (2.3 million views on YouTube), which opens as their husbands are leaving on yet another service deployment. The group comes together in a support group to keep themselves busy and decide to form a makeshift singing group. Initial attempts get off to a rough start, but when everyone loosens up and starts having some fun things turn around. It’s clear the group will deal with the realities of their situation but thanks to those around them they have a support system to get them through the hard times.

Online and Social

There’s not much on Bleecker Street’s official website for the movie other than the basic marketing content. Because of the changes in release (more on that below) there are also links to and other information on various digital platforms where the film will be released.

Advertising and Promotions

Bleecker Street acquired distribution rights shortly after the movie’s well-received debut at the Toronto Film Festival.

A clip showing the group of women singing in a tunnel and discovering that might be something to explore was released in March.

In late April a new promo spot touted the change made by the distributor to release the movie not only to whatever drive-in theaters might be open in the U.S. but also to Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Hulu.

Additional spots have been released over the last few weeks to continue raising awareness of the new digital release plans. Those spots have focused on the women forming the singing group, the way their efforts lift people’s spirits and more.

There was also a short featurette that had the stars and filmmakers talking about the story and characters portrayed in the movie.

Media and Press

Cattaneo spoke during Toronto about the story’s mix of humor and drama and what sort of tone he wanted to strike with the movie.

An interview with Scott-Thomas had her talking about how while the story takes place in the past it’s still very relevant given countless service members continue to be regularly deployed across the world.

Overall

The studio’s campaign promises there will be a few moments of laughs, a few moments of tears and a few moments of heartfelt smiles in the film. Trailers and TV spots make the basic outlines of the story pretty clear and show what the overall arc is, meaning audiences can feel comfortable in choosing a movie that seems familiar and safe, like known quantity ahead of time.

In one way it’s unique among the others like it that have drastically pivoted their release strategy in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unlike others, it is still coming from its original distributor and wasn’t offloaded to the service. Nor is it being pushed solely to a premium VOD model. So Bleecker Street still wants to own this, just without being tied to a theatrical model.

There’s not much about the campaign that might catch people’s interest in a normal environment, but a feel-good story in the middle of so much uncertainty may hit just the right chord, especially since it will be so widely available.