Picking Up The Spare: Last Flag Flying, Detroit, Lady Bird

Last Flag Flying

Another interview with director Richard Linklater about his career, the pivot to a story that’s outside of what he usually tells and more.

Detroit

The movie is returning to theaters in select markets around the time it hits home video and there’s a new trailer for that release that hits some very different emotional and narrative beats than were seen in the original campaign.

Lady Bird

More conversations with writer/director Greta Gerwig about the path she took to making this movie as well as with the costume and production designers about creating the look of the movie.

Costar Beanie Feldstein, who plays the title character’s friend in the film, is getting more and more attention now that it’s in theaters, including this profile and interview. And Tracy Letts, who plays the out-of-work father, talks here about how quickly he was attracted to the script and to working with Gerwig.

Thor: Ragnarok

Director Taika Waititi talks here about how he got the rights to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” and thank goodness he did considering how well it plays in the trailer.

Jeff Goldblum explains how he got involved in such a grandiose film and how he worked with Waititi to create a colorful and memorable character.

I don’t think I included this late-breaking trailer in my recap but it’s lots of fun, in no small part because of some cool Valkyrie sequences.

Daddy’s Home 2

Will Ferrell made appearances on late night TV, though as usual those were centered more around his antics than the movie itself.

A great piece here on the fact that Mel Gibson has apparently been totally forgiven by Hollywood (and likely audiences) without really doing anything.

Novitiate

Melissa Leo talks more here about how she took on the role of the Reverend Mother with additional comments from writer/director Maggie Betts on the actress and the character she plays.

Murder on the Orient Express

Not that surprisingly, the costume design for the highly-stylized film has finally received some press attention along with the production design.

Kenneth Branagh talks here about how he updated the story a bit to make it a bit more relevant and accessible for the audience.

Wonder

Lionsgate worked with Jigsaw, part of the Alphabet network of companies, to create a Chrome extension that finds offensive or inflammatory comments and replaces them with messages of kindness. I’m not quite sure I get how that doesn’t cross over into “creepy censorship,” but whatever.

Julia Roberts spoke here about walking the line of sentimentality in the story.

That Facebook Messenger bot I was unsure of a few days ago was what I expected it to be, a platform for people to message the page and receive an inspirational message in return. You can see a video promoting the chatbot, created by imperson, here.

Justice League

Finally, here’s the kind of profile of Gal Gadot that I was hoping to see earlier in the campaign.

Jeremy Irons did a bit of late-night TV to talk about playing Alfred in such a massive production.

Get Out

Jordan Peele has not only responded in his own way to the movie’s categorization as a comedy by the HFPA but also crashed a college course that was discussing the film.

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

Last Flag Flying – Marketing Recap

The emotional trauma and bonds of brotherhood that results from experiences in war are explored in the new movie Last Flag Flying. Written and directed by Richard Linklater, the movie stars Steve Carell as a man who learns his son, who followed his example and joined the Marines, has died in the Iraq War in 2003.

Before setting out on the trip to claim his son’s remains for burial, Larry (Carell) tracks down and enlists the help of two of his closest friends from their time in the service, Richard (Laurence Fishburne) and Sal (Bryan Cranston). Larry doesn’t just want to be there for his son’s return but wants to take him back to his hometown for burial, eschewing – to the surprise of most – a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Posters

The three friends stand together on the first poster, Larry clutching the folded flag he received upon retrieving his son’s body. That clearly conveys to the audience that death, as well as friendship, is at the center of the story. The friendship angle is reinforced by the copy that reads “Their last mission wasn’t on the battlefield.”

The Trailers

We meet Sal and Larry as the trailer opens, with them having taken some sort of impromptu road trip and go find Mueller. All three were buddies in the Marines back in the day and Larry’s son, who did likewise, has been killed. The Corps wants to bury him at Arlington, but Larry wants to bring him home, so his friends join in the effort, despite the obstacles.

So it’s being sold as a road trip movie featuring three reunited old friends. What sets this apart from other movies that have had similar stories is the talent and charisma of the three leads as well as the emotional story. This isn’t a crazy comedy where there will be at least three Viagra jokes, the trailer promises, it will be a drama about family, grieving and your duty to old friends.

It should also be noted that for as many times as I’ve watched this trailer, I still well up every damn time. It’s the music. It’s the story. It’s the stoic grief. It’s…yeah.

Online and Social

Load up the official website and the trailer starts playing in case you need a good cry this morning. Once it closes you get a recreation of the key art of the three actors looking somberly at the camera. There’s a prompt to get tickets on the page while at the bottom are links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Moving on to the content menu at the top of the page, “Synopsis” offers a brief write-up of the story. Skipping over “Videos,” which just has the trailer, next up is the “Gallery,” where you can check out a number of production stills.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Some online and social advertising was done around the release of the trailer as well as in the last week using the trailer, short clips or variations on the key art.

While I couldn’t find them online, it does seem some TV advertising was done recently, with the movie’s Twitter account sharing a photo of a commercial that apparently aired during one of this past weekend’s World Series broadcasts.

Media and Publicity

News broke back in June that the movie would get a high-profile debut by screening at this year’s New York Film Festival, where it went on to garner decent praise and buzz and where Linklater talked about it briefly, including praising Amazon Studios for helping him to make the movie after a decade of false starts.

Shortly after the first trailer debuted and while the movie was screening at festivals Linklater talked about finally making a movie about grown-ups, how time spent with friends inspired some of the story and more.

While at NYFF, Fishburne addressed how the intent was not to tie the movie to anything overtly political happening at the moment but to tell the story of a father doing what he can to grieve for and honor his dead son. Linklater made similar comments, saying the story would have played out the same even if Hillary Clinton was currently occupying the White House.

Where the movie falls in Cranston’s career was the primary subject of this feature interview as well as how he decides what roles to take, regardless of how they might be viewed by others.

Cranston and Carell have made a few media appearances in recent weeks and will likely be making more in the coming days as we get close to release.

Overall

Amazon Studios’ campaign isn’t massive, possibly because it follows just a week after the release of Wonderstruck, for which there was a much more comprehensive and general push. That’s not to say it hasn’t put a solid or committed effort together, just that the lack of additional paid efforts and a more subdued publicity campaign adds up to signal that this is a movie it doesn’t think will have the widespread appeal of that other movie.

While the volume may not be quite what we’ve seen for other movies, the emotions here are the real selling point. Everything about the campaign wants you to feel Larry’s conviction, determination and stubbornness deeply, mostly be experiencing them through the filter of Sal and Richard. Linklater has underscored this in interviews, but there really isn’t anything political in the campaign. It’s just about a father who wants to do right by his son and needs the emotional and other help of two men he’s always been able to count on. It’s not taking a stance on the war or anything, it’s just about dealing with a tragedy no parent should have to face in the most manageable way he can.

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