You’ll find the usual marketing material on the movie’s official website, which uses the key art of the cast standing and looking tough throughout.
Media and Press
A brief interview with Ritchie accompanied the first look photo released just before the first trailer dropped.
Most of the cast, including McConaughey, Grant, Hunnam, Golding and Strong all made various appearances on late night and early morning talk shows, with the first two showing up together to banter on “The Tonight Show” late last week.
STX released a short behind the scenes video showing the creation of the “weed portrait” outdoor execution, with an artist making a sign out of different parts of the cannabis plant. Another video showed off the fan-created posters submitted in response to a call for movie-inspired artwork.
"Here's a bunch of attractive men all sporting beards and wearing nothing but knit sweaters and twead jackets."
The logline for The Beach Bum is simple and to the point: “A rebellious stoner named Moondog lives life by his own rules.” The rest of the marketing of the latest movie from writer/director Harmony Korine shows it really is that basic but also a bit more complex than what you might think based on that.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Moondog, a stoned layabout who just wants to enjoy his life, man, and not follow the rules laid out by anyone else. He’s surrounded by a group of friends and others who have similar goals, seeking little other than drugs, booze, sunshine and freedom. Isla Fisher, Zac Efron and Snoop Dogg costar.
The first poster is a psychedelic trip, with the faces of all the characters arranged in order of billing, with Moondog shown at the bottom below the collage, splayed out on the beach. Swirling lights and bright colors hint at drug-fueled story filled with exotic characters and bold personalities, a theme that’s reinforced through the copy “You gotta go low to get high.” The design is similar to what can be found on the posters for super hero films like The Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok and others, all of which place a main character at the center of an assemblage of other, minor characters. So the audience is certainly getting the message that Moondog is the focus of the story, kind of a hero in his own way for those around him.
The first teaser trailer sells the movie as something like The Big Lebowski meets Spring Breakers, showing the kind of crazy antics Moondog gets into on a regular basis, all while maintaining a steady high and having a lot of fun. Another teaser hits largely the same tone.
The next trailer, a red-band version released in January, is all over the place but completely, insanely enjoyable. Moondog is someone who drifts from one epic situation to the next free of concerns but always with a steady high going. When he gets in trouble with the law he decides it’s time to publish the novel he’s been working on for a long while, but that’s just incidental to the hijinks he’s shown as getting into on the regular.
Online and Social
NEON’s website for the movie contains the usual mix of trailers, a synopsis and links to buy tickets. “Social Assets” actually takes you to a Box folder where you can find GIFs, photos and other information, but it’s not presented in a very user-friendly way like it is on other sites. There are also links to the movie’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve been made aware of, but it’s entirely possible there have been paid social posts and online ads that haven’t come across my radar. I would expect there would be something, especially given Korine has a number of fans based on his previous film Spring Breakers.
Media and Publicity
Indiewire hosted the first look still from the film. Much later it was announced the movie would screen at SXSW, an appearance that included a red carpet and other promotional events, including scratch-and-sniff cards that smelled like weed being handed out to people there. A photo shoot featuring McConaughey showed the actor in all his hippie slacker glory along with an interview where he talked about working with Korine and more.
Moviefone hosted an exclusive clip showing Moondog talking with a sketchy dolphin-seeing tour captain, illustrating the kind of people he hangs out with but also his non judgemental nature.
Korine was interviewed about the movie and his general creative sensibilities, including mention of the “Young Twitchy” art show featuring his work that happened in New York City. There was also a profile of Stefania LaVie Owen, who plays the daughter of McConaughey and Fisher’s characters.
As I half-mentioned above, Korine has a good number of fans who were drawn to the crazy, nihilistic, sun-drenched rebellion in Spring Breakers a few years ago. So the campaign is smart to make him a focal point, particularly when it comes to the press and publicity work. His is the creative vision that has garnered the interest of so many people who want to follow his work, and this is an opportunity to do so.
McConaughey, of course, is also front and center in the marketing. The #mcconaugheysance that was in full force in the first half of the 2010s has faded recently due to some off-kilter choices. So the campaign here sells audiences on a return to his bongo-playing form, promising a movie whose main theme is that the sun-drenched actor is just hanging out and having a good time. Though it’s likely deeper than that, there’s nothing wrong with that simple selling point either.
Picking Up the Spare
McConaughey and Snoop made a joint (not sorry) appearance on “Kimmel,” with the former going out in the street for a stunt.
There were also further interviews with Korine where he talked about working with McConaughey and what he wanted to do with the story. Costume designer Heidi Bivens shared just how many thongs were required for production.
Given he’s in the movie it’s only natural McConaughey would talk about how Jimmy Buffett inspired part of his character. The subject of Efron’s hair also came up.
It seems the McConaissance may have been as short-lived as people feared. The Dazed and Confused star is, after a brief period of acclaim in a number of starring roles, back to the kind of mid-level dramas he was once consigned to. This week that’s exemplified by Serenity, in which he costars with Anne Hathaway.
In the movie McConaughey plays Baker Dill, a low key fishing boat captain with a mysterious past in a small island town. His efforts to not be noticed are disturbed when his ex-wife Karen (Hathaway) appears. She wants his help for a very disturbing task: Killing her current husband (Jason Clarke). Her arrival and the burden placed on him lead him to question a great deal of what he’s come to understand.
McConaughey and Hathaway are shown on the one-sheet split apart by a massive red tear that we see is the wake being left by a boat visible further down the image. In that red wake are the names of the stars. The mysterious nature of the story and its location are spelled out – or at least hinted at – in the copy placed above the title treatment.
It’s not a bad design, offering big photos of the two primary stars and doing a good job of explaining to the audience what’s going on. It’s not wholly memorable, but it’s memorable in its own way even if it looks like the cover to a book you consider buying at the airport but ultimately can’t commit to.
Jack is a man who’s trying to outrun his past in the first trailer, just wanting to remain largely anonymous and fish in a small New England town. His plans are interrupted by the appearance of his ex-wife, there to convince him to utilize his skills to kill her current husband, who she claims is violent toward her. The rest of the trailer is about him looking for a way to avoid doing what Karen has asked and maintain the simple lifestyle he’s built up, though it’s not looking like that’s likely for him.
It’s a dramatic thriller being sold her, something that reminds me in tone of movies like Pacific Heights and others. It’s all about hidden agendas, searching for the truth, not wanting to give into temptation and so on. McConaughey is who he is, but Hathaway and Lane look outstanding here, with the former giving off a very Barbara Stanwyck-esque vibe.
The second trailer, released in late November, strikes a similar tone but comes at the story slightly differently. It drops the connection between Jack and Karen, instead selling it as a mystery of bizarre circumstances, where Jack and the others don’t know exactly where they are or how they got there.
Online and Social
The official website established by Aviron Pictures doesn’t offer much in the way of overly-useful information beyond the basic material and content. There are sections devoted to a couple giveaways involving island vacations or gear, but that’s about it.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
The second trailer was used as a promoted post on Twitter after it was released.
Entertainment Weekly partnered with the studio on a sweepstakes awarding a winner a trip to the Dutch Caribbean, appropriate given the movie’s location.
Media and Publicity
An early production still featuring Hathaway and McConaughey constituted everyone’s first real look at the movie. Later on it was finally picked up for distribution by Aviron Pictures.
Things went dark for quite a while between those two events, but as release neared Hathaway started appearing on late night television, McConaughey showed up during football game broadcasts and elsewhere, and a clip or two was distributed to media. Hathaway was also the subject of a quick feature interview.
Not much happening here. This seems like a lackluster campaign for a movie that very much fits the definition of the “dump it in January” release, the kind of mid-grade drama that’s high concept enough to be interesting but not interesting enough to get people to come out of the cold. There’s a distinct lack of effort in not putting both stars out there more for the media, but that may simply be because they have other, more important things for them to be promoting.
Picking Up the Spare
In the last few days before the movie hit theaters a number of clips likethis one were released.
The marketing for WHITE BOY RICK sells the story of a teenage FBI informant in 1980s Detroit starring Matthew McConaughey.
White Boy Rick tells a true story set in 1980s Detroit, when the city was plagued by drugs, violence and drug-fueled violence. Richie Merritt plays Rick Wersche Jr., a young man who gets mixed up in this world, much to the dismay of his father Rick Wersche Sr. (Matthew McConaughey), attracted to the power and glamour.
Ultimately wanting to do the right thing, Ricky Jr. turns informant for the FBI at the age of 14, making him the youngest person to do so in the agency’s history. Unfortunately the bureau turns its back on him when he’s no longer useful and so Ricky Jr. decides to make a living as a drug dealer himself, something that winds up landing him in prison.
There’s an awful lot of copy on all the posters in the campaign, which makes some sense given how outrageous the story seems to be and how difficult it can be to summarize. The first includes a pretty thorough plot synopsis in large type along with a photo of the older Wersche embracing the younger on a Detroit city sidewalk.
The second has the father and son pair waling down a a snowy street, the older man carrying to rifles as if they’re going off to confront enemies of some sort.
The final poster has both Wersche’s standing amid a group of tough-looking gentlemen, some of them wearing big fur coats and gold chains to signify their power and status. The obviously Photoshopped image has Ricky Sr. looking slightly confused or befuddled about what’s happening, while a spray painted crown hover Ricky Jr.’s head. This is the only one to skip the two-sentence plot description in favor of a tagline that describe’s Jr. by calling him “Hustler. Informant. Kingpin. Legend.”
Rick is introduced in the first trailer as a unique kind of dad, unwilling to leave his native Detroit while also able to take a confrontational but loving approach to his kids and their behavior. His son, we see, is a low-level guns dealer that eventually branches out into drugs despite his father’s harsh view of them. It’s the kid’s story we’re following as we see the younger Rick move up the organization to become a legit player at the same time he’s working as an informant for the Feds.
The twist at the end is presented pretty well after the trailer initially sets the audience up for a story of a young hustler who makes it big. It’s also pretty funny, with lots of lighter moments between McConaughey and Merritt.
Online and Social
Full-screen video is featured on the landing page of the movie’s official website, with copy that reminds the audience this is “based on a true story.” There’s also the button to get tickets and links to the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles setup by the studio.
The menu at the top shows the site has the basic array of standard content, including the trailer, a synopsis and a stills gallery.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Some online and social advertising was done with the key art as well as the trailer being used for various banners and promoted posts.
An exclusive featurette for Regal Cinemas has McConaughey and others from the cast talking about the story and what it was like to make the movie. Another for AMC Theaters hit some of the same notes.
Media and Publicity
This movie was just one of two projects related to Wershe, the other being a documentary. The director of that project was out there talking about his film as well as the fictionalized version in the lead up to release. Around that same time McConaughey spoke about researching the story and meeting with the real person he’s playing while director Yann Demange talked about how the movie tried to identify with everyone’s perspective. Both offered similar comments to USA Today when that site debuted the first trailer.
The movie was announced as one of those screening at the Toronto International Film Festival and then at Telluride. Around the time of those appearances a featurette was released with the cast and filmmakers offering some information on the real person and story that serves as the basis of the movie. Those festivals created some positive buzz, including awards speculation for McConaughey.
While at Telluride, the cast and crew participated in a Q&A along with the screening that had them talking about the true story behind the movie. Further conversations with the cast had McConaughey praising his young costar as well as how the movie reflects the reality of poverty in America. He also explained how his character, the older Wersche, was kind of a passive loser, buffeted by the forces around him at the time.
This is a tough sell because it’s hard to position the story as a cautionary one when so many movies glorify the behavior and lifestyle that Ricky Jr. wound up getting put in jail for. What’s interesting to me is that the part about the FBI throwing Ricky Jr. under the bus after he’d done their dirty work for him seems the more compelling angle, but it’s the one that’s largely missing from the campaign. Instead the focus is on Jr.’s rise in the criminal organizations, which seem like an angry white kid wanting to be “hood” despite having a loving father supporting him.
The conversation around the movie never really seemed to take off until it hit Telluride and critics saw it for themselves. Given the tight window between that screening and theatrical release it may not be enough to boost opening weekend, but we’ll see if it can find an audience.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
Sony has released a TIFF sizzle reel featuring some of the activities from the festival.
Matthew McConaugheyexplains how different his role in the movie was for him and how he worked to get into character. And costar Bruce Dern wasinterviewed about his role and his career. McConaughey also later showed up on “Late Night” to talk about the movie as well as his mom and her Hollywood aspirations. Sony released a shortvignette with interviews and scenes from the cast and movie.
Stephen King comes back to theaters with the release of this week’s The Dark Tower. The movie is based on the popular series of eight books from the author that tell the story of The Gunfighter (Idris Elba), a kind of knight whose order is charged with the protection of their world. That includes protecting the Dark Tower, a mystical structure that is integral to the balance between light and dark that’s enjoyed by all the worlds of the multiverse.
Challenging that balance is the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), the embodiment of humanity’s dark nature and a servant of the underworld. As these two magical, elemental forces collide the story and their conflict unfolds through the eyes of Lucas (Nicholas Hamilton), a young boy from Earth who has begun having visions of a strange, mysterious tower. He eventually crosses over into the world where The Gunslinger and the Man in Black are waging their war, in part causing that war to come to Earth.
The first poster promised a mind-bending adventure. Two figures stand at the bottom of the image while a cityscape hovers above them, the buildings upside down from the perspective of those characters. “There are other worlds than these” according to the text that appears alongside the title treatment.
Around the time the first trailer debuted there were two new posters released, one showing The Gunslinger and other showing The Man in Black, with copy on each saying “One man sworn to protect it” and other “And one man to destroy it” just in case anyone needed further clarification on character motivations.
Two more posters took the same approach, with each of the main characters on a different poster, the Gunslinger in the city and The Man in Black on a barren landscape with the titular tower in the background.
Another poster shows the Man in Black and The Gunslinger with their backs to each other, the tower that they’re fighting over in the background. The Man in Black stands in the other world where their battle takes place while The Gunslinger is standing in our real world, showing the split settings of the story.
As the first trailer opens we get the backstory on the Gunslingers and their role as protectors. We meet a boy who’s having visions of the conflict between the two powerful forces and see him find a portal to the world where the battle is being fought. He meets and falls under the protection of the Gunslinger and finds out about the importance of The Tower. Eventually the Gunslinger comes back to Earth with the boy but That Man is Black follows him there and the fight continues. There’s some talk about how he doesn’t shoot with his hand but with his mind and lots of cool action sequences right up to the end.
It’s a pretty good trailer, explaining enough of the story to make it more or less attractive to those of us who haven’t read the source book. While hardcore fans weren’t thrilled with some of the liberties that were taken, the trailer presents an intriguing premise of a shadow war being fought that impacts all our fates and, more than anything, shows off Elba and his sweat-soaked performance.
Online and Social
The official website opens with the trailer playing in a pop-up window. That goes along with “Videos” being the first option in the content menu at the top of the page. After that is “About,” which has a brief synopsis of the movie’s story.
A “Gallery” of about five stills featuring the two lead characters is next, followed by a “Cast & Crew” section that has lists of those involved in making the movie.
Other than the links to the movie’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles, the final section on the site is the “Journey to the Dark Tower.” That’s not a great site but takes you to the world of the tower where you can move the camera around and click on some bright lights that play short clips from the film. It’s not much of a journey as you don’t seem to move toward the tower at all.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
A series of TV spots began running in early June that featured narration from The Man in Black or the Gunslinger. Each one sets up the conflict from various ways, explaining who these characters are and what motivates them along with one that brings it all together to sell the movie as basically a superhero story about the fight between right and wrong.
Outdoor and online ads used the key art featuring the two leads or just an image of the tower while social ads utilized the trailer.
Media and Publicity
There was tons of conversation, speculation and reports about casting, filming and more, but the official publicity campaign kicked off with a first look at official stills featuring McConaughey, Elba and others in Entertainment Weekly. Along with the pictures the cast talked about the movie, their characters and more, including how King himself got involved in some ways to help the movie along.
Shortly before release director Nik Arcel cleared up some confusion around the story by stating it wasn’t really an adaptation but a sequel to previous Dark Tower stories, meaning it’s part of the universe not a straight retelling of the book’s story. That’s an…interesting perspective that actually has a high probability of turning off the general audience since it means some prior knowledge is required to get the full mythology of the world. Arcel also commented on the movie’s short – just 95 minutes – runtime, explaining it resulted from a tight script for what was meant to just be the first of many chapters in the overall story.
Not sure what it means about the appeal of this movie specifically but there was a late push to highlight its connections to other Stephen King properties, hoping to draw people in with easter eggs to other movies and stories. That seems like the studios admitting it has a weak hand.
While the cast made the press and talk show rounds to promote the movie and talk about how it compares with the source novels, the big last minute story was one that detailed the troubled road the movie had taken to the big screen. That began with ambitious plans to make a seven movie series with a TV series tie-in that was ultimately pared down, though TV plans are still in the works. Closer to release it also included problematic test screenings, reports of creative clashes between the director, producers and studio execs.
There’s so much going on with this campaign that it’s hard to get my head around it. “So much” not in the sense of a movie like some of the other big releases from this and other years, where there are an overwhelming amount of trailers, promotional tie-ins and other elements designed to inundate the audience with sheer volume of messaging. No, instead the movie’s message to potential moviegoers is weighed down with so much baggage, the result of its troubled path to production.
That baggage involves more than just the one or two big stories that have detailed specific issues or behind-the-scenes conflict. It also is manifests in the relatively small campaign that’s been mounted. Just one trailer was released, and the posters were all variations on the same theme, none featuring interesting designs or unique appeals. This was not a full-throated effort.
Other major studio release campaigns might suffer from a bit of bloat. Conversely, this one suffers from severe anorexia, especially for a movie that 1) Is a major fantasy release, 2) Is based on a book by a well-known author and 3) Has a built-in fanbase because of those books. Simply the fact that only one trailer was produced and that it only came three months before the movie’s opening weekend creates an odor of issues around it. That might turn the public off, allowing them to feel fine as they choose to finally check out Dunkirk or Baby Driver or see Wonder Woman again.