Judy – Marketing Recap

The actress’ performance as Judy Garland has earned rave reviews.

judy poster 2Renée Zellweger stepped away from the spotlight from 2010-2016. Beginning with Bridget Jones’s Baby and a handful of other roles she’s slowly come back since then, including the Netflix series “What/If.”

With this week’s Judy the return to stardom seems complete. Zellweger plays Judy Garland, but instead of being a general biopic that follows its subject from early through later years, this movie focuses on one specific part of Garland’s life. Specifically, it takes place in 1968 when Garland is short on opportunities and anxious to continue providing for her family. She’s offered an engagement in London, where she meets Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), who years later would become her fifth husband.

The campaign mounted by Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment has worked to showcase the kind of struggles faced by Garland at the time she headed to London for the five weeks of sold out shows. Mostly, though, it’s worked to showcase how fully Zellweger has fully taken on the look, feel and mannerisms of Garland to tell a key chapter in the later years of a Hollywood legend.

The Posters

judy posterZellweger as Garland is decked out in a dressy worthy of a night at the club on the first poster (by marketing agency Empire Design), released in May. She’s looking classy and elegant, with the actress seeming to fully inhabit the role. Copy below the title promises to show audiences “the legend behind the rainbow.”

The second poster (by marketing agency LA) was released in July and sports a similar approach, showing Zellweger as Garland in an appropriate showbiz setting. This time she’s placed in front of a bank of stage lights and shown in stark black-and-white.

The Trailers

The first brief teaser (639,000 views on YouTube) released in May focuses on the ups and downs of Garland’s career and personal life. There’s no dialogue, just a version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as performed by Zellweger that plays over the footage.

We get a more complete picture in the second trailer (1.5 million views on YouTube), released in early July. Judy’s career is in a rough patch when she agrees to travel to London for a series of performances that could help her financially, even as she struggles with leaving her kids behind to do so. Her anxiety over performing sometimes gets the better of her, a situation not made any better by her addictions, but a budding romance with a younger man helps in some ways. It’s a drama being sold here about a woman struggling to make her mark and be a good mother even while, as we see at the end, she fears she’ll be forgotten by everyone else.

Online and Social

While the front page of the official website is very nice with its full-screen video, the content of the site isn’t all that engaging and is easily browsed in just a few minutes. No additional information or background on Garland or anything else that may add context to the movie and story.

Advertising and Publicity

The Toronto Film Festival announced the movie would screen in the “Special Presentations” section of this year’s event. It also played at Venice and had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.

At the end of August, Zellweger’s version of “Over the Rainbow,” Garland’s signature piece from The Wizard of Oz, was released, allowing the studio to show off the vocal performance of the star, a key selling point of the film.

Commercials began running on TV in early September that showed the drama of Garland’s life and the choices – and compromises – she has to make in order to support her family. Another simply held her up as an iconic voice looking to maintain her legacy.

The TIFF screening was notable for the extended standing ovation it received, with much of the buzz coming out of Toronto being about Zellweger’s performance in the title role.

A featurette released at the same time the movie was making headlines in Toronto had the cast and crew, as well as folks who witnessed the events depicted in the film firsthand, talking about Garland and Zellweger’s performance.

Late last week The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted the Los Angeles premiere of the film, with appearances by the cast and crew along with others and a renewed belief Zellweger will be among the frontrunners as awards season approaches.

Media and Press

Things really kicked off when a first-look photo of Zellweger as Garland was shared even before the movie had U.S. distribution, which was finally solidified with a partnership between LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions.

A minor firestorm emerged when Garland’s daughter Liza Minnelli publicly disavowed the movie, saying she had never spoken to anyone involved and did not sanction it in any way.

In mid-August a handful of exclusive stills showed more looks at the film.

An interview with Zellweger had her explaining what did or didn’t shock her during her exploration of Garland’s life and how she could relate to some of the actor’s troubles.

Zellweger’s version of “Over the Rainbow” was released in early September.

There was a substantive profile of Zellweger that covered how the actress stepped away from the spotlight for several years, only coming back to the film industry recently.

While in Toronto, Zellweger was interviewed about working with various musicians on the movie’s soundtrack and how she worked to strip away the myths and legends to find the real Garland.

The cast, along with director Rupert Goold, showed up on “Good Morning America” to offer insights into the movie and share details. Prior to that Zellweger was interviewed on “CBS Sunday Morning” about the film and her career.

The movie’s premiere allowed Zellweger and others to talk about how thrilled they were to be telling the story of Garland and how inspired by her the actress was. She offered similar comments when she appeared on “The Late Show.”

AMC offered an exclusive interview with Zellweger just prior to release.

Zellweger’s time away from the public eye and what she hopes to accomplish with her return were covered in a feature profile that covered many other topics as well.

Overall

Zellweger’s tentative comeback from the last few years is now seemingly complete, with her transformative performance earning accolades from the press who were privy to early festival screenings and a campaign that has worked hard to bring her back into the public eye. She is, understandably, the biggest selling point the studio has to offer audiences.

Along with that is an emphasis on the recreation of 1968 London and in particular the nightclub Garland was performing in. That setting is integral to the story and the setting Zellweger’s Garland is operating in. It’s also much more specific than what’s found in many biopics, something the studio has taken advantage of with the featurette and more.

Still, it’s Zellweger that both is and plays the star. That her performance is such a complete change into the legend provides a hook with which the studio can really hook the audience.

Picking Up the Spare

More from the movie’s costume designer about creating the wardrobe that plays a big part in the story.

Zellweger continued talking about how she worked to inhabit the character of Garland.

The woman who was Garland’s assistant during her time in London was interviewed about her time with the star and the reality of the movie.

Another profile of Zellweger that has her talking about her thoughts on Garland and more.

Trial By Fire – Marketing Recap

trial by fire posterTrial By Fire, in limited release this week, is another story of justice set aside. Jack O’Connell stars as Cameron Todd Willingham in the true story of how he was convicted of murder following a house fire that claimed the life of his three young daughters. He maintains the fire was accidental, but authorities believe they have their man, driven by a need to hold someone responsible.

To his aid comes Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern), a woman who believes Willingham hasn’t received the best legal aid and is being railroaded by the system. Over the course of more than a decade, she uncovers new evidence and finds potential wrongdoing among various investigators, all while Willingham languishes on death row, ultimately executed for a crime he insists he didn’t commit.

The Posters

Elizabeth and Cameron both appear on the poster, the latter twice. Once at the top his face is alongside the burning house that has sent him to prison while at the bottom he’s looking up at the sky, perhaps hopeful his innocence will finally come to light. She’s in the middle, looking determined. Copy at the bottom tells the audience to “Stand for what’s right. Fight for what’s true.’ while at the top we’re sold on the fact it comes from the director of such well-regarded dramas as Glory and Legends of the Fall.

The Trailers

Cameron is sitting on death row as the trailer opens, thereafter being found guilty of murder. When Elizabeth comes to visit him, she wants to hear his side of the events that sent him to prison. He continues to protest his innocence, something she comes around to believing as she finds there were serious problems with the prosecution, defense and overall investigation. Smacking down a bit of casual sexism, she keeps on digging and fighting but keeps butting up against a broken system that doesn’t want to admit fault or change because it helps some people feel safe.

Online and Social

Not much on the movie’s official website, just the trailers, a synopsis and a prompt to save a release date reminder to your calendar.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve come across.

Media and Publicity

Its debut at the Telluride Film Festival generated moderately positive reviews. Much later – February, 2019 – it was picked up by Roadside Attractions.

Zwick was interviewed about the politics of the death penalty and the message he wanted to send with this story. He and others in the cast and crew made a few other media appearances and sat down for the occasional chat, but not much.

Overall

It’s surprising that Ed Zwick, who has a string of successful and popular movies to his credit, has a new movie coming out that isn’t being widely discussed. There may have been some targeted outreach to get interest groups focused on the death penalty to see and talk about the film, but in general circles there’s little conversation about a movie that seems to cover such an important topic.

Dern, of course, looks like a major attraction for the movie in addition to the subject matter. She’s consistently excellent and surely elevates the material behind the Movie Of The Week status is might have been, just as Zwick’s involvement likely does. Just as with the handful of movies about police shootings of black men, stories of how justice is miscarried – either accidentally or willfully – should get more attention as they shed light on serious societal issues.

Picking Up the Spare

Wick was interviewed about how he got involved with the movie, working with the cast and the story he tried to tell. 

Ben is Back – Marketing Recap

ben is back posterBen Is Back, the new movie from writer/director Peter Hedges, is the latest of this year’s releases to tackle in some manner the drug and opioid epidemics that have been sweeping through the U.S. in the recent past. Lucas Hedges – Peter’s son – plays Ben, a young man who has left his home and family because he was caught up in trouble because of drugs.

One day just before Christmas he returns home, much to the bewilderment of everyone in the family. His mother Holly (Julia Roberts) on the other hand is thrilled, happy to have her son back and confident she can help him. It soon becomes clear, though, that he’s still in trouble and that his return may have put everyone else in harm’s way.

The Posters

Ben is embracing his mom on the first poster, positioning this as a mother/son drama, though there’s not much information about the story or characters beyond that.

The Trailers

The teaser trailer certainly lives up to the movie’s name. We see Ben approach the vacant house from the back (odd…) before walking out into the driveway as the rest of the family arrives. Holly is thrilled and immediately rushes out to greet him. And that’s all there is. There’s obviously some history and reason behind why everyone is so surprised to see him, but it’s not explained here.

The first full trailer picks up at about the same moment the teaser leaves off, with Holly happy Ben is home and making excuses for his behavior. His presence is putting his family at risk, though, as people from his past resurface, some of whom turn to violent means to get the money he still owes them. She’s unwilling to give up on him even as he falls back into some of his old habits but it ends on an upbeat note, promising the audience a happy ending to all the drama.

Online and Social

You can get tickets on the front page of the movie’s official website. Other than that the site just has the two trailers, a story synopsis and a cast and crew list. There are also links to the official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Media and Publicity

The movie was added to the lineup of the Austin Film Festival.

This was one of a handful of projects involving Hedges tackling intense and difficult issues, something the actor talked about in this interview. Roberts also spoke frequently on what is was about this movie that drew her back in front of the camera.

There were Q&As with the cast and director when the movie screened at the Toronto International Film Festival a couple months ago.

A major feature just recently had both the younger and elder Hedges talking about working together, something Lucas wasn’t keen to do but which he was convinced to do in part because of how his father was moved to tell a very personal story. That was also the focus of another joint interview with the two.

The writer/director was also interviewed about his career to date and what he wanted to accomplish with this movie.

Overall

For as much as Roberts was placed in the spotlight, it’s the two Hedges that really form the core of the campaign, providing a strong reason to see the movie. With Peter, the audience is promised an emotional story that has personal overtones while Lucas is one of the most buzzed-about actors of the last few years, with a number of recent movies that have touched on some of the most gripping issues in society today.

It’s that last point that really hits home, forming the central message of the campaign. Like Beautiful Boy and a couple others, this is a movie that wants to capture a moment when parents and children are being torn apart by drugs, with serious ramifications for everyone.

Picking Up The Spare

Another story on how Hedges had to be convinced to take the role in his father’s movie, this time with Roberts being the one making the case. Roberts was also interviewed again about the changes she’s made to her career along the way.

Both Roberts and Hedges have made some late night TV appearances to talk about the movie. The two were interviewed jointly about the mother/son dynamic of the movie and the story of addiction they’re telling.

The Oath – Marketing Recap

the oath poster 3Ike Barinholtz writes, directs and stars in this week’s new release The Oath. He plays Chris, who’s married to Kai (Tiffany Haddish). The couple are having his family over for Thanksgiving dinner, but what should just be a standard uncomfortable get-together is given a sharper edge because he disagrees with them politically on pretty much every issue.

Chief among those disagreements is The Oath, a new requirement the government is putting in place whereby all citizens must swear loyalty to the United States. Chris’ right-wing family sees no problem in this, but the more liberal Chris can’t get over how wrong that feels and so fights – both verbal and otherwise – break out over the course of the time everyone spends together.

The Posters

A hand breaks out of he sign that’s featured on the first poster, a pen clutched in the fingers as the text blares out “America needs you to sign The Oath.” It’s reminiscent of propaganda posters from the past, intentionally so as a way to make sure everyone gets the political message.

Another teaser featured a riff on the “live free or die” image of a chopped-up snake, though this one’s head is a fountain pen and the reminder is to “sign or die,” which is a bit more ominous.

The next actually shows the text of The Oath, with the promise of loyalty to the president at the top and the names of the cast members shown below lines for them to affix their signatures. A blood splatter in the corner hints at the uneasy process that’s behind all this.

The final theatrical poster finally shows both Barinholtz and Haddish, but the image of them holding a turkey – albeit one with the knife still in its back – is less political and more just goofy holiday comedy. That’s reinforced by the copy “Nothing is more American than family drama.” It seems like someone decided to go a bit more broad at the end here.

The Trailers

The first short trailer does a great job of explaining what’s happening in the movie. We see that Kai and Chris are at a family gathering, neither of them excited about what’s going to happen over the next few days. Those fears wind up being valid as a dinner table argument – and so much more – erupts over everyone’s reaction to the fictional “Patriot’s Oath” that everyone is about to be required to sign. Chris is the liberal in a sea of conservatives and so is the subject of everyone’s scorn and over the course of the get together people are tased, punched and otherwise assaulted in various ways.

Another short teaser that was more about the crazy gathering of family at an awkward time came out in early September.

A red-band trailer from late September starts out by presenting it as a kind of B-grade horror movie before moving into the story of how Kai and Chris are the only members of the assembled family not willing and eager to sign the oath. New here is a bit of implication as to what happens – or could happen – when someone refuses to do so, which is a bit ominous.

Online and Social

There’s fullscreen video on the front page of the official website, which is presented in the shaky style of the final red-band trailer. In the middle of that is a prompt to save the release date to your digital calendar. Other than that there’s just the “Videos,” a “Synopsis” and some “Social Assets to download along with links to the movie’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The first trailer was promoted on Twitter shortly after release through paid boosting of Barinholtz’s Tweet. A similar tactic was used after the full trailer was released in mid-September.

A TV spot from early October boiled the story down to a kooky comedy about a bickering family, only hinting at the political and societal overtones in the movie.

Media and Publicity

While this movie’s release was still a ways out at the time, a THR cover story on Haddish included mention of it as one of the in-demand actor’s upcoming projects. It was later revealed the movie would premiere at the LA Film Festival. How the story resonated with her as disturbingly plausible was covered in this interview with Haddish mentioning her many films this fall.

One of the movie’s producers tried to connect this to other movies like Get Out that touched on racial issues in modern America. A profile of Barinholtz followed that let him talk about directing as well as various political issues.

Overall

I’m kind of curious what the thinking was behind the last-minute adjustment to make the campaign a bit less overtly political. There seems to have been a left turn taken to make it less “scary alt America” and more “horror drama comedy,” perhaps because the political stuff wasn’t testing well or reality began to creep a bit too close to satire.

That being said, it does look pretty funny and is one of a number of authoritarian-minded political movies, something I’m sure isn’t a trend for any reason at all. Haddish is emphasized as much as possible but it’s clear she’s less of a powerhouse in the story here than she has been elsewhere, but the studio still wants her to bring in fans. Whether or not that works remains to be seen.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Barinholtz talks more directly than he had before here and here about how the current administration at least partly inspired this story of authoritarian overreach.

Ike Barinholtz appeared on “Kimmel” to talk about working with Haddish and more.

Another profile of him where he explains how the current political climate inspired the story. He also shared what kind of advice he got from Jordan Peele about making a race-centric comedy.

There was also another profile of Haddish and her career so far.

Lizzie – Marketing Recap

The marketing campaign for LIZZIE, about the Lizzie Borden murder case, sells a tragic romance at the end of the 19th century.

lizzie posterThe story of Lizzie Borden is one that’s captivated the American psyche for well over 100 years now, commonly being referred to as the first “celebrity” killers in the country’s history. This week’s new movie Lizzie tells her story, or at least a version of it.

Chloë Sevigny plays Lizzie, a woman well past the common marrying age for the time who still lives with her father and stepmother. One day a new housekeeper named Bridget (Kristen Stewart) comes to work at the house and eventually becomes both emotionally and physically involved with Lizzie. The older Bordon’s oppressive and abusive behavior becomes too much for the two women and, in some way, he and his wife end up dead, leading to rumor and speculation in the small Massachusetts town where they live.

The Posters

The two women stand close together on the first poster against a white background, with the light from behind them creating an ax-shaped shadow on the ground. That’s a bit on-the-nose, but it’s actually nicely countered by the positive critics’ quotes that fill the rest of the white space.

The Trailers

Lizzie’s father is not a good man, we see in the first trailer, assaulting the new housemaid almost as soon as she arrives. Bridget’s fear of him and the growing connection – which we see becomes a physical and romantic attraction – between her and Lizzie is soon found out by him and so, with all that happening, Lizzie takes violent matters into her own hands.

It’s a relatively short, or at least moderately-paced, trailer that shows off the period tone and dark story of the movie. The chemistry between Sevigny and Stewart is not only seen but praised through the appearance of quotes from early screenings that are displayed over the footage. Sparse, melancholic music plays to heighten the tension and sense of dread.

Online and Social

There’s not much happening on the official website, which just features the trailer, a synopsis and links to the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A doomed and tragic romance that ends in murder is the story sold in the first TV spot, debuting in late August. Much of the story framing from the trailer is removed in favor of pulse-pounding quick cuts and shots of desperate conversations being had. A “digital spot” a short while later kept the focus on the tension while hinting at the friendship (and more) between Lizzie and Bridget.

Media and Publicity

A first look still from the film was shared at the same time it was announced it would premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, with the movie being cited as one many critics were anxious to see there. While there the cast talked quite a bit about the film, with Sevigny commenting on the nudity at the core of one its centerpiece scenes and how this version of the story ties into the #metoo movement by being female-driven about about women reclaiming their power from men.

The buzz around the film led to a bidding war that eventually ended when Saban Films picked it up. Shortly after that Stewart addressed the timely themes of the movie as well as the realities that needed to be represented regarding how long it took for women in that period to take their clothes off and what constituted a good reason to do so.

A clip featuring a pivotal moment from the story was released just a couple days before the movie hit theaters.

Overall

The focus of the campaign is less on the murders themselves as it is on the relationship between Lizzie and Bridget. That’s what is driving the drama forward here, with the murders that someone commits being a result of that, not something separate from it. You see that in the trailer as well as in the publicity efforts.

It’s the star power of the actors involved that has the most potential to get people’s attention. My guess is the Lizzie Borden case isn’t as well known now as it was several years ago, so it’s on Stewart and Sevigny to bring out the public that has come see them in other things.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Sevigny received a substantial profile here that talked about how the movie plays into her long-term career aspirations and affinity for challenging roles.

 

Chloe Sevigny talks here about how she’s wanted to make the movie for years, largely as a way to create the kind of role she’s been looking for. She also says the legends of the real people being portrayed were prominent on set.

 

Both Sevigny and Stewart talk about the production of he movie and the kind of story they were trying to tell.
A couple additional TV spots came out just as the movie was released, one that focused on the “40 whacks” Borden allegedly gave her father and one on the relationship between Lizzie and the family’s new housekeeper.

 

Juliet, Naked – Marketing Recap

juliet naked posterWriter Nick Hornby has provided the fodder for a number of charming and enjoyable films, often about the intersection of romance and obsessive music fandom. Along those lines comes this week’s Juliet, Naked. The movie stars Chris O’Dowd as Duncan, a guy who’s the world’s biggest fan of singer Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), much to the chagrin and slight embarrassment of his longtime girlfriend Annie (Rose Byrne)

When Annie writes a scathing review of Crowe’s latest album, the singer contacts her and eventually comes to visit her when he’s nearby. The two strike up a somewhat friendly relationship, though Duncan at first doesn’t believe this is happening. Eventually things get complicated as the attraction between Annie and Duncan grows stronger, fueled by her discontent with the status quo and his desire for something more authentic in his life.

The Posters

Annie, Duncan and Tucker are all shown on the poster, Annie and Tucker touching and flirting while Duncan is left looking confused. All three are positioned behind a wall of record storage shelves to make sure the audience understands the story has to do with music.

The Trailers

As we see when the trailer opens, the relationship between Annie and Duncan is beginning to disintegrate as she finds herself at the end of her rope with his constant inability to commit or grow up as well as his obsession with his favorite singer. When she writes a scathing review of Crowe’s new album he reaches out and the two strike up a friendship before he travels to visit her. That doesn’t sit well with Duncan, who refuses to believe it’s really Crowe, even while the singer and Annie hit it off and the two start up a bit of an affair.

I really like Hawke when he’s loose like this and am always a fan of Byrne, who seems to glide through the movie on charm. Even if I didn’t know this was based on a Hornby story, I’d guess this was based on a Hornsby story.

Online and Social

It’s a pretty bare bones official website from Lionsgate/Roadside. The homepage has a “Save to Calendar” prompt but not an option to actually buy tickets, as well as links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. “Videos” just has the one trailer while “Synopsis” has a story recap and cast/crew lists.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’m aware of or have seen in the paid department.

Media and Publicity

The star power of the cast alone explains why critics often included it as one of the films they were most looking forward to screening at the Sundance Film Festival. Lionsgate/Roadside picked it up shortly after the festival finished up.

A short profile of Hawke mentioned this was one of several films he had coming out in the near future while also allow him to openly lobby for the chance to give a “meaningful” performance in a big budget sci-fi/fantasy film. There was also a profile later on of costar Lily Newmark as this was one of several high-profile films the young actress was and is appearing in this year.

GQ ran a more extensive profile of Hawke that allowed the actor to talk about his career to date, what he tries to accomplish with the roles he takes on and more. Those profiles were about it since he’s just come off the publicity cycle for First Reformed and other recent movies. Bryne, though, stopped by “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie and other topics.

Overall

It’s not a huge campaign, but if you’re a fan of previous Hornby adaptations or just want a movie that looks breezy, charming and entertaining there’s a strong case for this being a good choice. Byrne is her usual wonderful self and Hawke is always at his best when he’s playing it loose. The poster makes it look a little more madcap than the trailer, but that’s a small quibble in what’s otherwise a solid, if small-scale, campaign.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Star Rose Byrne talks about the shift in focus of the story from book to movie with IndieWire.

 

More on the music created for the soundtrack, this time with a focus on former Lemonheads member Jesse Peretz.

 

A clip showing the interplay between Byrne and Hawke was released to help keep some positive word of mouth going.

 

Chris O’Dowd made an appearance on late night TV while a profile of Rose Byrne calls out how she’s an extremely underrated comedic powerhouse.
The team responsible for creating the music of Ethan Hawke’s musician in the movie talk about that process here.

Gringo – Marketing Recap

gringo posterDavid Oyelowo, who to date has primarily in dramas, gets to flex his comedic muscles in this week’s Gringo. He plays Harold, a mid-level executive at a pharmaceutical company that’s looking to corner the market with an innovation around medical marijuana. To help bring that plan to fruition he’s dispatched by Richard and Elaine (Joel Edgerton and Charlize Theron, respectively), the company’s high-powered heads, to deliver a new formula to a plant in Mexico so production can begin.

Things go badly for Harold pretty quickly. What he thought was going to be a simple business trip turns into a life-or-death situation as he finds himself playing the pawn in the games being played on one hand by Richard and Elaine and on the other by the drug cartel they’ve honked off. It takes all his luck and wit just to stay alive as everyone, it seems, is gunning for him for various reasons. The only help he finds comes from the mercenary dispatched to find him (Sharlto Copley) and Sunny (Amanda Seyfried), a young woman who he meets in the course of his adventures.

Continue reading “Gringo – Marketing Recap”

The Party – Marketing Recap

the party posterJanet (Kristin Scott Thomas) wants to celebrate some encouraging professional news by throwing a party for family and friends in the new film from writer/director Sally Potter The Party. Joining her and her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) are friends like April (Patricia Clarkson), Martha (Cherry Jones), Jinny (Emily Mortimer) and Tom (Cillian Murphy).

With so many people brought together, even if it is for positive news, there’s bound to be drama of some sort and that very much happens here. Over the course of the evening various secrets are revealed and relationships upended. Futures are decided or ruined and oh there’s a gun that makes an appearance as tensions rise and people become more and more upset.

Continue reading “The Party – Marketing Recap”

Wonderstruck – Marketing Recap

Director Todd Haynes brings us this week’s new release Wonderstruck. Based on the book of the same name by Brian Selznick, the story is split into two parts that share a common core.

In 1977 Ben (Oakes Fegley) has been in an accident and is now deaf, all this coming shortly after his mother Elaine died. He’s set out to New York City to find the father he never knew. Meanwhile in 1927 Rose (newcomer Millicent Simmonds), who was born deaf, has run away from the father who keeps her hidden away in shame. She’s also going to New York, in this case to find the actress Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore), who she idolizes. Both stories are connected in unexpected ways that appear as the story continues.

The Posters

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” is the copy at the top of the first one-sheet. The rest of it is a photo from the inside of the natural history museum where much of the action and story seemingly take place, with a dinosaur skeleton on one side, a stuffed giraffe on the other rand a massive walk-in area filled with smaller items in the center. I know it’s bad, but I can’t help thinking this looks like a more serious-minded version of Night at the Museum.

A poster was given out at San Diego Comic-Con (with the same image made available online later on) that presents the story in coloring page form. So the main characters are seen walking down a New York City street, with animals from the museum arranged all around them.

Elements of that version were used in the theatrical poster, which had the two children walking down opposite sides of the street, showing the time period their story takes place in. Meanwhile, the animals and creatures hover in the background.

The Trailers

The teaser trailer starts off by showing us the scenes of the two children from the two eras we’re following and what sort of adventures they get up to in the museum where the story takes place. There’s some sort of connection that’s very mysterious and which is hinted at as we get various small character moments. It’s a good teaser that certainly sets up lots more to come.

We finally find out more about Ben in the first full trailer. It opens as he’s asking his mom about the father he never knew. He has an accident and can’t hear and that seems to send him down the path that winds up intersecting with Rose across the decades. Both are, in their own way, trying to solve mysteries that eventually lead them to the same museum.

There’s a great sense of childlike innocence that’s on display here. The kids never seem to be, at least not based on what’s seen here, in any real danger. It’s just about being where adults think you shouldn’t and having to make your way on your own. Looks great.

What was notable was that a captioned version of the trailer featuring an introduction by Simmonds was released at the same time, a nice touch that acknowledges the hearing impaired audience and recognition of the fact that Simmonds herself is deaf.

Online and Social

On the main page of the official website you’re greeted with full-screen video that;s pulled from the trailer. There’s a prompt to get tickets, a critic quote praising the movie and release dates all on that page.

If you open the menu in the upper left you can visit “Novel,” which has more information on the source book as well as “Videos,” which has both the trailers and a clip. That’s also where you’ll find links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

Back to the home page, there’s the option to switch between 1977 and 1927. Each one changes the footage that’s shown on the splash page as well as the information and photos that are available as you scroll down the page. That’s a nice way of continuing the split nature of the story to the web and set audience expectations.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

It doesn’t appear Amazon/Roadside did any TV advertising, but there was plenty online. Key art and clips were used in online ads and the trailer was used in promoted Twitter posts to drive interest and ticket sales.

Media and Publicity

The movie was one of a handful that had its premiere at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival. Just before that a first-look photo was released featuring Moore.

The first official marketing effort came just before the movie debuted at Cannes and took the form of an extended clip showing Ben and another boy chasing each other around a museum intercut with black-and-white scenes from the same museum, this time from years in the past and featuring Rose examining the exhibits. While at Cannes, Haynes and the rest of the cast spoke frequently about making the movie, the unique story structure and, Amazon’s support of cinema and filmmakers more. That screening resulted in plenty of positive buzz for the film.

Haynes also talked about how he intends this as a “Kids’ movie” and how he worked with the child actors that make up a good chunk of the film. Moore also talked about Simmonds in particular, praising her performance.

The movie’s profile was raised when it was announced as the “Centerpiece” selection of the New York Film Festival. EW shared a profile of Simmonds in its fall movie preview issue where Haynes also commented about the magnetic presence of the young actor and more.

While Moore was interviewed occasionally, including this joint piece with Simmonds where they talked about learning new languages and how that impacted filming, the majority of the press was actually done by Haynes. He talked about how he wanted to make an intelligent kids movie, not one that played to the lowest common denominator, how this fits in with his other work, what it was like to work with child actors so prominently and how critical the film’s score is to the story.

Overall

The campaign works hard to create and maintain that sense of childhood wonder we feel when we’re exploring and on our own, that magical sensation that feels the awe of being in the presence of something greater than ourselves but also the curiosity to explore it and learn more about it. Emotionally, that’s what the studios are going for and that’s reflected in the way the teaser trailer, in particular, is framed as well as how the movie is sold on the posters. We’re looking up at the world from a child’s point of view, which sometimes is too sure of itself to be more careful.

More concretely, the focus on both Simmonds as the breakout star and on Haynes shows where the studios have identified the strongest appeals to be. These tactics speak more to film fans than the general audience, who are meant to be pulled in with the emotional approach above. Film fans are going to be drawn in by the promise of a truly unique performance by a young actor and by the promise that this is another in a long line of outstanding films from the director, particularly in the wake of Carol a couple years ago.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Amidst reports that Amazon Studios was foregoing a physical home video release entirely (which…wow), I noticed there are a ton of ads for the movie plastered around IMDb, which Amazon owns. Those ads are sometimes, as in the screenshot example below, interrupting the flow of content on the site and take you directly to where you can stream it now on Amazon.

 

You Were Never Really Here – PICKING UP THE SPARE

A joint interview here with Joaquin Phoenix and Lynne Ramsay about the working relationship they developed and the story they were trying to tell in the movie.
Amazon Studios put out a short promo video acknowledging this was one of two movies starring Joaquin Phoenix-starring movies it was distributing this year.

Only Living Boy in New York City – Marketing Recap

Get ready for a healthy dose of white upper-class angst with The Only Living Boy In New York City. Directed by Marc Webb, the story follows Thomas Webb (Callum Turner), a young man who has graduated college but doesn’t know what he’s going to do with his life. Fortunately, he has wealthy parents (played by Pierce Brosnan and Cynthia Nixon), so is in a place where he can amble about a bit.

That ambling includes receiving advice from his neighbor W.F. (Jeff Bridges), an aging frustrated writer who Thomas befriends. Things get complicated not only because of the romantic pressure from Thomas’ girlfriend Mimi (Kersey Clemons) but also the discovery his father is having an affair with a woman named Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). Not just that, but Thomas eventually becomes involved with Johanna himself, causing further problems.

The Posters

The first poster is simple, establishing at least one of the movie’s relationships. We see Turner and Beckinsale kissing passionately while up against a white wall that looks like something you’d find in a high-end art gallery or other establishments. No copy fleshes out or further explains the story, just the cast list.

The Trailers

The first trailer opens up by immediately showing us we’re in the world of well-off, highly literate New York society. Thomas meets his new neighbor and we see he’s having issues with his girlfriend. A night out leads to him seeing his father out with another woman and he begins following her. That develops into a complicated flirtation between the two of them. Thomas is getting life advice from W.F., in some sort of relationship with Johanna, on the outs with his girlfriend Mimi and hiding what he knows from his father, all of which leads to lots of conflicted feelings and problems.

It looks like a decent story but it also certainly looks like yet another entry in the existential angst of the New York white upper class. It’s a Noah Baumbach movie as directed by Marc Webb. There’s nothing wrong with that but it also is ground that’s been well-trod over the years so it’s curious to see what, if any, new this one has to say.

Online and Social

The official website immediately plays the trailer in full-screen video, and “Video” is the second of the content sections in the menu at the top of the page. If you click over to “Home,” it has a version of the key art along with a prompt to save the release date to your calendar and links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles. The only other section on the site is a “Synopsis” that gives a decent overview of the story and the relationships between the various characters.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve been aware of or seen.

Media and Publicity

Beckinsale and Bridges have, at least to date, handled most of the publicity efforts, appearing on some of the late night talk shows to talk about the movie and do the usual joking around. There was also a feature on Webb where he talked about making the movie and the New York setting of the story.

Overall

Just as I thought the marketing of Fun Mom Dinner might be hurt by the recent influx of movies about women cutting loose, I think the marketing of The Only Living Boy In New York City will be hurt by it being the 748th movie in the last two years about wealthy white people suffering a lack of direction while still having the financial means to wander about drinking high-end scotch and pondering what it all means. I don’t think we can go more than three weeks without a story like this hitting theaters, meaning the marketing needs to present a clear differentiating value proposition to stand out from the crowd.

There’s no such hook in the campaign here. The studio seems to think the relationship between Thomas and his father’s mistress checks that box, but it’s not enough. There’s too much ground being covered here that’s not only familiar but which is out of touch with the reality of the country at this point, where the wealthy 1% are still not beloved by most people. These aren’t characters we can relate to and the story isn’t outlandish enough to be seen as soap opera-like. We’ve pretty much seen this movie before and the campaign doesn’t offer anything unique or innovative enough to stand out from the crowd.