The Old Man and the Gun – Marketing Recap

old man and the gun posterRobert Redford is one of the most charismatic, charming and talented actors to ever grace the silver screen. With 78 acting credits to his name since 1960, he reteams with director David Lowery for the second time in this week’s The Old Man and The Gun.

In the movie Redford stars as Forrest Tucker, a man who’s enjoyed a long career as a generally non-violent, gentlemanly robber of banks. He’s still having fun with his chosen vocation, but feels time running out on him. One day he meets Jewel (Sissy Spacek), a widow whose path he crosses while on the run from the authorities. The two develop a romance as Forrest eludes the police on his tail, led by Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck).

The Posters

Tucker’s face is obscured as he places a fedora on his head on the poster. It’s a simple poster, just showing him walking along carrying a case (presumably of money) and looking dapper. An old-fashioned typeface is used for the title treatment and other copy, including the tagline that qualifies the movie, admitting to the audience that “This story is mostly true.”

The Trailers

Redford breezes through the first trailer (and likely the entire movie) as we meet Tucker and see how while he may be a bank robber he’s exceedingly polite about it, always leaving his victims with a positive sense of the experience. The trailer is structured primarily around Tucker meeting Jewel and the two of them starting up a late-in-life romance, her eventually accepting what he does for kicks. There’s also the search for him by police, but that almost seems secondary.

We don’t deserve Robert Redford. I mean…it’s not even fair.

The second trailer hits many of the same story points in showing how Tucker so nonchalantly robs banks for the thrill, not necessarily for the money. Different here is the focus on the other members of his crew, while the relationship with Jewel is relegated to just a couple scenes showing their cautious flirtation and romance. It’s got the same vibe, though.

Online and Social

Fox Searchlight’s official website for the movie has some basic information like the trailer, a story synopsis, cast and filmmaker profiles and details on release dates. There were also Facebook and Twitter profiles where the studio shared updates on the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Media and Publicity

The first still from the movie was accompanied by news of it finally getting a release date. Later on Redford made comments about how this was going to be his final acting job. He confirmed that decision closer to release, saying the time had simply come for him to “escape” from the lifestyle and work.

The movie was announced as one of those screening at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as the London Film Festival. It also scored the prestigious opening slot at the Telluride Film Festival.

Redford shared how and why he says “yes” to a movie and why he said “yes” to this one while Lowery talks about how he worked to get that answer from the actor.

There was also coverage of how the movie started out its life as a 1999 feature in The New Yorker that profiled the real Forrest Tucker and his exploits. That history meant it was one of the movies produced by Conde Nast Entertainment, a division of the publishing company that’s had trouble taking off since its inception about five years ago but which was hoping this year would bring a turnaround.

Redford and Spacek, either on their own or together, appeared on “CBS Sunday Morning,” “PBS Newshour,” and “The Today Show” among other shows.” Costar Danny Glover, who plays a member of Tucker’s crew, was also interviewed about working with Redford.

Redford later expressed regret for bringing the focus of the publicity for the movie and his reported retirement, saying he shouldn’t have drawn attention away like that. It wasn’t the walk-back some sites framed it as, just him saying he should have kept his mouth shut in the moment.

Overall

Redford’s easy, confident charm has brought him through a career that’s lasted over 50 years. The campaign here shows that persona is just as strong now as it was when he broke out as a major star in the late 60s, when he was a king of 70s cinema, when he was the romantic elder statesman in the 80s and the commanding veteran of the 00s and 10s.

Mostly what’s shown is the story is a great vehicle for Redford to be everything he can be. It’s a silly kind of story that could be played for laughs in the wrong hands, but the marketing shows the actor and his costars, under Lowery’s direction, play it straight, pulling the drama out while still allowing the sly wink and smile the lead is best known for.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

I missed this story the first time around, but Sissy Spacek shares a charming anecdote about meeting Robert Redford that’s 100% relatable.

Director David Lowery says shooting the movie in Texas really helped capture the authenticity father story, even if most of it was shot in Ohio as a stand-in for Texas. He and the cast appeared in a featurette where they all talked about the story and characters. Another interview had him talking more at length about working with Redford for the second time, as did this one.

More from Spacek here and here, the latter coming to my attention thanks to an email blast from Conde Nast, the media company that helped produce the film.

Additional TV spots like this have been released to keep up audience interest. And a new featurette focuses on how the movie reunited Redford with his longtime stunt double.

Lowery shares some expanded thoughts on the role guns play not just in the story but in the world along with more comments about working with Redford again and more.

Our Souls At Night – Marketing Recap

Two of Hollywood’s most iconic, most charismatic and most talented stars reteam for the first time in almost 40 years in Our Souls at Night. In the movie, Jane Fonda plays Addie, a widow who one day knocks on the door or Louis (Robert Redford), a man she’s been neighbors with for decades but never really gotten to know. He’s a widower and she’s decided that, with both of them alone and in their sunset years, maybe it would be good to spend some time together.

What she’s proposing isn’t necessarily romantic in nature. It’s more about companionship, someone to talk to and fill an empty house. Louis agrees to the idea and the two form a friendship that, despite its original intent, becomes something more.

The Posters

The movie’s poster uses its primary asset as the key selling point, namely the pairing of its two stars. Fonda’s head rests on Redford’s shoulder in a pose of obvious emotional intimacy. The hazy filter applied to the photo gives it a slightly gauzy look that brings to mind the one-sheets for movies based on Nicholas Sparks books, but let’s overlook that for the moment. The credentials of both actors, as well as the movie’s appearance at the Venice Film Festival, are at the top.

The Trailers

The first teaser doesn’t have a lot, just a single shot of Addie and Louis driving along a barren highway in an old truck, Addie gradually moving over to be closer to Louis. It’s not much but it’s enough to promise the repairing of these great actors, which is actually quite a lot.

The full trailer starts as Addi knocks on Louis’ door She wants to get to know him better after years and years of the two living near each other. They’re both alone and want to avoid the appearance of a scandal, just some companionship through the last years of life. They develop a friendship and spend more and more time together, with that friendship eventually evolving into something more.

Dang…the chemistry between Fonda and Redford is practically a character of its own here. They both bring their usual world-class chops and abilities, shown here in subdued, understated performances, to the role. I’m completely on board, though that has been the case for quite a while now.

Online and Social

Nope. Netflix gave the movie limited promotion on its brand social channels but didn’t set up separate websites or social profiles to promote it.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

No paid advertising that I’m aware of.

Media and Publicity

The first real look at the movie, along with a brief interview with Fonda about the story and her on- and off-screen relationship with Redford, came in EW’s 2017 preview. Fonda kept talking about the movie and her long-lived career working with Redford, usually while promoting other projects.

It was announced the movie would screen at this year’s Venice Film Festival, which also hosted an event celebrating both Fonda and Redford. Both Fonda and Redford talked here about reuniting, the changed dynamic between the two of them after so many years and more. That would be a constant theme throughout the publicity in various other interviews with the pair of leads.

(Side note: It’s not part of the movie’s publicity or anything, but if you haven’t been listening to Karina Longworth’s latest podcast series on the political activism and film career of Jane Fonda, you’re doing the internet wrong.)

Overall

I would have loved to see even more attention and press turned to the movie, of course. But that’s because I’m a huge fan of Redford and Fonda and have loved their previous collaborations. While current, younger actors are often great, there’s nothing quite like the older generation that brings with it the ease and charisma of the old days of Hollywood.

That charisma and charm are on central display in this limited but effective campaign from Netflix. The reteaming of Fonda and Redford is enough of a draw in and of itself and the company knows it. There’s just enough story shown to let the audience know what to expect and there are sure to be twists on that, but the focus is on two stars whose chemistry hasn’t diminished a bit over the decades.

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