Richard Jewell – Marketing Recap

How Warner Bros. is selling the latest story of an aggrieved white man from director Clint Eastwood.

richard jewell posterThere’s no question that there was nearly an injustice perpetrated on Richard Jewell, the security guard who found an explosive at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and helped save countless lives. Now his story is coming to the big screen in the appropriately titled Richard Jewell.

Paul Walter Hauser plays the title character, a well-meaning but slightly schlubby individual who suddenly is vaulted into the national spotlight. By virtue of his finding the device, he also unexpectedly finds himself at the top of the suspect list being put together by law enforcement, including the FBI. So too, the press – embodied by Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) latches on to him as a likely suspect, someone to hang the narrative of the bombing on.

While the movie, which costars Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Jon Hamm and others, fits into Eastwood’s thematic motif of making sure white men are recognized as the under-appreciated heroes they naturally are, it also has come under fire for how it goes about communicating that message. Despite that, it’s being sold by Warner Bros. as an awards season drama based on a moment from recent history.

Tracking estimates have the movie opening around $10 million this weekend, which would put it far off the pace in terms of winning the frame, but the 87 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes shows it could be helped by largely positive reviews.

The Posters

“The world will know his name and the truth” is the awkwardly structured tagline that appears below the title on the poster (by marketing agency Legion Creative Group) from October. As the main image, Jewell is shown fighting his way through a crowd of eager reporters and others, trying to keep his face down as his mother (Kathy Bates) appears despondent over the whole thing. At the bottom we’re reminded this is based on a true story.

The Trailers

Released in early October, the first trailer (9.1 million views on YouTube) starts off with Jewell dealing with the aftermath of finding the bomb. The authorities consider him a suspect, mostly because he’s the one who did actually find it. So investigators and journalists focus almost solely on him, but he and his lawyer continue to push back against what they see as a conspiracy to hang the crime on him without actual evidence. The story being presented, then, is of an innocent man being railroaded by a lazy and likely corrupt system.

Online and Social

The official website for the movie opens with the trailer and is replaced by the key art when you close that. The content is pretty standard and boring, though.

Advertising and Publicity

Eastwood had originally set the project up at Fox, but following that studio’s acquisition by Disney it was moved over to his long-time home Warner Bros. The studio finally gave it a release date in September.

A few weeks later it was announced the film would debut at AFI Fest. That screening generated generally positive reviews but also altered critics to the fact that Eastwood and the writers created a fictional scene of Scruggs having sex with an FBI official in order to get information, something that seems offensive and unnecessary, especially in a movie about media manipulation.

Online ads featured a cropped version of the key art and linked to the movie’s official site.

richard jewell online ad.png

The first – and to date only – clip released has Richard’s mother Barbara at a press conference proclaiming her son’s innocence while expressing sympathy for the victims of the bombing.

An exclusive featurette hosted by MovieClips featured Eastwood and others talking about making the movie, beginning with the article the story is based on. Another featurette titled “An American Tragedy” dove into the story a bit more while focusing on the injustice done to Jewell, though that may be overstated by just a bit.

Media and Press

Perhaps it’s because of the condensed timeline that resulted from Warner Bros. only giving it a release date a few months ago. Or perhaps the lack of substantial pre-release press activity is because the media narrative has been dominated by discussions of the filmmakers creating Scruggs’ trading sex for information.

Wilde defended her portrayal of Scruggs, saying the idea of a sexual transaction was merely “inferred” in the film and that there’s no evidence to suggest she did so. Still, even that inference is enough to be harmful when added to other movies that have made similar suggestions or stated it outright, even if there’s no basis for doing so.

Just days ago, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – where Scruggs worked – issued a statement asking WB to add a disclaimer making it clear that is a fictional element of the story. The editors and others at the paper made the point that not only is it disrespectful toward Scruggs, who passed away at a young age, but it also shows a lack of interest in how journalists of any gender do their jobs.

In response, the studio’s statement says the newspaper is simply trying to distract people from how the movie shows it got the initial story wrong. That doesn’t address the core issue the AJC raised and so reads more like a company more interested in defending its director than setting the record straight.

Rockwell’s appearance on “Kimmel” was one of the few press stops by the cast.


There have been a number of good writeups of the controversy surrounding the portrayal of Scruggs on screen from both media commentators and film columnists. They should be sought out and read for a fuller understanding than I can provide here on what such an unnecessary addition does to the reputation of not only the real person portrayed on screen but also women journalists as a whole.

What keeps sticking in my mind is why telling this story was deemed to be essential or important. Yes, Jewell was unfairly maligned in the press before all the facts came out, at which point he was cleared of suspicion. That doesn’t undo the damage done, but it does come as the result of organizations like the press and law enforcement diligently doing their jobs. And he went on to lead a relatively normal life after doing no time in jail.

Compare that to the countless people currently imprisoned for minor drug offenses, or there only because they took a plea deal upon realizing they couldn’t afford to mount a defense against charges they had no connection to. It’s just that kind of story told in Ava DuVerney’s recent Netflix miniseries “When They See Us” about the Central Park Five, some of whom were in jail for decades for crimes they were not involved in.

The campaign never really answers the question of why the movie is here or what it’s essential elements are. Instead, in the lack of any other compelling messages, the idea seems to be that any time a white male is falsely accused it’s worthy of being called out in a feature film. Eastwood and the writers seem to simply want to vilify the very organizations that keep us safe and informed simply because they sometimes get it wrong, but by focusing on such a minor example of that injustice it makes their point hard to swallow.

Picking Up the Spare

Hamm appeared on “The Tonight Show” to promote the film but wound up talking about other things for the most part. Hauser appeared on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie just before release.

JoJo Rabbit – Marketing Recap

Director Taika Waititi returns with a satire set in the past that’s still very much about the present.

jojo rabbit poster 2Waititi takes a break from interstellar super hero adventures to bring audiences another biting comedy. JoJo Rabbit is set in World War II Germany, home of young JoJo (Roman Griffin Davis) and his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson). JoJo is a member of the Hitler Youth, but his heart isn’t really in it and his sensitive nature leads to him being picked on by the other boys.

To compensate for that, JoJo creates an imaginary friend, one that gives him advice and helps him deal with all the emotions he’s feeling. It just so happens that imaginary friend is a version of Hitler himself (Waititi). Things get even more complicated for him when he discovers his mother has been hiding a young Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home.

Fox Searchlight has given the movie, which is admittedly unconventional in its story and subject matter, one of the more memorable and entertaining campaigns of the year, one that’s true to Waititi’s brand. The movie is only opening in select theaters this week.

The Posters

jojo rabbit posterThe movie’s irreverent attitude is on display on the first poster, released in late July. The title is presented in big letters within a massive hand making what could be bunny ears, a peace sign, or both. The impressive cast list’s names are dropped in the blank space outside of that hand.

In August the second poster came out. This one arranges photos of the primary characters around JoJo, Hitler in the background giving the young boy rabbit ears to convey some sense of humor and have some fun with the title.

The Trailers

The first teaser trailer (2.3 million views on YouTube) was released in late July, at the same time it was announced the movie would screen at Toronto. It doesn’t offer many hints to the story, but does include plenty of scenes showing Waititi’s absurdist take on World War II Germany. At the very end we see the director himself as Hitler trying to raise the spirits of young JoJo, who’s being picked on by his classmates.

September brought the second trailer (10.8 million views on YouTube), released just as the film was enjoying its festival screenings. It’s wonderfully delightful in how it shows JoJo to be a product of his time, albeit an apparently reluctant one. He’s shown as being conflicted about his involvement in various Hitler Youth activities, even as he has his imaginary friend there helping him along. When he discovers his mother has been hiding Elsa in the attic of their house things get even more complicated as he has a face to put to all the propaganda, one that doesn’t seem threatening or dangerous.

There are two moments worth calling out in particular:

First, Elsa repudiation of JoJo – “You’re not a Nazi, JoJo. You’re a 10 year old kid who likes dressing up in a uniform and wants to be part of a club.” – seems like a direct comment on the kind of militia cosplayers frequently seen in today’s world on the outskirts of social protests and other events. These men aren’t actually part of the military but enjoy putting on similar uniforms and sporting similar weaponry, finding common cause in intimidating the women and people of color they feel threatened by.

Two, Hitler’s backwards leg kick as he walks away from JoJo toward the end of the trailer would appear to be Waititi providing a subtle physical reference to a previous comedic incarnation of the dictator. Namely, it’s very similar to how Charlie Chaplin kicks the globe around the room during a key sequence of The Great Dictator. The movement is so clear and similar it can’t help but be inspired by The Little Tramp.

Online and Social

In addition to the trailers and other marketing assets, the official website from Fox Searchlight has a “Message from Taika” where he shares what his goals in making this movie at this time are and why he chose to undertake this kind of project. It’s a wonderful message that speaks clearly to the idea of children being raised to hate and what the effects of that kind of indoctrination are.

Advertising and Publicity

It was announced in late July that the movie would premiere at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, a major platform for the film and one where Waititi was given the Roger Ebert Directing Award. It was also slated to open Fantastic Fest in September and for the London Film Festival as well as the Hamptons Film Festival.

Waititi and Searchlight revived a decade old meme – one that predates the days when social media platforms lets users add GIFs as a shorthand for their feelings – with the release of a reaction video using footage from the film Downfall with new, inaccurate subtitles. In this case, Hitler is shown in his bunker reacting poorly as his generals and others informed him about the movie and Waititi’s involvement. It’s brilliant.

Reactions that came out of the Toronto screening were mostly positive, though a bit mixed as people grappled with how exactly the movie handles its Nazi material. It did win the Audience Award at the festival, though.

It was then scheduled to be the opening night feature at Film Fest 919 in October.

A sweet moment between JoJo and his mother was shown in the first clip released at the beginning of October. The next clip has Rosie confronting a Nazi officer (played by Sam Rockwell) about the mistreatment JoJo has received. One more shows JoJo and Imaginary Hitler having a pleasant and inspiring conversation.

Online ads used a mix of straightforward key art and over-the-top “chumbox” ads that took the provocative nature of the movie’s story and amped it up even further as a way to defuse controversy by poking fun at itself. Preroll video ads were placed on YouTube and other social networks that used cut down versions of the trailer.

Media and Press

As production got underway, Waititi talked about how it was going to piss off a lot of Nazis (always a good thing) and shared a first look at himself in Hitler garb to get people talking. The movie was also part of the CineEurope presentation from the studio. Waititi talked more about his unusual role during a masterclass he held during the Toronto Film Festival and then offered a brief update while promoting the “What We Do In the Shadows” TV show earlier this year.

An interview with Waititi included his comments on the movie’s story and tone.

Reports came to light in early August that Disney executives were becoming increasingly concerned about the movie, specifically that a satirical film about Hitler as a young boy’s imaginary friend was too controversial for the studio’s fans. That seems to assume that group is a single entity with a sole opinion based on movies like Cinderella and Toy Story, not to mention The Avengers and Star Wars. It’s also telling that a movie whose target is Hitler has people within the studio nervous.

During Venice there was another interview with Waititi where he explained how and why he tried to tell a story set in Nazi Germany with a comedic tone and how he approached playing a “benign” Hitler that existed in the mind of a 10 year old boy. He hit similar points when he was interviewed during the Toronto Film Festival.

jojo rabbit pic

A massive profile of Johansson included mention of the many high-profile films she has in the works and on the release schedule, but it was her comments about Woody Allen that generated the most headlines.

An interview with producer Chelsea Winstanley allowed her to talk about the role of comedy in analyzing social issues and what kinds of movies she has coming in the near future. Similar ground was covered in a joint interview with Waititi and much of the cast while Johansson spoke about how she approached her role here. Her emphasis on motherhood was reiterated by the director, who said he made the movie in part as a tribute to single moms.


If you want a single element that sums up the tone of the campaign it has to be the resurrection of the Downfall meme. One of the odd things about that meme, which was popular online in the days before Twitter in particular offered native GIF support, was always based on the shared assumption that it was kind of alright to use something explicitly Nazi-related to share some other message. We were finding humor by coopting Nazi imagery, removing some of the power that imagery has.

That’s more or less what Waititi is doing here. He’s using a very specific era – one that was filled with hate and violence – to send a message that hatred and violence are weak and powerless in the face of love and compassion. Using satire to do so only makes that message all the more cutting and compelling.

Waititi has made nothing but wholly original films. Even Thor: Ragnarok is on that list, with a tone and style that was drastically different from other super hero spectacles. They’ve all been about outsiders who are desperate to be understood, and this movie is no different, it’s just using slightly more controversial subject matter for fodder, but that makes the message all the more powerful.

Picking Up the Spare

There were lots of interviews with Waititi that touched on themes he expressed at the premiere, including how comedy can be used as a means fighting hate and how we should be past having to point out that Nazis are bad.

Waititi appeared on “Kimmel” and “The Daily Show” while Johansson stopped by “The Tonight Show.”

More clips as well as a making of featurettte have been released since the movie hit theaters, along with another video that focused on the ensemble cast assembled. Waititi reflected on applying his unique perspective to the subject matter in a featurette released in early November.

The movie’s production team talked about getting the look of the era right as well as how it would have appeared to a young boy. McKenzie also finally got a profile of her own.

An important point from this interview with Waititi, that he’s not in the business of conveying historical facts but getting to the truth of a moment.

There as a profile in November of Davis, the boy who plays JoJo, that included his thoughts on what message the movie is trying to send.

Best of Enemies – Marketing Recap

best of enemies poster 2Best of Enemies comes out this week in the unfortunate position of following last year’s Green Book. Both feature pairings of white and black characters, the former needing to learn something from the latter amidst the largest Civil Rights Movement. Green Book was a financial success but came under significant criticism for presenting a too-simplistic portrait of the era and going too far in making the white person the hero of the story.

This week’s new release stars Taraji P. Henson as Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist in Durham, NC who goes head to head with Ku Klux Klan leader C. P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell) over school desegregation. The two are obviously on opposite sides of the issue, but over a decade of conflict the two form a grudging respect for each other.

The Posters

best of enemies poster“Change is worth fighting for” we’re told on the first poster, which shows the two main characters standing next to each other. It’s simple, selling the movie on the basis of the stars. The same copy is used on the second poster, but this time the characters are placed more at odds with each other, facing different directions and with more of a contrast in the lighting they’re given.

The Trailers

The story’s setting in 1971 Durham, NC is established at the outset of the first trailer, which opens with an elementary school burning because of an electrical fire. The need to find those kids somewhere to go to school opens up the issue of segregation in the area, as local white folks don’t want black kids mixing with their kids. Atwater and Ellis stand on opposite sides of the debate but are put together on a board to discuss options. The violence and anger on both sides is clear, but some of the extents the segregationists are willing to go to upsets even Ellis, who has begun to view Atwater as a human being.

Online and Social

There’s almost nothing on the movie’s official website, just the trailer, a synopsis and links to social profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A 30-second online ad featured not only clips from the movie but also Henson talking about her character and the story as a whole. The impact segregated schooling has on children and the reason the two leads are facing off against each other were communicated in a TV spot.

Media and Publicity

STX finally gave the movie an early 2019 release date late last year.

A featurette released in early March had the cast as well as the real people they portray in the movie talking about the events depicted and what the dynamic between the two main characters was and is. Another came out a few days later specifically to mark International Women’s Day, focusing on the real life women who inspired the story.

Atwater and Ellis square off with guns and Bibles in a clip released last week.

Rockwell showed up on “The Tonight Show” to talk about working with Henson and the movie in general. While it was mostly about other upcoming projects, this movie was mentioned in a profile of the actor. There was also attention given to Henson, who used this cycle to open up about the anxiety and depression she deals with. Most of the press about the actress, though, focused on her reaction to what’s happening with her “Empire” costar Jussie Smollett or was focused on her series “The Last OG” with Tracy Morgan.


What a missed opportunity to really educate the audience about an important historical moment. While the featurettes and some of the other clips and ads feature background on Atwater’s struggle to overcome systemic racism, there’s no background on the real events that inspired the movie on the website, not even a link elsewhere.

You can’t go wrong with Henson in a drama like this, but the way things are presented raises the concern that once again we’re getting a movie that wants to humanize the racists and sell the idea that just talking to them is the key to everyone getting along. That’s all well and good and certainly non-violence is preferable, but given the current social atmosphere presenting a decade of dialogue as the best possible outcome to hatred, we’re not in great shape.

Picking Up the Spare

A new spot debuted that was made specifically for the podcast “Pod Save America.”

The movie’s filmmakers spoke about wanting to remain true to the real story, but it has come under a lot of criticism for what are seen as efforts to rehabilitate a racist Klan leader, which is problematic.

Henson showed up on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie, with Rockwell doing so on “Late Night” a bit later.

Vice – Marketing Recap

vice posterOne of the most divisive and controversial personalities in modern American politics gets the satirical treatment in Vice, the new movie from writer/director Adam McKay. The film reunites McKay with star Christian Bale, who this time disappears beneath the weight he put on to play former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The story follows Cheney as he’s tapped by Presidential candidate George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) to bring the years of experience he’s accumulated as Secretary of Defense as well as a major business owner to help the relatively green Bush govern. But Cheney has other ideas, seeing the weak President as a chance to fully get his hands on the levers of power without having a fraction of scrutiny the higher office would bring.

The Posters

A silhouette of Bale as Cheney is featured on the poster making this seem like an artistic magazine cover. The cast names are featured above the title while McKay’s credits are shared at the very top. It’s a nice bit of pop art helping sell the attitude and approach of the movie.

The Trailers

Bush is recruiting Cheney to be his VP as the trailer opens, though Cheney is somewhat reluctant to take on what’s mostly a “symbolic” position. So he proposes an alternative arrangement where he takes on the management of most everything that’s vital to the presidency, with Bush being left as mostly a figurehead. The montage that follows shows just how extensive Cheney’s role became and how that impacted the country and the world.

The performances by Bale, Rockwell, Carell and others are a highlight here, but what’s also on display is the visual style of the movie, which seems just as fast and tight as what McKay brought to The Big Short. That’s the real sales pitch here, a fast-paced trip behind the curtains of power.

Online and Social

There’s only the usual batch of information and content on the movie’s official website, not much else.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV advertising began in mid-October with a spot showing the same kind of manic energy as the trailer, including Cheney bargaining for the kind of power a VP doesn’t usually enjoy. The movie’s SAG Awards were touted in a promoted Tweet.

Media and Publicity

Some of the first publicity for the movie came during the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. While there promoting Hostiles, Bale was obviously much doughier than he usually is, a change that was often commented on and which he said was part of his preparing for the role.

About a year later not much had happened on the publicity or marketing front, but McKay finally confirmed the movie’s title on Twitter.

A while after the trailer was released McKay started doing interviews, including one where he said Cheney is more dangerous than Trump because he’s smarter and more calculating.

He reiterated those comments in a substantial THR cover story on the movie that had the director talking about the process behind making the movie, Bale gaining the weight for the role and lots more.

An interview with McKay featured him revealing he had a heart attack on set that Bale helped him, thanks in part to the research the actor had done on symptoms and treatment. McKay was also the subject of a feature profile that allowed him to talk about his recent shift into more dramatic – albeit stylized – films, what kind of research he did while preparing for the film and more.

In early December it was announced the movie would open the Capri, Hollywood Film Festival. Shortly after that a first look at Tyler Perry as Colin Powell was released, garnering the same kind of bewildered reactions that greeted pics of Bale as Cheney much earlier.

Adams appeared on “Kimmel” and then on “Late Night” to talk about this and other recent projects of hers. Bale and Rockwell appeared together on a Variety podcast to talk about weight gains, how to not do bad impressions and more.

The movie’s red carpet premiere allowed the cast and McKay to talk about various things, including how a musical number was cut.

Bale’s transformation into Cheney was the subject of man stories, including a feature profile on the actor’s process. How he and McKay went about working to craft the story and how that story fits into the context of today’s political environment was covered in a number of joint interviews with the pair.


The campaign works hard to capture the same tone as The Big Short to try and get the same sort of critical and commercial success that movie saw. So it keeps going for clever and hip in the tone and presentation of the movie to help establish it as the emotional sequel to that earlier effort from McKay.

It never quite reaches that level, mostly because it’s working so hard to do so. That doesn’t mean the campaign doesn’t make the movie look interesting and intriguing. There’s been a lot of talk about how it might be an attempt to “humanize” Cheney, someone who not only engaged in bad behavior of his own but also poisoned the well of American society. That’s not the reading I get from the marketing, though, as it seems to be selling someone it knows is a terrible person and wants to make that point to the audience.

Picking Up the Spare

Carell was interviewed about how he approached the role of one of the most reviled political figures in modern American history.

Bale, Adams and others spoke about creating the movie’s unique visual style and format. McKay also revealed how a surprise cameo came about and why he decided to tell Cheney’s story.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – Marketing Recap

Strong performances anchor the campaign for a story of a mother’s grief.

three billboards poster 2Director Martin McDonagh steps outside of the world of comic violence he’s well known for to bring us this week’s new release Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This time around Frances McDormand stars in a story that involves a mother’s righteous anger, allegations of police indifference and the lengths that mother will go to in order to solve a problem the authorities won’t.

McDormand plays Mildred, whose daughter was killed months ago but whose murder has remained unsolved. Frustrated by inaction, Mildred decides to call out the police in a very public way, by broadcasting their inability to arrest the killer on a serious of billboards on the edge of town. That, along with her other brash behavior, brings her into conflict with the police force, including Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Dixon (Sam Rockwell), who don’t take kindly to being called lazy or worse.

The Posters

three billboards poster 1We see the backs of the three titular billboards at the very bottom of the first poster, a police cruiser driving past on the rural highway they’re placed along. The rest of the image, though, is of the beautiful big skyline of Missouri at dusk, the dark clouds dominating the sky as the sun sets in the distance. Aside from the cast list and title, the other element on the poster is the name-dropping of a couple of McDonagh’s other well-loved movies.

The theatrical poster featured the same dark, barren landscape photo as the first, but with photos of the three primary cast members included on the side each appearing in a cut out of the state of Missouri.

The Trailers

As the first trailer starts we meet Mildred Hayes as she’s fixing to buy some billboard ads. The reason, we find out, is that she wants to keep the pressure on the local sheriff who has yet to find the person who killed her daughter. Mildred has little patience for anyone who gets in her way which, combined with no discernible social skills, means she cuts a swath through the town’s populace, most of whom have turned against her in some manner. The sheriff isn’t thrilled at someone besmirching his name in this manner. Her actions become increasingly outrageous, though, including an attack on a dentist and setting a building on fire.

It’s all played with a slightly comic tone, helped largely by McDormand’s performance. She’s such a foul-mouthed delight in this trailer that it immediately shot to the top of the list of movies I want to see. While the subject matter is rough – anytime you’re dealing with dead kids it’s not shallow waters we’re in – the take looks darkly funny.

Another short trailer was focused more on the struggle Mildred is going through in the wake of her daughter’s death than on the actions she takes as the result of justice not being served. There’s some of that here, but it’s mostly about the quieter aspects of the story and the torment she still feels.

Online and Social

You can watch the trailer again when the official website loads and you should absolutely do so.

After that end, the site is exactly what you’d expect from Fox Searchlight. The “Cast” section has comments by or about each of the leads, including the three mentioned earlier as well as John Hawkes and Peter Dinklage. Same with “Filmmakers” for McDonagh. “Story” has a brief synopsis and “Videos” has the two trailers.

Persistent on the site in the lower left are prompts to get tickets or watch the trailer again along with links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV commercials like this one recapped the basic points of the plot, showing how Mildred is taking matters into her own hands to express her displeasure at the failure of the police to find her daughter’s killer. They play up the dark comedy of the story and show off the performances, which are two major selling points. Some were more overtly violent than others, but they all made the same overall appeal.

Media and Publicity

The movie was announced as one of those that would screen at the Toronto International Film Festival. It also was slated for the Venice Film Festival and Fantastic Fest.

Around the time of Venice and Telluride McDormand was interviewed about her tendency to take on quirky characters, her love of the character and her propensity for colorful dialogue.

While McDormand was hailed as wonderful as usual, Rockwell’s performance became a constant theme of the buzz that came out of the festival screenings, hailed as a highlight in a career full of notable performances. It was such a hit it won the Audience Award there.

Rockwell talked here about how he got involved, how he viewed the character and more. Another piece shortly after that continued calling out the actor’s performance, pegging it as worthy of awards consideration. McDormand also got the same level of ongoing attention for her turn as the wronged mother.


While the movie hasn’t gotten nearly the level of advertising or publicity as some other releases, it seems more vital as a cultural statement than much of what’s hit theaters recently. With a story that, based on what’s shown on the campaign, deals with a woman breaking the expectations of society while drawing attention to police indifference toward the poor, it’s very much in the “pulled from the headlines” mold. Watch the trailers or read some of the press coverage and you’ll see it’s extremely current in what’s being said and the message it’s presented to the audience.

That’s all very important, but on the other hand this is simply being sold as a darkly comic drama featuring outstanding performances from always reliable and supremely talented actors. Putting McDormand and Rockwell together in a film doesn’t seem fair, though neither was pairing her with William H. Macy 20+ years ago. The cultural message is being sent to some while the simple appeal of the actors and a compelling story is being sent to others.


You can watch the first 10 minutes of the movie online (legally) now.


The movie’s conceit of using three billboards to convey a message has been adopted by various social issues and coincided with an overall growth in the out-of-home ad market. A trade group gave the filmmakers a shoutout for all that with a billboard of its own.


Co-star Sam Rockwell, who continues to win both awards and praise for his performance, is hosting “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.
It’s not exactly about the movie but Nancy Fletcher at The Drum uses the titular outdoor ad units and how they’re portrayed in the film to talk about the out-of-home advertising industry as a whole.