Pain and Glory – Marketing Recap

Two longtime collaborators reunite for a story of grappling with the repercussions of the choices made in service of art.

pain and glory posterThe story being told in Pain & Glory, the new film from writer/director Pedro Almodóvar, is that of the aging artist taking stock of his life and grappling with his legacy. Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a thinly-veiled stand in for Almodóvar himself.

Through a series of circumstances Mallo is prompted to consider what his life has amounted to, revisiting moments from his past that have brought him great pleasure, love and beauty. How all of that has influenced his art and life are all brought into focus in sometimes wonderful and sometimes painful ways.

With a 96 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has been a hit with critics. Sony Classics’ campaign seeks to bring that buzz to the general audience.

The Posters

How the individual pictures of various settings and characters are scattered around the title treatment on the poster is actually quite perfect given the subject matter. These are literally fragments of people and memories going through Mallo’s mind. It’s unclear if this is the idea the designers were going for since it’s also similar to any number of independent dramas that marketing teams have struggled to find a theme or brand for, but it works on that level.

The Trailers

The first trailer (82,000 views on YouTube) was finally released in early August. We’re shown a portrait of a filmmaker who is struggling to find his footing in the present at the same time he’s trying to reconcile that present with the past. There are hints of storylines involving the price of notoriety, parental rebuke and much more, all accompanied by Almodóvar’s gentle but striking visuals.

Online and Social

Sony Classics’ website for the film is a throwback to the kind of fully-featured sites that used to be commonplace. Not only is there the trailer, a gallery and other marketing materials but there’s an in-depth exploration of the film, its story and full cast/crew bios, but there’s also a wonderful “About” section that explores the themes Almodóvar has covered and where this movie fits into his filmography as a whole.

Advertising and Promotions

Almodóvar and Banderas brought the movie to the Cannes Film Festival, speaking about the story and the future of film as a whole while there. Its appearance there generated a good amount of positive chatter and set off some Oscar buzz for the cast and crew. It was later announced among the films screening at the Toronto Film Festival, which included a conversation with Banderas.

The first clip, released in early September, shows Mallo having an uncomfortable (for him) conversation with an ex-lover about their current situations.

It was announced at about that same time the movie would act as Spain’s official entry for this year’s Academy Awards.

A screening at the New York Film Festival included a conversation with Almodóvar.

Media and Press

Banderas was interviewed while there about working with his friend Almodóvar, a situation with the potential to get very tricky given his character is a vague version of the director himself.

That same scene released in September was one, according to Banderas, that was too emotional for the director to be on set for. The actor also reminisced about his long history of working with Almodóvar and the sometimes controversial and unpopular choices he’s made in his career. He also talked about how his own recent health issues were mined by the director to reinforce where the character he plays is at and what he’s dealing with.


The movie is, objectively, a bit niche for mainstream audiences. The critics and cinephiles who have seen it at festivals or who will seek it out in its limited engagements are the perfect target group for the film given its subject matter and pedigree.

That the campaign doesn’t shy away from any of the themes or details of the story is to Sony Classics’ credit and a sign the studio understands who is going to be interested in seeing it. There’s no other way to position a movie that reunites Almodóvar and Banderas in yet another deeply personal project, so the marketing works in being, based on what’s seen here, true to what it’s selling.

Picking Up the Spare

Almodóvar continued to speak about how personal the movie’s story is and why he decided to make it, despite the worry his friends had about it.

The director and star were both interviewed about the process of making the film and how long it took to get things started. Almodovar got another solo interview as well.

The Happy Prince – Marketing Recap

the happy prince posterIt makes a massive amount of sense that Rupert Everett is finally playing famed writer Oscar Wilde in the new movie The Happy Prince. In one of his first roles after breaking into mainstream stardom in the late 90s Everett starred in An Ideal Husband, a role that showed how suited his style and charisma were to Wilde’s words.

This new movie is no comedy of manners, though. Named after a Wilde short story of heartbreak and sadness, The Happy Prince – which Everett also wrote and directed – follows Wilde as he faces death and reflects back on his life and all it’s encompassed. That includes his marriage to Constance (Emily Watson) as well as his conviction for immoral behavior because of his homosexuality, which led him to several same-sex affairs.

The Posters

Wilde and his companion Alfred Bosie Douglas (Colin Morgan) are strolling merrily along a narrow path between buildings on the poster, showing one of the key relationships that will impact the story being told. It’s not an extraordinarily dynamic image, but it gets the point across, especially with the pull quote from a positive review at the top.

The Trailers

The first trailer shows that the movie will deal with Wilde’s dual personas as both the toast of London at the time and someone who ran afoul of the city’s morality laws. We see him be town between being true to himself and wanting to live his life free of those who would judge him.

There’s a lot of drama and Everett looks great in the role, with the ending showing that he’s also the creative force behind the movie on many fronts.

Online and Social

Sony Classics’ website offers a fair bit of information on the movie. The page starts with the trailer. Close that and scroll down the page and you’ll find a story “Synopsis” along with a statement from Everett about how much he’s always been drawn to Wilde’s work and what making the movie meant to him as well as a few production notes. “Cast” has the filmographies of those involved before the site ends with a stills “Gallery.” The studio only created a unique Facebook page for the movie but did support it on other brand channels.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve come across, but there may have been some targeted online ads in the locations the movie is first opening in.

Media and Publicity

Everett and the rest of the primary cast brought the movie to Sundance this year, where they talked about the story and the making of the film. A screening and Q&A was also hosted just recently by the L.A. Film Festival.

While, understandably, there was a heavier promotional push in the U.K., Everett did show up on “The Late Late Show” to talk more about making the movie.


This is a great reminder of how societal mores have changed drastically over the years and should continue to do so. That Wilde was imprisoned because of his sexuality – albeit with the fig leaf of morality laws – is something that should be more widely recognized, clearly something Everett beliefs and which drove him to tell this story.

The campaign won’t do much to attract anyone not already given to character driven dramas of real life events, but that’s alright. It will be interesting to see how the movie does in the U.K. compared to whatever its U.S. fate might be.

Picking Up The Spare

Rupert Everett receives a glowing profile here about his career and why he felt it so important to tell this story. He also talks about playing Oscar Wilde in this featurette.

The Wife – Marketing Recap

the wife posterIn the new movie The Wife coming to limited release this week, Glenn Close plays Joan Castleman, the wife of Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), a well-regarded author who one day learns he’s been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. A wonderful honor, of course, the two are feted at parties and galas where his genius is celebrated.

Through all that she is standing by his side, as she has been for decades. Finally it’s too much and the dreams she herself fostered of becoming a renowned writer come boiling to the surface, causing tension and turmoil that he doesn’t understand but which have been festering in her for a long, long time.

The Posters

There’s no copy on the poster, just the close-up faces of Close and Pryce, both in elegant evening wear, conveying the status of the characters and that we’re in thin air with the story.

The Trailers

Joe immediately does not come off as a warm, sensitive individual in the trailer, shown right off the bat as someone obsessed more with how his family’s behavior reflects on his image than anything else. When he’s notified he’s been awarded a Nobel Prize it sets off a series of events that creates more and more tension in his marriage to Joan, who it turns out is a frustrated writer herself. Her own writing was stifled by Joe so she wouldn’t compete with him for the spotlight, part of his overall dismissal of her as a person. She’s at the breaking point and is done with the facade of her life and her position alongside Joe.

Yes Glenn Close. Yes. Jonathan Pryce. Both look great here, but it’s Close that really comes through as the star, conveying all the years of dutiful obedient and subservient behavior and the resentment and anger that has been building, only to be unleashed by one dismissive comment too many. Also, it’s good to see Christian Slater again.

Online and Social

In addition to the usual material such as trailers, a gallery and more, the movie’s official website does offer some information on Meg Wolitzer, the author of the source novel.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen.

Media and Publicity

After receiving strong reviews and word of mouth at the Toronto Film Festival, the movie was picked up by Sony Classics.

At the movie’s premiere in late July, Close offered her comments on why it took so long for the movie, which has been circulating around for a while, to finally come to the screen. Pryce and Slater also spoke about what motivates their characters. Later on Close was profiled as someone who’s never taken the easy path in her career but has never been uninteresting.

A couple weeks ago a clip showing a young Joan still driven by ambition was released.

Close made the media rounds, showing up on “Today,” “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night” to talk about the movie and its journey to the screen, also the subject of another story here. Also frequently mentioned was that her own daughter plays the younger version of her character in the film. Christian Slater also made a few appearances.


By focusing not just on Close but on the story of how Hollywood has effectively kept this out of production for a number of years the campaign makes the movie seem even more timely than it already was. It becomes an example of how women are kept to the side of society on a number of fronts and is all the more powerful for it.

Aside from that you can’t argue with anything featuring Close going all-out like this. She’s the focal point of the campaign, which is always welcome as it brings one of the best actresses around back to the forefront of the conversation.


Another profile of star Glenn Close and her impressive career here.

Good interview here with the movie’s screenwriter.

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House – Marketing Recap

We live in…interesting…times. Today’s political climate in Washington, D.C. has invited more than a few comparisons to the era of the Nixon presidency, including the love of secrets (along with the racism and xenophobia, but let’s focus on secrets). That makes it an intriguing time to release Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.

In the movie, Liam Neeson plays Mark Felt, at the time of Nixon’s administration a high-ranking FBI agent. As the investigation into the 1972 Watergate break-in that captured the public’s attention, thanks largely to the reporting of Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, begins to involve the White House more and more, pressure from the president and his aides to shut down that investigation mounts. They want it gone but Felt, the career man who believes in the power of the agency and the check it provides on power, refuses to comply. Facing obstacles, he becomes an anonymous source for Bernstein, helping to guide the reporting. Basically, if Felt can’t get justice one way, he’ll do what he needs to to get it another way. This “Deep Throat” was born, a secret that would be kept for over 30 years.

The Posters

There’s no additional copy or story insights on the poster, which just shows Neeson as Felt looking very serious and somber. The clunky subtitle was apparently deemed enough explanation to convey to the audience.

The Trailers

The first trailer opens with the same scene that was used in an earlier clip, with Felt making it clear to a group of White House advisors that he knows all their and other people’s secrets. He’s a career FBI official, so he’s the first one called when a group of people break into the Watergate Hotel. There’s a group of people who want that investigation stopped dead, though, but he’s determined to see it through, steadfast in his belief that the FBI is the ultimate power in government. White House pressure increases but so do Felt’s efforts to get the truth out, even if it’s through unofficial channels. That leads to the last scene in the trailer, showing Felt meeting with a certain Washington Post reporter and being informed his status as an anonymous source has earned him a particular nickname.

It’s a powerful and intense trailer that sells the movie as a political thriller more than anything. What can’t be missed, of course, are the parallels between the events depicted here and the headlines we’re all seeing on a daily basis about independent councils and investigators that the current White House occupant would like to see disappear or discredited. It’s great to see Neeson back in a drama like this as well.

Online and Social

The trailer greets you when you open the movie’s official website, which you should watch again because it’s pretty good. At the top of the page are buttons to watch it again or get tickets along with links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

There’s a menu on the left but you can navigate to all the content by simply scrolling down the page as well. “About” is the first section, which includes a Synopsis and a Director’s Statement from Peter Landesman where he explains how he got involved and what resonated with him most about the story.

The “Cast” and “Filmmakers” sections offer not just the usual lists but more biographical details about each individual when you click on their names.

“The History” is a great section that offers some backgrounds and details on the real life people whose stories are being told in the film, including Felt, those at the Post and others involved. You can scroll through the “Gallery” of over 20 stills and production photos.

Finally, the “Links” section has links to the IMDb pages of the main cast members and “Reviews” has a few pull quotes from positive write-ups of the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing here that I’ve seen, not even paid ads on Twitter.

Media and Publicity

A screening at the Toronto Film Festival generated overall positive buzz and word-of-mouth for the movie, with lots of people praising the story and Neeson’s performance in particular. While there Neeson talked about how he was kind of done with the action movie phase of his career, due largely to him getting a bit older.

A bit later the director, Peter Landesman, spoke about how he didn’t know who Mark Felt was or what he’d accomplished until he started working on this project.

Neeson made some TV appearances as well to talk about playing a historical figure who loomed so large, though almost completely unknown, in U.S. political history.

In subsequent interviews, Landesman would continue talking about how he was intrigued by the real story of Felt and why he took the actions he did. He also, of course, had to address how the story is still extraordinarily relevant today, especially given the current administration’s reputation for dirty dealings. Tony Goldwyn and Josh Lucas also spoke about their reasons for joining the movie as well as the relevancy the story still has today.


It’s natural that the publicity portion of the campaign would so often reference the shenanigans happening in Washington today. It may have forced Landesman and Neeson into some uncomfortably political conversations, but a story about the media taking down a President when the Feds won’t has too many parallels to our current world to ignore. Still, the director, in particular, tried to keep the focus on how this was more about the story you don’t know about the man many of us didn’t know of until 12 years ago but who changed the face of the politics nonetheless.

The rest of the marketing is a bit dry and stuffy, clearly selling the movie as a prestige release coming out in the early weeks of awards season. Neeson’s performance, of course, is at the core of the campaign, but it’s surprising that the studio couldn’t create a more compelling, relevant narrative for audiences to latch on to. I’m not suggesting it should have been misrepresented as a white-knuckle thriller, just that there could have been some stronger messaging offered. The lack of tagline or anything on the poster is particularly notable here.

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