Broken Hearts Gallery – Marketing Recap

How Sony has sold an offbeat romantic comedy.

The Broken Hearts Gallery, new this week in whatever theaters are available, stars Geraldine Viswanathan as Lucy, a young woman getting over her latest romantic misstep. Lucy has a tendency to memorialize past relationships with some sort of souvenir, something her friends and roommates find odd. After a chance meeting with Nick (Dacre Montgomery) and because of her job as an art gallery assistant, Lucy is inspired to take all those leftovers and open a pop-up space showing them off. With social media driving interest, others begin to bring their own relationship mementos and add them to the display at The Broken Hearts Gallery.

Written and directed by Natalie Krinsky, the movie has received a campaign from Sony that has leaned into Lucy’s emotion-driven need to express herself as well as how her efforts to finally find some closure to those relationships might put her in a better position when her friendship with Nick begins to evolve. Decent, if not glowing, reviews have given it a 75 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Posters

Lucy and Nick gaze at each other on the first poster (by marketing agency Works Adv), released in mid-June. They’re both sitting on a beat up couch that, for some reason, is placed right in the middle of a New York street. That’s probably meant to help establish the story setting and overall aesthetic, which is very much street-level neighborhood NYC. Further hinting at the story comes from the title treatment, rendered here as a neon sign, and the copy “There’s an art to letting go.”

The Trailers

The first trailer (8.3 million views on YouTube) came out in late June and immediately shows how Lucy is having a hard time getting over her most recent failed relationship, something that has her roommates concerned. When she finally does agree to reenter the world it doesn’t go very well, but she does meet Nick, who we find out has dreams of opening a boutique hotel. Lucy agrees to help him with the art, which turns into a community project of memorabilia from past loves. Things progress from there, of course, as their personal and professional relationships both mature and take form.

A second, short, final trailer (1.4 million views on YouTube) came out just last week. It hits most of the same big beats as the first one, just without some of the details and other moments. The message is similar, though, that this is about Lucy coming to terms with her past relationships and doing something creative while doing so.

Online and Social

Sony’s official website for the film has a pretty standard collection of the marketing materials, including a synopsis, small photo gallery and trailers.

Advertising and Promotions

Sony’s release date for the film has been a moving target given the uncertain theatrical situation, with an early-August timeframe being the latest move, at least before the movie was pulled from the schedule entirely in July.

In August Sony announced the film would have its premiere as one of its drive-in features hosted and screened on the studio lot. That premiere, sponsored by Porsche and Atom Tickets, was held in early September with the cast and filmmakers among others in attendance.

Clips released over the last few weeks include Lucy meeting Nick, Lucy establishing the idea for her makeshift gallery and her friends trying to get her to let go of the detritus she’s accumulated from past relationships.

There were also a couple short featurettes offering brief backgrounds on both Lucy and Nick.

Both Viswanathan and Montgomery shot a special promo for Regal Cinemas.

Media and Press

There were a couple interviews with Krinsky where she talked about how long she’s been developing this project and the work she’s put into it as well as how she approached creating an unconventional romantic comedy that is coming out in the middle of a pandemic.

Viswanathan was interviewed about taking on a leading role as well as how she feels her career is going so far and more.

Overall

One thing that comes through strongly in the campaign is how it seeks to add something fresh to the rom-com genre by frankly discussing female sexuality without sacrificing emotions. In fact the intersection of the two seems to be the main theme of the campaign as we see Lucy navigate how she’s feeling about her past relationships and the desire for something physical. All of that gets channeled into her art.

What’s being sold here is a character-driven rom-com, one that has the added benefit of featuring characters and individuals that still aren’t commonly represented on-screen. It’s all the fresher for it.

Picking Up The Spare

Additional press coverage included a profile of the crafts departments on the production and more from Krinsky on the real life inspiration for the story and how she felt making her directorial debut. 

The stars appeared in a new interview for Regal Cinemas. 

Greyhound – Marketing Recap

How Apple is selling the latest WWII film starring Tom Hanks

As is the case with many recent films, we should have marked the theatrical release of Greyhound a while ago. As it stands, though, the movie is coming to VOD this week via Apple TV+.

Based on “The Good Shepherd” by C S Forester, Tom Hanks stars as Captain Krause, a relatively inexperienced naval commander who is assigned to an Allied convoy crossing the Atlantic in the early days of World War II. Krause, still unsure in his post, faces a number of challenges, from the elements to the crew to the phalanx of Nazi submarines that stalk the convoy. Determined to keep his crew alive, Krause has to dig deep to balance all the problems in need of solving.

The campaign – first from Sony and then Apple – focuses on Hanks and his role as Krause, a no-nonsense commander in a no-nonsense situation. Reviews have been somewhat mixed so far, with the movie scoring 76 percent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment.

The Posters

In March the first poster (by marketing agency Works Adv) came out, showing Krause looking to the side with a colorful sunset – as well as a billowing American flag – behind him. Flying through the sky are warplanes to help establish the military setting. Copy at the top reads “The only thing more dangerous than the front lines was getting there,” hinting at how it’s a story of troop transportation logistics we’re in for.

That same text, and the same photo of Krause, is used on the second poster (by marketing agency Art Machine), also from March. But this time the conflict of the story is made a bit more explicit with the inclusion of images from a naval battle between submarines and destroyers. This fixes a key shortcoming of the first poster.

The same design was used on a new poster from June that ditches the copy but adds the Apple TV+ logo to signal the platform the movie will wind up being available on.

The Trailers

Krause is commanding a ship across the dangerous waters of the North Atlantic in 1942 as the trailer (12.5 million views on YouTube), released in March, opens. As part of a convoy of Allied ships, that means dodging U-boats and coming to the rescue of other ships. This is his first trip, but the choices he makes keep him and his crew alive from one moment to the next, even as others in the flotilla aren’t as lucky. It’s a tense story of survival being sold here, all told in colors that are just as saturated as the emotions are heightened.

Online and Social

Apple didn’t manage any sort of website for the movie, just a product page that has some rudimentary information and plenty of information on how to try the streaming service. It looks like a Twitter account was setup, but likely just to post the trailer so it could be used as an ad on that network.

Advertising and Promotions

Almost as soon as the marketing campaign kicked off in March the studio announced the release date was being pushed back by a month, but the reasons for doing so were unclear. In May news broke that Sony had offloaded the movie to Apple TV+ with no theatrical release potential in sight because of the Covid-19 situation. Finally in mid-June an early-July Apple TV+ debut date was announced.

At the same time, ads on YouTube and elsewhere promoted its upcoming Apple TV+ availability, using elements of the key art along with the trailer.

Apple released a featurette just a few days ago that had Hanks and others talking about the film’s story, the history behind it and more.

Media and Press

An interview with director Aaron Schneider allowed him to talk about how he approached making the film, especially working with Hanks, who also wrote the screenplay.

Overall

It’s strange to see the release imminent and for there to have been so little press involvement from Hanks, who was reportedly extremely disappointed when the film shifted from theatrical to VOD release. He’s usually been the biggest resource his film’s campaigns can rely on, and while he’s been out talking about Covid-19 testing and mask wearing, he doesn’t seem to have talked much about this film.

Despite that, this is a decent campaign for what looks like a Very Serious Movie. But it remains puzzling why it was ever slated for a summer release when it seems more like an October or November title with its subject matter, tone and visual style. I’m not sure who the summer audience for this would have been, especially if things had gone as planned and Tenet had been sucking up all the Serious Summer Movie air from the room.

Also missing is any mention of the source book or context for the period that would help audiences get their heads around it. So while it’s good, there’s definite areas where it falls short in capturing people’s attention.

Picking Up The Spare

Hanks and Schneider were interviewed here about their goal of authenticity in how the characters and situations were depicted on screen. Similar ground was also covered in an interview with costume designer Julie Weiss. 

Another featurette with Hanks and others offered additional looks at the filming of the movie. Similar ground was covered when Hanks stopped by “The Late Show.”

There was a bit of coverage as awards season started on the behind-the-scenes details of making the film. 

Bloodshot – Marketing Recap

The last movie that will ever open in 2020 comes out this week.

bloodshot poster 2Bloodshot, based on the Valiant Comics series and character of the same name, hits theaters this weekend, just before the world as we know it comes to an end and after other studios have pulled a n number of big-name titles from the release calendar.

Initially expected, via tracking reports, to have an opening weekend of around $10 million, that number is likely to be much lower given the U.S. public is now quickly moving into full self-quarantine/social distancing mode. Heck, it’s not even clear if theaters are still going to be open this weekend.

Despite all that, the movie stars Vin Diesel as Ray Garrison, a soldier killed in battle who is brought back to life by a mysterious organization. Not only is he resurrected, advanced technology gives him incredible powers, including being able to heal himself from injury and massive strength. Given missions by his masters, Garrison – now codenamed Bloodshot – also sets out to find the man he believes murdered his wife. But his memories may not be trustworthy as he finds reality is much more complicated than it seems.

Sony’s campaign has made the most of Diesel’s limited dramatic range, using special effects to fill in the rest in an attempt to appeal to audiences.

The Posters

Garrison is walking purposefully toward the camera on the first poster (by marketing agency BOND), released in January. You can see the character’s trademark glowing red chest symbol beneath his shirt, especially through what appear to be bullet holes. That symbol is reiterated visually behind him. At the top we’re told “You don’t need a past to have a future,” referencing the gaps in Bloodshot’s memory that fuel a lot of the story.

That same pose is used on the next poster (by marketing agency Art Machine), which adds a couple of the allies Bloodshot surrounds himself with to the background. This time the tagline reads “Being a super hero is in his blood.”, which isn’t quite as good as the first attempt.

Other posters, including one for IMAX, used variations on those themes, either showing Bloodshot on his own and up close or pulling the camera out to allow for the supporting characters and settings to be seen.

Of particular note is how some of the posters – especially the first one – make sure to call out that the movie is “Based on the best-selling comic book.” Many movies rooted in comics aren’t quite as clear in selling the source material, which is a real problem facing the comics industry, so it’s nice to see one that does so.

The Trailers

As many trailers about lone, angry men do, the trailer (11.6 million views on YouTube) for this movie, released in October of last year, opens by showing us how much Garrison loves his wife, who of course is a tall, leggy blonde. Cut to him waking up on a table to find out he died and has been brought back by a company that injected him with microscope organisms that make him stronger and heal injuries instantly. He takes off to find the man responsible for killing his wife, something that’s easier thanks to his healing abilities. Turns out, though, that the people who claim to be helping him are actually manipulating his memories to send him on assassination missions. When Garrison starts to put things together he sets his sights on them.

Online and Social

The landing page of the movie’s official website features the key art seen on the first poster, but that’s about as interesting as things get. It’s just the usual marketing materials shared here, lacking even a link or information on the source comic series.

Advertising and Promotions

Footage – and more importantly audio – from the movie was used in a promotional video by Dolby for its Atmos sound experience.

TV advertising began in early March with spots like this that boiled the sales pitch down to some cool special effects and a creepy bad guy. Similar videos were used for online and social media ads.

A first clip was given to Sony’s PlayStation division earlier this month showing the newly revived Garrison learning what he’s become a part of.

Sony announced last week this would be the latest title released in its new ICE immersive format.

The red carpet premiere was held earlier this week (before such events started getting canceled) and had all the stars and filmmakers in attendance. Diesel and others made sure to call out the comics the movie is based on to the audience both in person and online.

Another clip given to Fandango is all about the action, showing how Bloodshot can reconstitute himself after being seemingly injured.

A featurette released at the last minute has Diesel introducing the character to audiences.

Media and Press

The movie’s director and producer were interviewed around the time the first trailer came out, talking about the character and how they think audiences will react to him.

Diesel stopped by “Kimmel” to talk about this film and more. Costars Sam Heugan, Eliza Gonzalez and Lamorne Morris also made some talk show appearances.

An interview with the lead actor had him establishing that not only could there be more Bloodshot movies but that this might act as the launching point for a shared universe of Valiant Comics characters. Another feature profile had him talking about this movie and lots more.

Director David S.F. Wilson was interviewed about how his experience with special effects helped him navigate his first helming effort.

Overall

As it stands, the campaign Sony mounted sells an utterly ridiculous, over-the-top science fiction action movie featuring an actor who makes damp drywall seem overly emotive. He’s very popular, but outside of the Fast Saga that popularity is somewhat questionable.

That’s why, while the star can’t exactly be hidden away in the marketing, he certainly seems to be taking a back seat to the special effects.

The biggest sword hanging over the movie is whether or not there’s any willingness among the public to go to the movies this weekend. On the one hand, this campaign offers some decent escapism from the massive chunks of detritus falling from the sky at the moment. On the other, any public gathering right now seems like asking to become a public health cautionary tale.

So we’ll see how things turn out. Whatever happens, Sony’s campaign is outlandish and ridiculous. Whether it works or not might be up to a tiny little virus.

Bad Boys For Life – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Bad Boys For Life at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

In addition to the usual marketing materials, the official website features a Meme Maker feature that lets people upload a photo and then add the movie’s title treatment to it. The result can then be shared on social or sent to friends.

Media and Publicity

The project was one that had gone through many starts and stops over the years, subject to endless speculation on if or when it might happen. It wasn’t until early January that Smith shared a photo confirming production had begun. He later offered a first official look at the movie as well.

Lawrence and Smith appeared jointly on “Good Morning America” while the two made separate stops on “The Tonight Show” over the last week or so. Smith also chatted with Seth Myers on “Late Night.”

How Lawrence has overcome the troubles he’s had both personally and professionally in the last 20 years or so was covered in this interview with the actor.

Why now was the perfect time to bring the Bad Boys back to the big screen and more were covered in comments made by the stars and others on the movie’s premiere red carpet.

Overall

Picking Up the Spare

More from Lawrence on his return to acting and what he’s been up to here. There was also finally some attention paid to Hudgens and her supporting role in this feature.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer spoke at the premiere about the movie and why another sequel has been so long in the works.

Will Smith drove a Lyft car in Miami in a promotional stunt for the movie.

Spies in Disguise – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing for Spies In Disguise at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

Not much of note on the movie’s official website, which is laid out in the usual Fox site template. I would have expected something more like a “turn yourself into a pigeon” photo upload feature or casual game or something else, but none of that is here.

Media and Press

Holland appeared on “Kimmel” in early December to talk about this movie as well as others. Other than that there doesn’t seem to have been a big press push for the film, maybe because both stars have been out promoting other projects very recently and this was deemed not worth the effort.

Overall

I’m honestly not sure who this is meant for or who’s supposed to be enticed by this campaign. It’s a mystery to me.

Picking Up the Spare

Another commercial came out just before Christmas that focused on the “Team Weird” theme that emerged late in the campaign. There were also videos of Smith and Holland experiencing an escape room of sorts and a new clip released as well.

A profile of the movie and its creators focused how it seeks to communicate inventive and non-violent solutions to problems for kids.

Little Women – Marketing Recap

How Sony is selling the latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.

little women poster 9The story of Little Women is one that’s been told on film a number of times over the decades. Now writer/director Greta Gerwig is bringing her own interpretation of the material to screens with an all-star cast and a modern sensibility that still retains the story’s original setting.

As always, the story revolves around the women of the March family, with matriarch Marmee (Laura Dern) and daughters Beth (Eliza Scanlen), Amy (Florence Pugh), Meg (Emma Watson) and Jo (Saoirse Ronan). With the men all gone fighting the Civil War they have to make it on their own and count on each other. All four have their own dreams and desires but come up against the standards of the time, which don’t let a woman claim her independence or make her own way in the world.

In marketing the film, Columbia Pictures/Sony has relied on audience’s familiarity with the source material while also promoting the presence of some of today’s most buzzed-about young actors.

The Posters

Jo is shown running toward the camera on the first poster (by marketing agency Works Adv) from October. The other main characters are relegated to horizontal photo strips off to the side, there to be shown off to the audience but clearly not the focus of the movie. “Own your story” conveys the take-charge attitude audiences will encounter when they see it.

A series of character posters that offer fuller looks at the cast came out shortly after that.

One final poster shows the four March sisters looking anxiously out the window anxiously, emphasizing one more time the weight of the cast on display here.

The Trailers

It’s very much the classic story we’re all familiar with being shown in the first trailer (7.6 million views on YouTube), released in early August. While the characters and plot may be largely known to us, the selling point then becomes the cast that’s been assembled by Gerwig, one that includes some of the most buzzed-about talent working today. Aside from that, the message sent to the audience is that women can do whatever it is they want and should be allowed to do so my men and society as a whole, which still remains an important one.

Online and Social

There’s actually some good stuff on the movie’s official website, including a “March Sisters Quiz” to help you determine which one you’re the most like.

Advertising and Publicity

The movie gained significant awards season momentum following a press/SAG/DGA screening in October.

Laurie asks Jo to dance in the first clip, released in early November. A second clip released a bit later has the two discussing the economic realities of love and marriage in the era. Additional clips had Auntie Marsh talking about Jo’s need to be married and her frustration at the whole of patriarchal society.

An extended TV commercial came out in late November that offered a recap of the story, focusing on Jo’s special place in the family and her unwillingness to accept the fate that awaits her as a woman in that era.

The movie’s premiere was held last week, with Gerwig and the cast all showing up to chat about the production and more.

Little Free Libraries was the only promotional partner for the film, putting movie-branded boxes of books in select cities across the country. Sony donated 2,000 copies of Little Women to be stocked in those and other locations as well.

Most of the cast participated in a “Tiny Kitchen” vignette, watching as a movie-themed tiny kitchen was assembled.

Media and Press

While also talking about other projects, Ronan spoke on what it was like to reunite with her Lady Bird director. Pugh commented on the movie and its story while she was in Sundance earlier this year promoting other projects. Reports circulated in April that this was the second choice Sony had in mind if Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, the new movie from Quentin Tarantino, wasn’t ready for screening at Cannes.

Vanity Fair offered a first look at the pairing of Ronan and Chalamet in mid-June. Interviews with Pugh while she was promoting Midsomer earlier this year often included comments about transitioning from that production to this one and what a welcome relief the change was.

An interview with Gerwig from about the same time the trailer was released has her sharing her thoughts on assembling the powerful cast and making the most of their talents.

A brief Chalamet profile came out that touched only on very high-level topics and only briefly mentioned this movie. That came at about the same time as an EW cover story featuring both Chalamet and Ronan where they talked about working together again and the natural chemistry they enjoy on screen as well as an interview with Pugh where she shared her approach to her character and attachment to the material.

The October screening included a Q&A with Gerwig and the cast where they talked about the story and how they got into character.

What drew her to offer yet another take on the familiar story and how she assembled the impressive cast were covered by Gerwig in another interview where she talked about the research she did in preparation for production. The ways in which she and the cast updated that material were the topic of a joint profile with her and Pugh.

While the focus was on other things, costar Tracy Letts briefly commented on his enthusiasm for working with Gerwig again after getting to know her while filming Lady Bird.

Chalamet spoke about the movie when he appeared on “Late Night” several weeks ago.

A profile of Ronan had her acknowledging the likely importance of this role in her career while also emphasizing how committed she was to getting that role while Gerwig talked about how she approached Jo and working with the actor.

In a nice touch, the movie was endorsed by Gillian Armstrong, who directed the much-loved 1994 version.

How cast and crew assembled to make the very old novel interesting and relevant to the modern times was the subject of an extended feature profile that encompassed comments from many of those involved.

Gerwig’s influence on the story and her ability to manage the cast were all commented on by those involved at the film’s premiere a few weeks ago.

Members of the cast made a major foray into the late night talk show arena beginning a couple weeks ago. “The Tonight Show” hosted Chalamet, “The Late Show” featured Ronan and Pugh.

The stars of the film expressed their collective dismay at Gerwig’s being overlooked for a Golden Globes director nomination.

The movie’s release allowed for a new conversation about the source book and its rightful place in the American literary canon and the reasons it might not be currently occupying that position.

Gerwig spoke about how long she’s had the ending of the movie in mind and what it took for her to get it made.

Overall

Selling an all-female drama set in during the Civil War should be a hard task, but by selling it as a piece of modern filmmaking with whipsmart dialogue uttered by some of the most critically-praised actors in recent years is a solid way around that problem.

A movie like this should be benefitting from all sorts of awards season buzz, but as many people have noted it’s oddly not. The reasons why are unknown (though plenty of speculation has been bandied about) but whatever they are it means a crucial part of the hype cycle is missing, which could impact its chances for success at the box office as well.

Despite that, what’s sold here is all manner of enticing. Throughout the campaign Gerwig has promised anything but a staid period drama. Instead what audiences are offered is a vital, fresh, energetic take on the material that reflects both the past and the present.

Picking Up the Spare

A new behind the scenes featurette has been released along with another that focused on Gerwig’s direction.

Gerwig started making a few late night appearances along with participating in a number of additional interviews on the inspirations for the story, her work building the world of the film, her long personal journey with the story. She also appeared on “Kimmel” to talk about the movie and her early awards season snubs.

Also getting some attention was the film’s costume and production designers.

Another profile of Pugh here that talked about this movie and her career as a whole. She also appeared on late night to promote the movie and talk about the various Oscar snubs.

The movie has increased interest in and attendance at the Alcott family home in Massachusetts.

Jumanji: The Next Level – Marketing Recap

You can read my entire recap of the marketing campaign for Jumanji: The Next Level at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

Nothing much of note on the movie’s official website, which just wants to make sure you get the marketing content you’ve likely already seen and buy tickets now.

Media and Publicity

A first cast photo was shared in mid-March, kicking off the publicity campaign for the film.

Aside from appearances on late night talk shows by Johnson, Black, Hart and others in the cast there doesn’t seem to have been a whole lot of press activity for the movie, something common among this week’s releases.

Overall

Picking Up the Spare

Sony released a sizzle reel from the premiere event. There was also a special Comedy Central promotion on how Johnson and Hart learned to be old people.

Another nice profile on the pairing of DeVito and Glover. Meanwhile Gillan was interviewed about her unexpected career path as action hero.

Gillan appeared on “Kimmel.”

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood – Marketing Recap

One of America’s most beloved figures plays another of America’s most beloved figures.

a beautiful day in the neighborhood poster 3A couple years ago there was a cluster of documentaries about Fred Rogers and the magical show he helped create. Chief among them was Won’t You Be My Neighbor, which chronicled the beginnings of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” and showed how Rogers worked hard to keep civility, respect and empathy at the core of everything he did and everything he shared.

This week’s new release A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood takes a dramatic approach to telling Rogers’ story. Not a standard beat-by-beat biopic, the movie is based on 1998 Esquire profile of the man by reporter Tom Junod and focuses on the short period of time Junod spent with Rogers researching that article.

Rogers is played by Tom Hanks, fulfilling the head canon most everyone has had since about 1995 in terms of matching an actor to a role. Playing Junod is Matthew Rhys. Sony’s campaign for the movie has, as we’ll see, used Hanks’ widespread adoration as a major selling point while also making clear the Rogers everyone saw on TV for decades was the same one that existed when the cameras were off.

The Posters

If you’re not already crying at the “We could all use a little kindness” copy that sits atop the first poster (by marketing agency BOND) released in September I’m not sure we can continue to have this conversation. Rogers is decked out in his sneakers and red cardigan, seated on the steps outside his television house and looking every bit the compassionate friend so many of us remember. It’s a simple poster to convey a simple message, right down to the unobtrusive type used for the title treatment.

The second effort (by marketing agency Gravillis Inc.) from October is a little less successful, putting Rogers on a stool against a bright orange background. Descriptions of his character including “Neighbor. Icon. Friend.” are shown at the top. This time around the copy reads “An American icon and the story of kindness we need right now,” which is a little heavy-handed.

Thankfully things get back on track on the third poster (by BOND), released just last week. This time Rogers is shown on his living room set having a conversation with Junod, who looks slightly embarrassed at the situation he finds himself in. Instead of a tagline this one features a handful of positive pull quotes from enthusiastic early reviews.

The Trailers

What the first trailer (12.2 million views on YouTube), released in late July, does most well are two things: 1) We get a good look at Hanks as Rogers and see he gives the performance all the charm we’ve come to expect from the actor without ever breaking out of the guardrails provided by the real man, and 2) Explain the framing device of the story, that we’re seeing Rogers through Vogel’s eyes and experiences, many of which are mirrored in members of the audience. Reactions to the trailer were almost uniformly of the “Give me a minute while I stop ugly-crying” variety.

Online and Social

For all the care and attention given to reinforcing and protecting Rogers’ legacy and reputation in the rest of the campaign, the movie’s official website is a real head scratcher.

Not only is there no biographical information on the subjects of the film – not even a link to Junod’s original profile – but there’s a “Photo Feature” that allows visitors to:

  1. Upload a picture of themselves and add it to the publicity still of Hanks as Rogers sitting on the front steps, or
  2. Upload a picture of their own and have the movie’s title treatment along with their location added to it.

This is just the kind of feature that has been used for a lot of bad, off-brand purposes when other companies have used it. While similar tools have been available on the sites for other movies, it seems like the potential for abuse that would sully the name of Rogers and his mission would be too high a risk.

Other than that, the site simply sports the usual marketing material. But that one section is going to bother me for quite a while.

Advertising and Publicity

The first trailer was released just before the news broke that the movie had been added to the lineup of the 2019 Toronto Film Festival. Hanks, ever the charmer, led a group sing-along of Rogers’ best known song while working the crowd there. Reviews were massively positive, calling Hanks’ performance one of the best of his career. Sony released a sizzle reel of the premiere activity in Toronto.

Later on it was added to the list of films screening at the London Film Festival.

News came in September that Hanks would receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award at this year’s Golden Globes.

A short featurette was released in October with Hanks, Heller and others talking about what made Fred Rogers so special. Another one released in early November has them sharing the care and attention paid to making Hanks believable as Rogers. That the movie is a tribute to Rogers was covered in a third video that features an interview with his widow.

Heller introduced the film and answered questions about it at a screening last week hosted by The Hollywood Reporter.

Another featurette was focused on the article that inspired the movie and included an interview with Junod.

Just recently Sony held the film’s premiere in New York City and released a short sizzle video of footage from the event. On the other coast, a group of artists created a movie-inspired mural in Venice, CA.

TV spots like this were short and focused on the humble nature of Rogers message, even as they included overly dramatic music. Online ads used the key art and video snippets pulled from the trailer.

Promotional partners included:

  • Vineyard Vines, which touted its position as the “official style” of the film and offered a collection of movie-inspired ties.
  • Funko, which released a new POP figure of Hanks as Rogers.
  • Beekman 1802, which is unveiling a new movie-inspired gift set of beauty items on QVC next week.

Additionally, both Random House and Penguin Books are releasing movie tie-in books.

Media and Press

The first look photo released by Sony last September showed Hanks sporting the iconic red sweater in a behind-the-scenes shot. Shortly before the new year the movie was finally given a proper title. An actual production still was released in mid-February and another a month later.

Around the time the first trailer was released Heller was interviewed about how she worked with Hanks to tone down his natural boisterousness in favor of the more subdued stillness that was Rogers’ hallmark style as well as how the production team recreated the sets and other trappings of the show.

Another interview with Heller that happened while she and Hanks were in Toronto allowed her to explain some of the choices she made with the story and how she landed Hanks for the lead role. At the same time, Hanks spoke about how he came to appreciate Rogers’ worldview and approach to educating and communicating with children as well as how he finally got involved with the project. Heller also sought to set expectations that this wasn’t a traditional biopic but a very specific story being told.

The director talked about how hard she worked to get Hanks involved in a profile that also emphasized her notable career prior to taking on this project. Rhys was also profiled, talking about how he got familiar with Rogers’ work after being cast as well as working the Hanks.

How the production team faithfully recreated the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” set was covered in a feature that talked about the research everyone involved did.

A feature profile of Hanks encapsulated a lot of the press focus, from how “nice guy” Hanks was playing the leading figure for compassion, respect and understanding in the world and how the filmmakers strove to not have the actor’s personality encroach on the subject of their story.

The dynamic between Hanks and Rhys was covered in a joint interview.

He’d mentioned it before, but Rhys talked about how he was wholly unfamiliar with Rogers when he appeared on “The Late Show.” Hanks also made the rounds, including on “Today.”

Just as confounding as the photo feature on the website was the decision to offer an exclusive behind the scenes look at the movie to a website with a reputation for sexism, racism, bullying and blatantly offensive and hurtful behavior both editorially and professionally.

The studio had news anchors on various national and local broadcasts wear red sweaters in celebration of #WorldKindnessDay.

Overall

This should be a beautiful campaign.

For the most part it is. Positive word of mouth from early screenings have given it a 97 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicative of the care and grace with which the filmmakers have handled the material. The press has hit exactly the right notes in interviewing both Hanks and Rhys, reinforcing the themes of the marketing (sometimes too heavily) while also being respectful to the legacy Rogers left behind.

A few missteps, though, bring the campaign down dramatically. Particularly that placement of a feature on the making of a movie at a site whose founder publicly threatened to fire any employee who tried to start a union. That’s the kind of off-brand mistake that can really come back to bite you.

Putting that aside, the movie is presented here as a gentle, inspiring feel good time at the theater, one that will cause you to ugly cry but leave feeling reinvigorated and hopeful. If that message can motivate enough people to skip Frozen 2, it may have a shot this weekend.

Picking Up the Spare

Hanks finally stopped by “Kimmel.”

Joanne Rogers, Fred’s widow, was a big part of the movie’s press campaign and made appearances like this on her own to talk about his legacy and how the film honors that.

The movie’s writers talk about how the approached conveying the important character of Rogers. Rhys was interviewed again about how he found the core of his real life character.

Two more featurettes were released to take advantage of awards season, one on Heller’s directing and one on the work of the production designers who recreated the tiny sets.

Charlie’s Angels – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Charlie’s Angels at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

In addition to the standard marketing materials, the movie’s official website has (of course) a link to buy or stream the soundtrack. It’s a bit better than most recent movie sites, including a link to find out how to get a sponsored Snapchat lens

Entertainment Weekly offered exclusive movie-themed lenses for Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram as well.

Media and Press

Well in advance of the movie coming out – indeed before production had really started – Stewart was out there talking about how Banks was approaching the material and how no one was interested in just ripping off earlier versions. Lucy Lui, who starred in the movies from the early 2000s, gave her blessing to the project. And Stewart commented on the attitude of the movie while promoting other projects last year.

While promoting J.T. Leroy earlier in the year Stewart spoke briefly about the movie, explaining how Banks and the other filmmakers told a relevant story using a slightly anachronistic concept, promising plenty of humor as well. Banks also mentioned the movie while she was promoting Brightburn and other projects.

There was a profile of Stewart back in August where she talked about this movie and her career to date.

Del Rey was interviewed about how her musical collaboration with others got started.

In September the whole cast and Banks appeared on “Kimmel” to talk about working together and offer some footage to the TV and studio audiences. Banks spoke about her directing career to date and why she wanted to take on this movie in particular in a feature interview. Another interview had her talking about her love of the original series and more.

Stewart hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live” in late October as part of a promotional push that included a stop at “The Tonight Show” as well. The topic of showing off hardworking women came up when Banks appeared on “The Late Show” while Scott’s time on “The Tonight Show” was more fun.

That was also the focus of a behind the scenes profile that included comments from Banks and the rest of the cast. She talked about how the film was meant to celebrate working women when she did a Q&A at a recent Fast Company-hosted event. A later interview had her putting the pressure on studios to hire more women filmmakers.

Overall

Picking Up the Spare

Balinska was interviewed about the production, including her training regiment to get in shape for the physical stonework.

Banks brought the thunder when asked why a reboot of the franchise was necessary at this point in time.

Zombieland: Double Tap – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Zombieland: Double Tap at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

There’s not a whole lot going on over at the movie’s official website, just the standard marketing materials along with lots of calls to action to buy tickets.

Sony created the usual social profiles for the movie, but took notably different approaches to them. The Facebook page has all the expected updates about promotional activities and new marketing assets being released. The Twitter profile has more updates and a more casual vibe, which isn’t unusual. What is worth calling out is that the Facebook uses “the Royal We” in framing how those updates are shared while on Twitter the updates come from an unnamed “I,” giving the profile a much more personal touch. That tactic is designed to create a stronger connection with followers by making it clear there’s a real person behind the posts, one that is just as excited about this new movie as they hope others are. So

Media and Press

It was over two years before any further update was offered. That’s when co-writer Paul Wernick made comments about how the movie was actually pretty close at hand, aiming toward a 2019 release.

Harrelson commented on the fun he had during production while promoting The Highwaymen earlier this year.

After the trailer debuted, Fleischer talked about why the sequel took so long to come together while also sharing comments from Stone that she wants to do one of these every decade to check in on the characters.

The cast made the late night and morning talk show rounds, with Deutsch and Zuckerberg appearing on “The Tonight Show” while the whole cast appeared on “The Tonight Show” to engage in a bit. Harrelson hosted “Saturday Night Live” a couple weeks ago.

AMC Theaters offered an exclusive featurette and interview with three of the leads. They commented on the same array of topics as before at the movie’s premiere.

Fleischer talked about how he revived old instincts to return to the decade-old stories and characters. He and others were interviewed again about the potential for another sequel in a decade.

Overall

Picking Up the Spare

More from the movie’s screenwriters here about their ideas for a third installment. The return of a certain celebrity in a cameo role was also covered, as was the unease felt by Stone and others in the cast. Deutch also talked about her addition to the story.

A blooper reel came out just after the movie was in theaters.