How Warner Bros. has sold a drama about whistleblowing and isolation.
Director Steven Soderbergh is back with another in his career-long experiment with style, structure and genre. This time around it’s Kimi.
Zoe Kravitz stars as Angela Childs, an agoraphobic woman who works from home for a tech company. One day she finds what she believes to be evidence of a violent crime in the data she’s reviewing, but her higher ups don’t seem to be interested in acting on it. So Childs has to confront her fears and venture outside her apartment to find others who will take it seriously.
The movie also stars Rita Wilson, Byron Bowers, India de Beaufort and others as the people Childs has to deal with in her efforts to find someone who will believe her story. Let’s take a look at how it’s been sold.
announcements and casting
HBO Max announced the film in late February, 2021 with Kravitz starring and Soderbergh directing. Bowers, Erika Christensen, Devin Ratray and the rest of the cast joined a couple months later in advance of filming taking place in the middle of last year.
the marketing campaign
The trailer (120,000 YouTube views) was the first bit of marketing that was released, hitting in mid-January. After some juxtaposition of Childs’ automated home/work life and her running from something dangerous, we settle in to see how she has arranged her life so she never needs to leave her apartment. When she hears what she believes to be a murder on an audio file she’s transcribing she finds her superiors want her to forget it. Others are also skeptical, but despite attempts to make her feel she’s the crazy one her fears seem to be justified as she’s targeted by some powerful people who want her to go away.
Childs peers nervously around a corner, hoodie up to keep her as hidden as possible, on the first and only poster, released at the end of January. As if her positioning weren’t enough, the “She’s not the only one listening” copy hints strongly that there’s something sinister about the story.
Outside of those elements there wasn’t much to the marketing of the movie. Kravitz has been in the press quite a bit lately, but that’s mostly for The Batman, coming out next month.
Just now a 30-second cutdown of the trailer was released that hits the major points of Childs being on the run after hearing something she wasn’t supposed to and navigating the various parties who at best don’t believe her and at worst want to eliminate her.
What I’m most surprised at is that this isn’t getting a bigger push from Warner Bros. and HBO Max. Not that everything Steven Soderbergh does needs to be treated like the biggest release of the year, but it feels like this is an afterthought for the studio/platform as they focus on not only major features like The Batman but also buzzier titles like “Euphoria” and others that have captured the public’s attention.
That being said, Soderbergh has rarely (if ever) turned in something boring and this doesn’t seem to deviate from that. He doesn’t turn genres upside down like the Coen Brothers, but instead offers examples of what the best of a genre can look like, a talent that’s on display fully in this trailer.
On top of that, more than other similar recent movies, it creates a sense of dread around what are now largely considered everyday conveniences and devices. Every time the KIMI says “I’m here,” you’re reminded of how the one-sheet copy hints at everything being monitored, with the vague threat that those sessions will be used against us in some way.