The Gentlemen – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

You’ll find the usual marketing material on the movie’s official website, which uses the key art of the cast standing and looking tough throughout.

Media and Press

A brief interview with Ritchie accompanied the first look photo released just before the first trailer dropped.

Most of the cast, including McConaughey, Grant, Hunnam, Golding and Strong all made various appearances on late night and early morning talk shows, with the first two showing up together to banter on “The Tonight Show” late last week.

STX released a short behind the scenes video showing the creation of the “weed portrait” outdoor execution, with an artist making a sign out of different parts of the cannabis plant. Another video showed off the fan-created posters submitted in response to a call for movie-inspired artwork.


Picking Up The Spare

Fandango MovieClips got a new exclusive clip of some of the movie’s antics.

Farrell made an appearance on “Kimmel” to promote the film.

The movie’s costume and production teams got the spotlight for how they created the look and feel of the story.

Hustlers – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Hustlers at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

STX created a lackluster website for the movie that doesn’t offer much in the way of context or background on the story. The “About” synopsis doesn’t even link to the article that inspired it. There was, though, an interesting secondary site called Hustling In that, once you allowed it to access your location and uploaded a photo, shared a graphic on social media showing where you were hustling from.

Media and Press

Lopez appeared on “The Tonight Show” to debut the first trailer.

Writer/director Lorene Scafaria was interviewed about the commitment Lopez and the rest of the cast showed in prepping for production along with what kind of original story she was hoping to tell in the movie. Meanwhile Cardi B shared what kind of dancing advice she gave some of her costars.

A profile of Lopez covered much of her career to date had her sharing how she got involved with the movie, including how doing so is part of a surge of creativity she’s enjoying at the moment. An interview with Wu allowed her to talk about this movie and some of the other elements of her career lately.

While in Toronto for the movie’s premiere, Scarfaria was interviewed at length about the journey she’s been with the project over the last several years, including how it was dropped by Annapurna last year as part of its corporate realignment. Similar ground was covered in another interview. What’s notable is that this is at least the second recent movie directed by a woman where a key narrative in the press push has been that no one was interested in helping make the movie happen, something you don’t hear a lot about when it comes to male directors.

She also spoke about how she worked to make a movie about strippers that wasn’t designed for the male gaze but emphasized the power the women in the story had in a movie made for women.

There were lots of interviews with the cast and crew following the TIFF premiere. That included more from Lopez on the dancing in the film, how proud she was to have helped bring the story to the screen, the on-set solidarity that resulted from a largely female production team and more. The movie’s costume designer was interviewed about how she leaned on Cardi B for insights on how stripper’s clothes are meant to perform and talked again here about the costumes and look of the film.

Just days before it opened, Lopez stopped by “GMA” in Times Square to talk about the movie and more. A little before that, Wu made an appearance on “The Tonight Show” to have some fun with Fallon and Lopez showed up on “Late Night” as well.

EW featured a joint interview with Lopez and Wu just before the movie hit theaters.

Julia Stiles, who plays the journalist interviewing the dancers in the film, was completely absent from the campaign and made what seems to be only one appearance in the media push with an interview here.


Picking Up the Spare

Creating the look and feel of the movie was covered in this interview with the the costume designer and director of photography. Lopez and Wu spoke more about the bond they formed during production.

Julia Stiles, who plays the journalist interviewing the dancers in the film, was completely missing from the campaign prior to release but finally got at least one interview about her role.

The movie was the latest for which Entertainment Weekly created an exclusive Snapchat and Facebook lens.

There was lots – LOTS – of coverage devoted to how the filmmakers got Usher to make a cameo appearance as himself. Also getting plenty of notice was the attention paid to the music.

A professional stripper who served as a consultant on the film to keep things authentic was interviewed about her efforts. Meanwhile, Scafaria praised the performances of Cardi B and Lizzo and talked about how she approached framing the story.

Lopez made headlines and grabbed attention for hitting Versace’s runway wearing an updated version of her iconic green dress from 2000.

The movie came under fire for apparently not paying for the life rights to Samantha Barbas, the women who served as the inspiration for Ramona, Lopez’s character, but it’s not clear they needed that release.

Scafaria wrote a glowing appreciation of Lopez, praising her work ethic and talent.

Interesting examination of how STX went deep into audience data and habits to help give the movie a fighting chance at the box office. Along the same lines is a look at the partnership between the movie and Fandango.

Later on Scafaria shared a sizzle reel of compiled scenes she says inspired her and helped her land her job.

There’s another interview with Scafaria about the work she put into just trying to get the movie approved, much less made.

Poms – Marketing Recap

poms poster 2Diane Keaton continues her tour of movies involving older women refusing to go gently into that good night with this week’s Poms. In the movie she stars as Martha, a woman who is being reluctantly sent by her family to live in a posh retirement community, the kind of place that offers plenty of activities and amenities but which she sees as simply a place to go and die.

Once there she meets the other still-feisty residents. When one of them uncovers that Martha used to be a cheerleader the group decides that may just be the activity they need to keep them active and engaged. So they set out to practice, enlisting the aid of a younger woman named Paige (Alexandra Ficken) to coach them and get them ready to actually compete.

The Posters

poms posterA white-haired cheerleader is shown in close up from behind on the first poster, the rest of the squad in the distance closer to the crowd watching their routine. While no faces are shown, the cast list is shown at the top. The biggest value proposition, though, is offered in the copy explaining the movie comes from the same studio that produced Bad Moms and one of the producers of Book Club, which also starred Keaton.

Everyone is actually shown on the theatrical poster, though some of their faces are clearly Photoshopped onto other bodies. It’s the same basic scene, with all the women decked out in their cheerleading gear and standing on the performance floor soaking in the attention and applause of the crowd. The same previous credits are shown and both posters feature copy promising “It’s never too late to chase a dream.”

The Trailers

Martha isn’t thrilled to be entering retirement home living in the first trailer, even if there is tennis and other activities. She meets some of the other women there and the group sets out to start a cheerleading squad for the community, not for anyone else but just as an affirmation of vitality for themselves. They recruit a younger woman to help with choreography but suffer some setbacks because of their advanced age, overcoming everything to make one last run at dancing and enjoying life.

Online and Social

You’ll find all the usual information about the movie on its official website, including links to buy tickets and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV advertising started at the end of last month with a spot that featured the same beats as the trailer, only in condensed form. Another longer commercial came out a bit later that expanded that somewhat.

Promotional partners for the movie included:

  • Princess Cruises, which ran a sweepstakes offering the chance to win a trip for four on one of their boats.
  • E-Z Go, though details on the deal weren’t easily found. Still, it makes sense for an electric golf cart company to partner with a movie set in a retirement community.
  • 24-Hour Fitness, with the same situation in place.
  • Red Hat Society, which promoted the movie on its website.

Media and Publicity

STX appears to have enlisted cheer squads in select cities along with others to enjoy early screenings in an attempt to get word of mouth started with a relevant audience.

Keaton made appearances on “Ellen,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and elsewhere. She also did various interviews, as did other members of the cast, most of whom spoke at the movie’s premiere about the continued need for stories featuring casts of all ages, including older women.


It’s a nice little campaign that is never meant to be anything more than it is, a theatrical alternative for audiences who have zero interest in super heroes, endgames, video game characters and other “franchise” offerings from the studios. It uses the charm of Keaton and the other members of the cast to reach that audience in a way that shows it’s a pleasant, inoffensive and life-affirming story free of special effects and drama but filled with moments to cry over and rally around.

Picking Up the Spare

TV advertising finally started just days prior to release, with a number of spots focusing on the warmth and gentle humor of the movie. 

Weaver was profiled while Perlman showed up on late night talk shows. Keaton also received a substantial profile that let her talk about where she is in her career. 

UglyDolls – Marketing Recap

uglydolls poster19The popular brand of plush and plastic toys comes to the big screen in this week’s UglyDolls. In the movie the UglyDolls are basically factory defects who find themselves all sent to the same place where they establish a society that celebrates differences, embraces imperfections and allows everyone to feel important.

One day Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) decides to venture outside of the city and finds the town of Perfection, where all the toys are perfect and where no variance from the norm is allowed. The residents of Perfection have no problem finding children to love them because they’re perfect, where as the UglyDolls struggle because of how they look.

The Posters

“Things are about to get ugly” we’re warned on the teaser poster, which features the main characters standing top of the title treatment. A bit more of the story is at least hinted at on the next poster, which has them standing with their backs to the camera as they look up at an arch with “Institute of Perfection” etched into it. We get a plush doll pun in the form of “Sew it begins.”

One set of characters features each of the Uglys against a brightly colored backdrop, with their name as well as the name of the star providing its voice prominently displayed. This encouraged audiences to “Show ‘em what you’re made of.”

The second set of character posters takes a different approach, promising audiences the movie is “The movie musical event of the year,” a key message adopted in the campaign as a whole because of the pedigree of the voice cast.

All the main characters are assembled on the theatrical poster in mostly the same poses they take on their individual one-sheets, meaning it’s just a drag-and-drop design job on display here.

The Trailers

The first trailer came out in November of last year and was focused primarily on making sure everyone knew the movie featured an all star voice lineup. Introductions to some of the characters as well as the world the characters inhabit are offered as well, but it’s mainly about the music, only offering a look at Perfection at the very end. That emphasis on the music was reinforced when a “Sing Along” version of the trailer was released a short while later.

The second trailer from March sets up an Island of Misfit Toys situation, with Uglyville being where those toys who are imperfect are sent to live and revel in their status. Moxie, we see, still believes she’ll find a kid to love her and sets out to lead a group of others on a journey to the “Big World.” The residents of Perfection are less than welcoming, though, even as Moxie tells everyone their flaws are what makes them unique and wonderful.

Later that month the final trailer was released that focused on the world of Perfection and the flawless toys who live there. The UglyDolls refuse to be put down, though, once more making it clear that “broken is beautiful” and they can be wonderful in their own way. One more short trailer from just a week ago ignores the story entirely and just sells the movie as a big musical good time for anyone who might be feeling judged because they’re different.

Online and Social

In addition to the usual collection of marketing materials, the movie’s official website has sections for you to “Meet the UglyDolls” where visitors can find out more and an area with online activities for the younger audiences to enjoy.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A 30-second commercial was aired during the “Puppy Bowl” broadcast in March. National Pancake Day was celebrated with a short video showing you how to make character-shaped pancakes. Another commercial promised the movie would be the “biggest musical event of doll-time.”

A short TV-spot like video was featured in a Promoted Tweet in mid-April.

Partners for the movie included:

  • Little, Brown, which published a series of tie-in books featuring the various characters.
  • The Ad Council, which used the characters in a cobranded commercial encouraging parents to make sure they’ve installed their infant car seats correctly.
  • Hybrid Apparel, though there’s nothing about the partnership on the company’s site. Presumably it added movie-themed merchandise to its offerings.
  • Cold Stone Creamery, which added two character-themed flavors to its menu.
  • Hardees/Carl’s Jr., which added movie-based items to its kids meals.
  • Pinkberry, which added a character-themed recipe to its menu and ran a sweepstakes awarding tickets to see the movie.
  • Original Sprout, which ran a sweepstakes awarding a movie prize pack.

All sorts of additional commercials came out in the last two weeks that keep presenting the colorful, inspiring message of the movie.

Media and Publicity

All the characters were introduced in a promotional video that tied each one to the musician/actor providing their voice.

The prospects for the movie were so high that months before it came out STX Entertainment revealed a deal with China’s Alibaba to expand the brand in other media and products.

After being featured prominently in all the trailer and commercials, Clarkson’s “Broken & Beautiful” got an official video released in March that had the movie’s characters bouncing around with the lyrics to the song. A bit later on Clarkson performed that song as part of STX’s presentation to exhibitors and others at CinemaCon and then again on “The Tonight Show.”

Featurettes focused on the recording of “Broken and Beautiful” by Clarkson and “The Ugly Truth” by Joe Jonas. STX also released a sizzle reel of highlights from the movie’s “felt carpet” premiere. That event also allowed the other music acts and stars featured in the movie to talk about what brought them on board the project.

The story of how a relatively obscure speciality toy brand came to the big screen was covered here.

Clarkson was interviewed about this being her return to movies after some less-than-stellar early attempts.


I hope there’s some sort of decent, affirming message in the movie as a whole because what’s on display in the campaign isn’t great. Basically it shows the UglyDolls are relegated to what amounts to a segregated community because that’s the only place they can be free from the judgement of the perfect people without defects or flaws. That’s…not a great message.

Aside from that, the campaign works so hard to sell this as a big musical adventure it’s questionable if there’s even a script. With a voice cast pulled from the ranks of top musical talent that’s not hugely surprising, but the studio is working hard to recreate the magic of what happened a couple years ago with Trolls and Justin Timberlake’s breakout hit from that soundtrack. Not sure if it’s going to pay off as the pitch here is a bit muddled and there may not be a clearly defined audience for this one.

Picking Up the Spare

Monae talked more about her character and the movie’s story here. 

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.

The Upside – Marketing Recap

the upside posterKevin Hart departs from his usual brand of comedy – one that involves him making a lot of short jokes and acting nervously hyper – to costar in The Upside along with Bryan Cranston. Hart plays Dell, a former convict who is trying to find work and turn his life around.

An opportunity arises when he becomes the personal assistant to Philip (Cranston), a quadriplegic who hires Dell to help him move through the world. Unlike Dell, Philip is extremely wealthy and has the means to do so. The clash between the two eventually gives way to something more friendly as they each see value in the lessons they other has to offer.

The Posters

One of the first bits of promotional imagery was repurposed for the first poster, with Hart riding on the back of Cranston’s wheelchair. There’s not much more to say about it as the main point here is just to show the very basic notion of the relationship between the two characters while offering no other information about the story.

The Trailers

Dell is having trouble finding work in the first trailer, eventually happening across a position as the physical aid for a wealthy quadriplegic. He’s wholly unqualified, but gets the job anyway, learning what kind of help Phillip needs on a daily basis and enjoying the benefits of the lifestyle he’s found himself in the middle of. They bond and find that, beyond the physical needs, the two have a lot to offer each other in the form of new emotions, new experiences and more.

There’s a tendency here to play up some of Hart’s more comedic moments so as to show this isn’t a complete departure from the kind of movie he’s best known for. Overall, though, there’s a superficial and not all that intriguing story being sold here that seems to play into some notable cliches and tropes.

Online and Social

Only a small amount of content and information about the movie is offered on its official website, just the trailer and a synopsis. There were also Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles created by STX. On Twitter in particular the studio shared some funny GIFs and clips to help tie to the movie to Hart’s brand of humor.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The first paid effort was a promoted Tweet that used a short video to sell the movie to the public. A couple TV spots followed closer to release that focused on the friendship between the two characters and one on the working dynamic they share. Short videos were also used as pre-roll spots.

Media and Publicity

Originally titled The Intouchables it was later renamed to be, as with other such movies, as boring and generic as possible. The Weinstein Co. took the movie to the Toronto International Film Festival, where it accumulated some decent reviews that praised the chemistry between Hart and Cranston. It was there that the Weinsteins announced they would do some schedule changing to release it in time to qualify for this year’s awards season, with a wider release coming months later.

Unfortunately it was subsequently pulled from the release schedule completely due to all the drama within TWC as well as the fact that TWC always pulls every movie from release at some point because it doesn’t have the capital to support it. It was eventually picked up by STX Entertainment, partnering with Lantern to save the movie from oblivion.

The announcement that Hart would host this year’s Academy Awards ceremony gave the movie a nice conversational bump, even if the broadcast itself won’t be for a month after it opens. Much of that was undone in the following 24 hours, though, as people took him to task for old homophobic Tweets, leading him to drop out as host, only apologizing for what he’d said after the fact.

Hart and Cranston each spoke in a featurette where they talked about working with each other and telling a true story like this. Director Neil Burger appeared in another where he talked about the divide the characters must cross to relate to each other.

A couple interviews with Cranston had him focusing on playing a character with disabilities, something that other actors have recently come under fire for. His response to that, unfortunately, isn’t great and only served to pour gasoline on the fire.


Any and all stories about how this might be a contender to dethrone Aquaman from the top of the box office are ridiculous. Even if it weren’t the case that the movie had been collecting dust for over a year because of unrelated problems it just gives off the vibe of being a project no one should be thrilled with, the very definition of the cast-off January release. It features actors who are better than the material in roles that are rooted in terrible stereotypes, all supported by a marketing campaign that isn’t sure what kind of movie its selling.

Picking Up the Spare

A new clip and TV spot were released in the days leading up to the movie hitting theaters. More commercials like this came later that touted the movie’s status at the top of the box-office following opening weekend.

Hart also finally made some media appearances, but a lot of that was dominated by the ongoing conversation about whether or not he was hosting the Oscars and what kind of opinions he had on people. Cranston did likewise.

Great piece by Variety’s Rebecca Rubin on the ways the filmmakers turned things around and managed to overcome the disadvantages the movie faced.

Interesting details here on how STXfilms used targeted advertising to run a paid campaign contingent on guaranteed ticket sales and ad effectiveness.

Peppermint – Marketing Recap

Jennifer Garner stars in PEPPERMINT, a movie about a mother seeking revenge for the death of her family. Here’s how the campaign was presented to the audience.

peppermint posterThe revenge movie genre took a beating earlier this year with the Eli Roth-helmed Death Wish. It received poor reviews, didn’t do well with audiences, and was fronted by a marketing campaign that sold it as a tone deaf “white man is angry so that justifies him killing a bunch of people” fantasy.

STX Films is hoping this week’s Peppermint is less The Happytime Murders and more Bad Moms when it comes to scoring at the box office. The studio has had a rough year, with none of its releases topping $50 million in domestic revenue, it could use a breakout hit.

The movie stars Jennifer Garner as a woman who disappears for years following the assassination of her daughter and husband. When she returns she has the skills and weapons necessary to take justice into her own hands, seeking those responsible for the killings. Law enforcement isn’t thrilled with her actions while the general public sees her doing what others can’t.

The Posters

Garner stands against a wall featuring wings made from red bullets on the poster, positioning her clearly as the violent, avenging angel of death. With its muted tones and rough appearance, the message is being sent she will be operating on the streets, taking her fight to the cirminals. All that is reinforced with the copy “The system failed. She won’t.”

The Trailers

Just like with literally every other movie about a parent seeking revenge after the death of their family, the trailer starts with shots of the whole family enjoying happy, wonderful times together. All that comes crashing down when a group of gunmen shoot up the carnival they’re at one night, gunmen that are apparently linked to a drug cartel, a representative of which tries to pressure Riley to unremember what she saw. After the justice system fails her, Riley disappears but then reemerges as a violent, highly-trained vigilante out to take down the system that failed her and protect other innocent people.

Advertising and Publicity

As release drew closer, promoted Tweets like this and others started appearing.

STX created a Facebook AR lens that added wings like those found on the movie’s poster to a short video. That lens was showcased at the film’s premiere the first weekend of September, with videos posted of it being applied to the cast as they walked the red carpet.

Online and Social

The official website doesn’t have a ton of information, but does sport the trailer, a story synopsis and information on the Facebook AR lens. There are also links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Media and Publicity

Before any real marketing or publicity had started for the movie it was part of STX’s CinemaCon presentation, which included an appearance by Garner.

The actress was interviewed by People about how she got into shape for all the action sequences in the movie.

Garner hasn’t been missing from the press for the last couple weeks, but almost every story she’s part of is either about her kids, her efforts to get Ben Affleck into rehab or something else about her personal life. I can’t find a single interview with her that’s about the movie, which says something about our sexist media lens.

That changed somewhat when she stopped by both “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night” in the last few days before release.

Garner and others involved in the filmmaking process were interviewed in an official featurette where they talked about the story, making the movie and more. There was also a clip released showing Garner in full revenge mode taking out bad guys and declaring in no uncertain terms that she wants justice for what was done to her.


The biggest hurdle the campaign seems to have to overcome – in addition to late summer audience antipathy – is that movies about female revenge stories are a tough sell. The most successful example recently is Mad Max: Fury Road, but smaller movies like In the Fade and others haven’t done much to spark buzz or other interest.

The campaign may not be one that’s going to surmount either one, but it does effectively tell the story of the movie, perhaps a bit too well.


More here on how Jennifer Garner trained for her role in the action revenge flick.

Another interview with director Pierre Morel about how he came to be involved with the project and what it was like to work with Garner.

Apparently Garner tried to surprise fans at a screening but it didn’t go well.

The Happytime Murders – Marketing Recap

happytime murders posterThe marketing for The Happytime Murders, which tells the story of puppets and humans living together and working together to solve crimes, is recapped at The Hollywood Reporter. Suffice it to say this does not look great.

Online and Social

There’s not much going on over at the movie’s official website, which just offers the basics including a “Trailer,” the “Story” and the ability to get tickets. There were also links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Media and Publicity

After the first trailer and poster were released STX was sued by Sesame Workshop, the owners of the “Sesame Street” brand, over the tagline “No sesame. All street,” which they claimed infringed on their trademark. The studio responded by pointing out that Brian Henson – Jim Henson’s son – is involved with the movie and a division of The Jim Henson Company is among the movie’s producers, which may not be a solid legal argument but is mainly aimed at attaching some corporate goodwill to the film. A judge quickly ruled in favor of STX.

Last week, writer Todd Berger finally addressed the elephant in the room, talking about how he was indeed inspired by Meet the Feebles, Peter Jackson’s cult hit from years and years ago that mined similar territory.


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

Adrift – Marketing Recap

adrift poster 2Based on a true story, the new movie Adrift features an amalgamation of a few different film genres and types. Tami (Shailene Woodley) is on vacation in Tahiti with friends and meets Richard (Sam Claflin), a sailor who loves the open water. The two spend more and more time together and when he’s offered the chance to sail someone’s boat back to California, she joins him, figuring it will be a wonderful and romantic time.

Things take a turn when they unexpectedly encounter a massive hurricane that almost destroys their small boat. Richard is injured, the boat’s mast is broken and they don’t have navigational instruments, meaning they’re largely dead in the water. Tami, though, patches the boat and gets them on a course that will hopefully lead them right to Hawaii, where they can be rescued. That’s an awful lot of “ifs,” though.

The Posters

That the movie takes place on the open water of the sea and that it’s based on a true story are the two primary messages of the first teaser poster. In fact the only additional shared here are the title and the names of the two leads, so the hope is that people will be lured in by the promise of some seafaring drama. The second brings the two leads more into focus, showing them at the top with their foreheads touching while at the bottom we see their crippled boat in the middle of the water, her looking out at the horizon for any sign of help.

The Trailers

Tami and Richard meet cute at the beginning of the trailer, he attracted to her free spirit and looks and her attracted to his free spirit and looks. When he accepts a job to sail someone’s boat back to California from Tahiti (it’s a magical place) he invites her along and she accepts, despite the unknowns of being at sea that long. When disaster strikes and they’re caught in the middle of a massive hurricane they’re left adrift (natch) with almost no way to navigate and no power, thousands of miles from anywhere. With Richard injured it’s up to Tami to keep them going toward a slim hope at survival.

There’s some good stuff in here and it certainly looks both dramatic and romantic, which is the point. You could make a joke about Claflin really owning the niche of “romantic lead unable to move” but I won’t. It is cool to see a story where the woman is the one who refuses to give up, though, and keeps doing what needs to be done to make it to the next step.

We skip some of the setup in the next trailer and get right to when Tami and Richard are already in a relationship, eventually agreeing to sail a man’s boat back to California. That quickly transitions to an extended look at the massive, hurricane-induced wave that capsized the boat and sets them adrift, injuring him and forcing her to work to keep the two of them alive until they can reach shore or be rescued. This one does away with much of the story and gets right to the dramatic struggle between life and death that provides, it seems, much of the movie’s drama.

Online and Social

When you load the movie’s official website you have the immediate option of watching the second trailer. After that plays the splash page has full-motion video in the background, a big button encouraging you to buy tickets and links to the film’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

The content of the site, accessible via the menu at the top of the page, is pretty standard. “Trailers” has both of the trailers, “Story” has a decent synopsis and cast/crew list and “Gallery” has a decent collection of photos both from the movie and its production.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There were quite a number of TV commercials produced, some short ones that skipped right to the hurricane action, some short ones that focused more on the love story and adventure of sailing.

The movie was one of the first to be advertised via Snapchat’s recently-unveiled unskippable six-second video ad units.

Media and Publicity

After being homeless for a while STX finally gave the movie a release date of early June, filling a whole left when Fox moved Deadpool 2. It was later part of the studio’s presentation to industry executives at CinemaCon.

Woodley later appeared on the late night talk show circuit to talk about the movie, specifically about the experience of filming on the water for such a long time, including getting seasick as a crew. She, Claflin and director Baltasar Kormakur all talked about the real life story and what it was like making the movie at the premiere. Kormakur was later interviewed on his own about many of the same topics.


As I said at the outset, there are bits and pieces of several different genres coming together here. It’s very much a romance of the Nicholas Sparks variety, about two people who just happen to find each other while in a place they wouldn’t usually be. But it’s also a story of survival against nature in the vein of The Perfect Storm or, more recently, All Is Lost. That’s not a knock against it, just an observation of what’s going on.

Aside from the likability of its stars, the main thing the movie seems to have going for it is that it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t pop up very often anymore. Yes, it’s a romance but it’s not nearly as cloy or cliched as many movies that fall into that category. By telling a story of a young woman’s ability to take charge and get her and man she’s with out of danger it seems to be sending the message that yes, you can have it all, ladies. That’s a good thing and an important theme to hit as often as possible.

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


New interviews with both star Shailene Woodley and director Baltasar Kormákur offer insights into the story and process of making the movie, though the latter contains significant spoilers so beware.

I Feel Pretty – Marketing Recap

i feel pretty posterRenee Bennett (Amy Schumer) is a woman who struggles with serious low self-esteem in the new movie I Feel Pretty. She’s got a few friends but is always comparing herself against society’s picturesque ideal of what female beauty should be and feeling she falls short of that is seen less than welcome on the dating scene and elsewhere.

One day Renee has an accident at spin class and suffers a rather severe brain injury. She remembers who she is but thinks that all of a sudden she looks like a high fashion model. Suddenly she’s more confident at work, with the guys she’s interested in dating and more. How long with this delusion last? And what happens when Renee’s perceptions go back to normal?

More importantly, is this a story that says women have to be delusional to think that anyone who’s not a 5’10”” 102 pound blonde can be considered pretty? Or is it a commentary on how society and media set unrealistic standards for women to attain? Let’s see if the campaign answers any of that.

Continue reading “I Feel Pretty – Marketing Recap”