The Hummingbird Project – Marketing Recap

hummingbird project posterThe cutthroat world of high-end finance and securities training is the setting for The Hummingbird Project. Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård as investor brothers who are angling for any advantage over their competitors. Like everyone else in the industry they know that with automated electronic trading the dominant tactic, shaving fractions of a second off the receipt of information to make those trades can mean a difference of millions of dollars, if not more.

So they set out to create a high-speed fiber connection between a major junction in the Pacific Ocean and their East Coast operations that’s straighter and therefore more fast, by a couple hundreths of a second. Their project gets the attention of their rival, played by Salma Hayek, who sets out to quash their efforts and stop them from gaining an advantage.

The Posters

The three main characters are shown on the one-sheet standing on the single element still connecting two frayed ends of a split wire, showing the tenuous nature of the ground they’re operating on. “Everything is on the line” is the copy that conveys the story’s stakes.

The Trailers

Vincent and Anton want to demolish everything in the way of them creating a straighter, faster connection to financial information in the first trailer. That connection will allow them to get data a millisecond faster than competitors, which has implications adding up to millions of dollars a year. They set out to grab the land rights for that connection but face competition from Torres, who wants that money for herself. It’s a fun, tight trailer that sells a story of boundless ambition that’s occasionally derailed by physical or legal realities.

Online and Social

There’s really only the usual content on the movie’s official website, offering visitors the trailer, a synopsis and so on. A minimal effort on display here along with links to profiles on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing here that I’ve seen.

Media and Publicity

A screening at the Toronto Film Festival generated good reviews, with the movie being picked up by The Orchard.

In the last week or so before release The Orchard has put out a series of clips, including one that was shared exclusively by Moviefone and one that was exclusive to The Playlist.

Eisenberg made appearances on late night and morning talk shows to bring some attention to the film. He was also profiled in pieces like this but those interviews often mentioned several other projects the actor has in the works as well. Skarsgård, meanwhile, was promoting another movie he has coming out this week. There was also a substantial profile of Hayek where she talked about this movie and various other topics.

The studio raised some eyebrows among critics when they sent out real chainsaws as promotional items, relevant since the movie is about how the brothers are willing to cut down trees to build their information pipeline. While contextually appropriate, that’s also a substantial item to send to people and one that’s not going to be immediately useful to a lot of people.


I feel there might be a pretty decent movie and interesting story hiding behind a campaign that could use a little more juice. While the trailer and poster are interesting, the whole push is a little dry, lacking a solid hook for the audience. It’s almost as if there’s a bit too much story that’s being included in the marketing to distill the message down to a single, compelling idea for the audience to latch on to.

State Like Sleep – Marketing Recap

state like sleep posterIn this week’s State Like Sleep, Katherine Waterston plays a woman who has had enough of not knowing the truth about how her husband died a year ago. She’s moved on but a mysterious phone call brings her back to Brussels, where he died under mysterious circumstances.

When she gets there she becomes involved in a shady underworld that may or may not have the answers she’s looking for, uncovering the secret double life her husband appears to have lead. Central to all this is Edward (Michael Shannon), who may be out to help her or hinder her investigation.

The Posters

The first and only poster featured a pretty standard design, with the head of Shannon looking in one direction and placed within the hair of Waterston, who’s looking in the other. It’s a basic way to present a story of two people at odds of some sort.

The Trailers

It’s a noir thriller being sold in the first trailer. Katherine is still reeling from the death of her husband a year ago and continues to be a person of interest to those investigating that death. She’s driven to once more look into what exactly happened since she herself isn’t sure. Her search for answers brings her into contact with Edward, who seems to have secrets of his own, but also means she has to confront some realities about her late husband she may not be ready to face.

Online and Social

No official social or online presence for the movie but it did receive some support from The Orchard on the company’s brand channels.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions


Media and Publicity

The movie had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, where the cast and crew talked about the story, working together and more. The Orchard picked up distribution rights toward the end of the festival.

Just before release the studio put out a clip featuring Waterston and Shannon. The actor, along with writer/director Meredith Dunlack, did a joint interview about the characters and story.


It’s understandable that the movie didn’t receive a massive campaign, but this one barely scratches the surface. There’s some good stuff here, it’s just that there isn’t enough to really give the audience a lot to latch on to. The mystery of the story is the big draw along with Shannon, who’s always a significant on-screen presence.

All About Nina – Marketing Recap

all about nina posterNina (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is trying to escape personal and professional turmoil in the new movie All About Nina, opening this week. She’s an up and coming comic who’s known for entertaining crowds with her provocative and personal set but a bad breakup and general dissatisfaction with her life in New York has her heading out west to try and make it in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately she brings those troubles with her on the move. While things continue to go well for her career, personal relationships are still a mess, even her new romance with Rafe (Common), a well-meaning and overly-honest guy she can’t bring herself to fully trust. When outside factors play on that as well, Nina has to figure out how willing she is to commit to trying to have it all.

The Posters

Winstead and Common are shown at the top of the poster, him looking her but her looking at the camera to show in some way the different levels they’re at in their relationship. Below that is an arty shot of Nina doing her standup routine, a single spotlight showing her holding the mic. “Get your act together” reads the copy at the top, a nice way to address both aspects of Nina’s life that are covered in the story.

The Trailers

Nina is working hard to make it as a comic in the trailer, mining her dating life for material and then moving to LA to try and kick her career to a new level. She meets Rafe, who is overly honest with her on just about everything. The two begin a relationship as she gets her big shot on stage, but her past and her attitude catch up with her and cause problems for both endeavors.

Online and Social

The Orchard isn’t usually known for its extensive websites, but the official site for this movie isn’t bad. There’s nothing all that innovative about it, there’s just the trailer, a synopsis and a few other bits of material along with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram links, but that’s more than the studio usually offers.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen.

Media and Publicity

The movie had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Months later it was picked up for distribution by The Orchard. It later screened at the LA Film Festival.

That’s actually about it. A few sites got some exclusives clips, but I don’t see much of anything like interviews or other features with Winstead, Common or writer/director Eva Vives.


If there were a stronger publicity element here I’d feel it was a lot stronger effort. The trailer shows a great performance by Winstead, and her turn has been the focus of much of the conversation coming out of festivals. But there doesn’t seem to have been more of an effort to let everyone else know about it, which is too bad.

Picking Up the Spare

Director Eva Vives was interviewed about how the character of Nina is justified in her anger and hurt and how she wanted to tell a story about the reality that underlies a woman’s pain. Instead hit similar themes in this interview as well.

Instead talked more frequently about how she seems to attract roles about women with difficult pasts and what kinds of scenes were toughest to shoot.

Exclusive screenings in New York and Los Angeles were arranged to support survivors of sexual abuse.

Another great feature interview with Winstead here.

American Animals – Marketing Recap

american animals posterIt’s odd that one of the most notorious heists in American history should involve something as prosaic as a book about birds, but here we are. American Animals tells the story of four young men in suburban Pennsylvania who are apathetic about their lives and uncertain about their future and so decide to spice things up and add some adventure to their existence.

To do so they decide to steal an incredibly rare book from the collection of nearby Transylvania University. They’re not exactly criminal masterminds, though, and so turn to their knowledge of heist movies to help fill in the gaps in their knowledge. Executing the plan is filled with luck both good and bad, but nothing is going to deter this group of would-be thieves from adding some meaning to their bland, uneventful lives.

The Posters

The first poster, released while the film was still at Sundance, looks like one piece of paper has been torn in half and laid over another. The bottom half has a photo of four guys in suits, a couple of them carrying bags, walking toward the camera. It looks like any other crime action drama. But then a ripped piece of paper is laid over the top that replaces their heads with masks of various animals, which makes literal the title that appears just above the image. So clearly it’s trying to convey something fresh and possibly disturbing to the audience as opposed to yet another mildly entertaining heist film.

Two more posters take slightly different approaches while using similar elements. On both there’s a group of faceless individuals wearing trench coats and carrying guns walking toward the camera and on both there’s a drawing of a pelican, hinting at the aviary nature of the book that’s being stolen by these thieves. Aside from some different design choices, the main difference is in the copy. One reads “The perfect heist is a work of fiction” while the other features “You don’t know where the line is until you cross it.”

The Trailers

Spencer is bored and feeling like he’s on the edge of something monumental in the trailer, which opens by showing us a mix of craziness and tedium. Warren wants to recruit him into some sort of scheme but isn’t forthcoming with the details. It turns out, a group of friends wants to steal a priceless book from a library, presumably to fence it but also just for the adventure. Everyone just wants to feel something, some kind of rush, and this is a way to do that.

What’s being sold here is kind of an absurd action comedy. The title cards make it clear that the events depicted actually happened, but the overly dramatic closing of car doors and other small moments show plenty of liberties have been taken with the story as well. It looks mildly insane but also gripping and compelling, making it easy to see what the festival buzz was all about.

There’s a bit less focus on Spencer in the later “online exclusive” trailer. The same basic story is sold here, though, one about a group of guys who are so uninterested with the current trajectory of their lives that they decide stealing a rare book is the only way to feel something. We see the same outlines of the planning and preparation for the heist, though this one is more about the dynamics between the group than the kind of ridiculous lengths they go to in advance of the theft.

Online and Social

There isn’t much happening on the movie’s official website, just a “Synopsis,” a “Videos” section with the trailers and a featurette as well as plenty of prompts to buy tickets. There are links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles on the front page.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Some online ads might have been run but I haven’t seen any TV spots or other paid efforts.

Media and Publicity

The movie was one that received a good amount of conversation and buzz when it screened at the Sundance Film Festival. That only got more intense when it was acquired by a partnership of The Orchard and MoviePass, the latter making its first purchase after launching a new division for just that purpose. After that it was also screened at the SXSW Film Festival. Because of the ups-and-downs MoviePass has had over the last few months it was natural that features like this would pop up examining the company’s financial stake in the movie and what its fortunes meant for the fate of the movie.

There were a few features about the real life guys who inspired the story and who were part of the publicity tour, but nothing that seemed to amount to a particularly notable part of the overall push.


I just kind of wish the publicity push had the same vigor and sizzle as the trailers, which give off a decent vibe of energy. There’s some good material that’s on display in those trailers, which sell an unconventional caper flick, though one that is as implausible as they come. That the same energy wasn’t carried over throughout the campaign and expanded into other media is disappointing.


The narrative that’s emerging of how MoviePass, which partnered to release the film as its first move into film distribution, helped the film succeed is that it used its own platform to heavily promote the film, utilizing the user data it has to target ads. If I’m *any* other distributor right now I’m pretty honked off.

Both the cast and crew and the real people the actors are playing are interviewed here about the blurring of fact and fiction in the movie.

Duck Butter – Marketing Recap

duck butter posterWhen Sergio (Laia Costa) and Niama (Alia Shawkat) in the new movie Duck Butter they hit it off very quickly. Each, though, is dissatisfied with the state of dating and is tired of relationship BS and doesn’t really want to go through all that nonsense again, feeling like it only leads to something half-hearted. They want the passion, not the fake niceties.

So they decide to partake in an experiment: They’re going to spend 24 hours in their own little bubble to break past the facades that are usually erected and start their relationship off on a “real” note, if such a thing is possible. If it turns out they can’t hack it, they call it quits. If they can, they keep things going.

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Flower – Marketing Recap

flower posterErica (Zoey Deutch) isn’t thrilled with the fact her mother Lauren (Kathryn Hahn) is having her boyfriend Tim (Tim Heidecker) move in with them in the new movie Flower. Even less exciting is that Tim’s son Luke (Joey Morgan) is joining them, straight from a stint in a rehab. Things get more interesting when it comes out that Luke has accused a former teacher (Adam Scott) of sexual abuse.

That prompts Erica and her friends to see if they can expose the man they believe to be a pervert and abuser. The way they do so, though, means they’re putting themselves into potentially compromising situations and certainly going outside the law. Convinced that they’re doing what the law won’t – or can’t – they continue on their vigilante mission.

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