The World To Come – Marketing Recap

How Bleecker Street is selling a 19th century love story.

Based on the book of the same name by Jim Shepard, The World To Come stars Katherine Waterston as Abigail, who’s married to Dyer (Casey Affleck), the two of them carving out a hard living on a 19th century east coast farm. They are not exactly happily married, but the distance between them grows greater with the arrival of Finney (Christopher Abbott) and his wife Tallie (Vanessa Kirby). Specifically, the supportive friendship between Abigail and Tallie soon turns passionately romantic as they seek solace from their respective loveless marriages.

Directed by Mona Fastvold from a screenplay by Ron Hansen, Jim Shepard, the movie has a decent 72% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and has gotten a campaign emphasizing the hopeful but doomed romance between the two women.

The Posters

Released in mid-January, the one poster (by marketing agency The Refinery) takes a common design – three vertical strips with a single photo in each one – and actually uses it to good effect. Dyer and Finney are at the top and bottom while Tallie and Abigail are placed in the middle, literally pushing their husbands away from them. The fire engulfing a house behind the two women hints at a tragic outcome to the story while the dark colors convey the relentless dreariness that makes up the lives of the characters.

The Trailers

Bleecker Street released the first trailer (1m views on YouTube) in mid-January. It starts out with a lot of sheep on Abigail and Dyer’s bleak farm. Abigail’s life is improved by the arrival of their new neighbor Tallie and her husband Finney, with the two women growing closer and closer over time, a romance born of the hardships each endures in their respective marriages. That change does not go unnoticed, and problems soon follow as the women seek to be happy with each other instead of miserable elsewhere.

Online and Social

The full-screen video on the movie’s official website uses bits from the trailer, but the content on the site is minimal. There are links to where the film will be available to download and rent along with the trailer, a synopsis and not much else.

Advertising and Promotions

The movie debuted at the 2020 Venice Film Festival, where it accumulated a number of positive reviews and good word of mouth. Bleecker Street acquired the film shortly after that premiere.

The movie was among those scheduled to screen at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

A clip came out during Sundance showing the moment when Abigail and Tallie first meet. Another shows a climactic moment between the two women as they discuss their relationship.

Media and Press

A profile of Kirby from early September included this as one of a couple highly-anticipated projects she was involved in. A few months later Waterston talked about crafting and filming an LGBTQ love story.

During the Sundance press cycle there were interviews with the film’s director of photography, director and editor.

Affleck appeared on “Late Night” to talk about filming the movie in Romania. There was also a joint video interview by GLAAD of both Waterston and Kirby.

Additional interviews with Waterston had her talking about working with Kirby and telling a story set so long ago and trying to make it relevant to the present.

Overall

The performances by Waterston and Kirby are the standout elements of the campaign here, with the chemistry between the two driving the drama that’s on display. It’s good that they provide such heat, too, because the rest of the marketing is very grey and cold, which could turn off some of the audience who might feel it’s a bit too drab for their liking.

Between this and the recent Ammonite, though, we have a small trend building of forbidden lesbian romance period pieces. I’m not sure what that means, especially if there’s something about setting the story a century or more in the past that makes the story more dramatic. Whatever the case, Bleecker Street’s campaign highlights the positive reviews the movie has received so far while selling a story filled with tension and romance.

Pieces of a Woman – Marketing Recap

How Netflix has sold a story of parental grief.

In Pieces of a Woman, written by Kata Wéber and directed by Kornél Mundruczó, Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf play Martha and Sean, a young married couple who experience a terrible tragedy during the birth of their first child. The story follows the two – especially Martha – over the course of the ensuing year as she works through the grief of the event as well as the other related emotions that come with it. The movie also stars Ellen Burstyn as Martha’s mother, whose overbearing nature complicates the situation.

Netflix has been selling the film as a prestige piece, especially focusing on Kirby’s performance in part because LaBeouf has once again become a toxic persona. Generally positive reviews have given the film a 78% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so let’s take a look at the campaign as a whole.

The Posters

Kirby’s Martha fronts the movie’s one poster (by marketing agency P+A), released in mid-November. The photo is of her looking longingly at something off-camera, but it’s enough to convey the general idea that the movie will be an emotional one with Martha as the main character. tw

The Trailers

The first and only trailer (1.7 million views on YouTube) came out in mid-November and starts with Martha and Sean preparing for the arrival of their much-anticipated child, which we quickly see dies during birth. That understandably rocks Martha, who is exploring who she can legally blame for her loss, ultimately going to court to testify against the midwife she holds responsible. Alongside all of that, she clashes with her mother, husband and others as she seeks to direct her grief in some useful direction.

Online and Social

Not only wasn’t there a standalone site for the film, which isn’t unusual for Netflix releases, but it seems there also weren’t social profiles set up either. It did get some support on Netflix’s brand channels, though.

Advertising and Promotions

The movie’s debut at the Venice Film Festival garnered positive reviews, especially for the performances by Kirby and LaBeouf. Kirby’s was so good she won the festival’s Best Actress Volpi Cup.

A short clip debuted while Venice was underway. Those positive reviews were likely instrumental in Netflix deciding to acquire the film, which it did shortly after the Venice premiere.

It was also screened at the Toronto Film Festival as well as for the American Film Institute and at EnergaCamerimage Film Festival.

Media and Press

A profile of Kirby from early September included this as one of a couple highly-anticipated projects she was involved in.

Weber and Mundruczo were interviewed during Venice about how they expanded on earlier material for this film and how they secured the cast they did. In another interview during teh festival they talked about tackling taboo subjects and more.

Kirby and Burstyn were interviewed together about making the movie and what drew them to the project. Elsewhere Mundruczo talked about the story and what made it so powerful while also praising his cast.

Closer to release there was another feature profile of Kirby that had her talking about taking on her first major role specifically because it seemed scary and imposing. She also promoted the film in an appearance on “The Tonight Show.”

Mundruczó and Wéber were interviewed about developing such a raw and personal story, and then doing so again for a feature version. There was also an interview with Burstyn, whose performance has created a good percentage of the film’s buzz and been called out in many reviews.

If you’re wondering where LaBeouf was during the press campaign, he either declined to participate or was told not to following recent allegations of abusive, harassing behavior by various women as well as new reports of erratic and problematic behavior on-set.

Overall

Making Kirby the focal point of the campaign was absolutely the right call here, not only because she bears the brunt of the story’s emotional baggage but because her performance anchors the film and is where the audience is intended to throw their attention.

It’s a slow and deliberate campaign, especially exemplified by the trailer, and that gives it an appropriate sense of drama and stakes. Not only that, it’s one of the best from Netflix, particularly in how the company has finally fully embraced giving its movie stars the chance to fully engage the press.

Picking Up The Spare

Kirby and Burstyn were interviewed about working together and how the film is important in telling a woman-centric story, while the filmmakers later commented on working with LaBeouf and what they thought of the harassment and abuse allegations leveled against the actor. 

Kirby also spoke about how the film depicts grief and mourning in the face of unbelievable tragedy and then on one particularly traumatic scene. Mundroczo spoke about telling that kind of heartbreaking story here.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

Nothing particularly surprising on the movie’s official website, just the usual mix of marketing materials along with links to social profiles.

Media and Press

The two stars were jointly interviewed about the over-the-top story and the continuation of the F&TF franchise.

As the marketing for this film was well underway news broke that producer Neal Moritz, who had been with the franchise since the beginning, was being removed from future films by Universal, their patience with his confrontational style having reached its end. More immediately, it contended he had no standing as producer on this film since it didn’t fall under the terms of his contract because it was a spinoff of the franchise, one the studio needed to cultivate for future expansions and sequels.

A profile of Johnson focused on how this is just the latest in a string of films featuring the actor saving the world in some manner. A couple months later an EW cover story focused on Elba and his addition to the franchise as well as how he and the other two stars meshed during production.

There was also a profile of Elba on his own that covered his career and why he’s made the choices he has, including signing on to this project.

Johnson’s work to present the Samoan siva tau war dance in an authentic way – and the impact it had on him and his family – was the subject of another interview with the actor. Director David Leitch was also profiled, with the focus being on his status as one of Hollywood’s go-to guys for action films.

Late night TV appearances included Elba talking with Colbert as well as Kirby and Johnson on “Fallon.”

Kirby, who (despite a notable age difference) played Statham’s sister and Johnson’s love interest, finally got a profile of her own. Also getting a turn in the spotlight was the stunt and effects team that added their flair to the movie.

More from Leitch on certain secrets of the movie’s story here. The director was also featured in an IMAX promo video while the format company created its own short spot for the movie.

Overall

Picking Up the Spare

Leitch continued to talk about the pressure he felt taking his first stab at the franchise.

Adweek details a Snapchat sponsored AR lens that added some of the movie’s vehicles to people’s surroundings.