Picking Up the Spare: Woman Walks Ahead, The Greatest Showman and More

Woman Walks Ahead

Another feature with star Michael Greyeyes where he once again talks about the kinds of Native American character roles he’s offered and how he sees this movie as being a great example of specific representation of a Native culture, not just something vague.

The Greatest Showman

Not only does the movie’s soundtrack continue to go gangbusters on the chart but there’s apparently another album coming later this year featuring pop artists covering some of the songs from the film.

Uncle Drew

Good background story here on how the movie got made, acknowledging that films and TV shows based on commercial campaigns aren’t always the most universally successful.

Ant-Man and The Wasp

There have been a number of additional TV commercials like this one released in the last few days, all of which hope to sell the audience on a funny, light-hearted summer action movie. There are also spots like this that hit just today and which play up the shocking ending of the movie.

Marvel Studios also released a fun “Tiny BBQ” video to mark the Fourth of July.

One narrative that has been picked up in the last few days is that this is the first MCU movie where a female character shares top-billing with the male hero, something addressed here as Evangeline Lilly talks more about crafting a character little girls could relate to and connect with.

Another profile of Hannah John-Kamen, who plays the villain Ghost, where she talks about how a recommendation from Steven Spielberg helped her land this role and Peyton Reed helped her create the new version of the character.

There was a special poster created for Real 3D screenings of the first movie and this new one as a double feature. The poster shows both Ant-Man and Wasp seeking cover behind a coin that has “Opening night fan event on it.”

Peyton Reed covers a whole range of issues here, including his reaction to how offended some idiots were by Wasp receiving equal billing in the movie’s title. And the NYT covers how the filmmakers consulted with scientists to bring at least a bit of believability to the goings-on at the same time it offered a quick interview with Rudd.

Sorry to Bother You

Lakeith Stanfield received a substantial profile in The New York Times covering how he’s made a decent career to date by playing off-kilter characters.

There’s also been lots more coverage of writer/director Boots Riley, including this feature where he talks tech and this one where he weighs in on the role activism should play in the life of the artist.

I, Tonya

While it’s not directly tied to this movie, the interest and attention it received presumably lead NEON to acquire the old documentary “Sharp Edges” about Tonya Harding prior to her gaining national notoriety. Still, it’s somewhat surprising given the backlash to the movie centered around the questionable decision to make the villain in the story sympathetic while almost completely ignoring the victim.

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

Picking Up the Spare – Superfly, Boundaries and More

Superfly

Director X has been out there giving more interviews, including how he sought out Future to curate the movie’s soundtrack in part because he wanted to follow in Curtis Mayfield’s footsteps. He also shared the story of how he got involved when the project was kind of a King Lear adaptation but which eventually came back around to being a remake/update of the first Super Fly.

Boundaries

More from director Shana Feste as well as star Vera Farmiga about the genesis of the story, shooting the movie with so many dogs, the relationships each have with their fathers and thoughts on the current conversation around the demographic representation of the film critic community.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

There’s been a wave of opinion pieces about whether or not the 1993 original Jurassic Park needed any sequels at all. That position is exemplified by Matt Singer’s thinking that a scene from the first movie negates any possibility of additional stories and Clara Wardlow’s take that there simply aren’t that many narrative threads in this universe to pull on.

Star Wars

Borys Kit at THR does some digging and gets to the heart of the matter regarding Lucasfilm’s reaction to Solo’s underperformance, offering that while yes, the people there are taking fresh looks at everything there are still non-Saga projects moving forward.

Uncle Drew

Lil Rey Howery has been the subject of more profiles like this as release has drawn closer, which makes sense given the prominence he appears to have in the story but which marks a change from the NBA-heavy emphasis of the campaign to date. Costar Nick Kroll has also made a couple late night talk show appearances.

Set It Up

The writers and other filmmakers have been making the media rounds in the last week, resulting in stories like this feature and this profile of director Claire Scanlon. As I stated before, this level of earned media activity is unusual for Netflix except for prestige releases, a sign it’s both listening and responding to the buzz around this movie and trying to further own the mid-tier movie market.

Woman Walks Ahead

The movie is one of several recent projects that have brought more women into the Western genre.

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

Woman Walks Ahead – Marketing Recap

woman walks ahead posterJessica Chastain, unsurprisingly, plays a revolutionary figure from history who has largely gone unheralded in the new movie Woman Walks Ahead. Specifically, she plays Catherine Weldon, an 1890s painter who travels from her home in New York City to the frontier of Dakota to capture the portrait of the great Lakota chief Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes).

Sitting Bull is, of course, a person of interest to the United States government who they have had a hard time finding. His leadership is causing the government problems as it seeks to keep expanding the country westward, displacing or murdering native people as it does so. Weldon’s journey gets the attention of a military agent (Sam Rockwell) who adds a complication to the painter’s artistic and altruistic mission.

The Posters

“Defy your times,” the copy used on the poster, makes it clear from the outset that the story is about breaking out of society’s expectations for who you are and what you should be doing. The image shows Catherine meeting Sitting Bull, both of them sitting on horseback against an evening prairie sky.

The Trailers

Catherine is traveling west as the trailer opens, something Groves is surprised at given women on their own at this time was somewhat unusual. She’s intent on painting a portrait of Sitting Bull, something that doesn’t sit well with some locals. When she finds him and begins her work the two bond over visions and desires for lives of significance. He, of course, also just doesn’t want to be killed like other chiefs. Groves has tracked her on behalf of the army, who is out to find Sitting Bull and put an end to him and his people. Eventually everything converges in a bloody and violent ending.

It’s no surprise that Chastain looks wonderful as a woman looking to elevate her own status in the world but who also doesn’t want to get involved in the politics of what’s happening around her. That doesn’t mean she’s indifferent to Sitting Bull’s cause. In fact it’s clear she sympathizes with his desire to live in peace and freedom. But she also won’t be used as a pawn by Groves or anyone else.

Online and Social

The official website A24 established only has the trailer and a story synopsis. There’s actually a bit more information, including the poster and cast/crew lists, on the studio’s page for the movie. The movie has received limited support on the studio’s brand social media channels because it’s been prioritizing promotions for other, buzzier titles.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen, though the fact it’s available via VOD means there may be some targeted online advertising being done.

Media and Publicity

A first-look still was released in advance of the movie’s debut screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, a screening that earned decent praise, particularly for Chastain’s performance. The movie was eventually picked up by A24 and DirecTV. It later screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, it’s U.S. debut.

The lead up to the movie included features like this that profiled Chastain as both an actress and advocate, particularly within the #MeToo movement. There was also a profile of Michael Greyeyes that allowed the actor to talk about the kinds of roles he takes on and how he hopes those roles help expand understanding of indigenous people.

Chastain also did some media appearances to talk about the movie and tell the usual funny stories.

Overall

As has been the case with all too many movies recently, the story here is still unfortunately timely. While it isn’t as overtly brutal as what was done to Native Americans, we still see governments engaging in gentrification efforts all the time, seeking to push out the current population of a neighborhood so Walmart can build a super center or as a way to convince Amazon to build their next headquarters there. Not just that, but amidst the resurgence of white nationalist rhetoric in the U.S., it’s worth remembering who was really here first.

All that aside, it’s a solid drama that’s being sold here. Chastain is positioned as the big draw, but Greyeyes has been a focal point of the press, which is good to see. It’s likely not going to break any records, but could reward those who seek it out.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

The movie is one of several recent projects that have brought more women into the Western genre.
Another feature with star Michael Greyeyes where he once again talks about the kinds of Native American character roles he’s offered and how he sees this movie as being a great example of specific representation of a Native culture, not just something vague.