The Favourite – Marketing Recap

the favourite poster 2The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, tells the story of two women desperate to hang on to the coattails of power. Set in 18th century England, Olivia Colman stars as Queen Anne, who may be going slightly mad. She’s determined to continue engaging in her life of luxury, even as the country she leads engages in a war with France.

Amidst all this her friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) continues to enjoy her proximity to power and the influence that comes with that. Her position is threatened, at least in her eyes, by the arrival of a new aid to the Queen, Abigail (Emma Stone). Thus begins a jockeying for power with plenty of backstabbing, manipulation and other bad actions.

The Posters

the favourite posterI don’t even know how to describe the format of the first poster. The usual information – title, cast and other talent – is all included. But the layout is so unique, including the squares formed around those names, it takes a minute to realize what’s really going on. Then there’s the fact that it features not just a tagline but a whole story synopsis right there in smallish type. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.

The relationship between the three women is on display in the theatrical poster. Queen Anne and Lady Sarah are shown to the side in their own little frame, with Abigail sulking on the floor, just outside the conversation. At the top is the same title treatment and credits block seen earlier.

The Trailers

There’s a mad queen at the center of the story being sold in the first teaser, which has her and those around her engaging in all sorts of royal hijinks that are seen as anywhere from slightly eccentric to completely bonkers. It’s all very fast-paced and presented as even more off-kilter because of the fisheye point of view the camera often takes. Lanthimos’ previous work is of course name-dropped to help appeal to the crowd that’s become fans of his.

Everyone’s got their own agendas at work in the second trailer, which debuted at the same time the movie was making the festival rounds. Lady Sarah is madly protective of the attention of Queen Anne, but Abigail’s presence in the house means there’s someone competing for that attention. Backstabbing, threats and passive aggressive interplay follows as they try to keep the Queen from falling apart while also attempting to take their in-house rivals down.

Online and Social

Fox Searchlight’s official website has all the standard material like the trailer, gallery and synopsis. The “How Goes The Kingdom” section takes you to a series of posts from a Tumblr blog with GIFs, videos, photos and quotes that can be shared. There are also links to the movie’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The second trailer was used as a promoted Twitter post in mid-September to help raise awareness.

In mid-November TV advertising started with a series of commercials that highlighted the kooky nature of of the story, the backstabbing the characters engage in and more.

Other online ads used the key art and other stills from the film.

Media and Publicity

It first really popped on a lot of people’s radars when Fox Searchlight announced a release date for the movie. The movie was also part of the later CineEurope presentation from the studio and then a few months later announced as the opening film of the New York Film Festival. It was also announced as one of those screening at the Venice Film Festival.

While at Venice Lanthimos and the cast spoke about the story and how the movie unintentionally echoes and amplifies many of the subjects and themes that have come up in the last year or so as sexual assault, discrimination and more have risen to the surface once more.

It continued on the festival circuit, screening at Telluride as well. While there Stone spoke not only about this film but about her career in general. Lanthimos also commented on how he wanted the same sex love triangle in the story to not be a thing but just to be accepted and have people move on.

It was then announced among the titles appearing at the Austin Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, where it continued earning kudos and where the cast and crew talked about the research they did for the story. Later on it received a number of accolades from the Gotham Awards, including a special prize for Weisz, as well as a handful of British Independent Film Award nominations.

Stone appeared on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie and her status as the only American on the set. Weisz later hit “The Late Show” to also hype up the film and talk about that extra “u” in the title.

The first clip showed the conflict for the queen’s affection and favor Abigail and Lady Sarah are engaged in.

A feature story on the movie had the cast and Lanthimos talking about the gender politics, the long road the movie took to production and lots more.

Overall

That THR feature profile on the movie really sums up the theme of the movie’s campaign, that it’s a story of power, gender politics and other related issues. It’s not presented as movie that’s as offbeat or unusual as some of Lanthimos’ other films but more of a mainstream dramatic comedy of women who are out to define their own destiny.

The marketing never focuses too much on the story but instead just shows the performances of the three leads, particularly Weisz and Stone. That’s a strong card to play and one designed to appeal to audiences during this season of serious movies hitting theaters.

Picking Up The Spare

Colman was the subject of feature profile that mentioned how this isn’t the first time she’s played royalty and an interview that touched on her acting choices and what kinds of roles she’s drawn to.

Lanthimos was interviewed and profiled about the sometimes difficult nature of his stories and his vision for this film. He also talked about the journey the script took to completion and how he and the crew worked to break free of the constraints of the period setting.

Weisz spoke about working with the director again and being on a female-dominated production while Stone was interviewed about playing a character a bit more rough-edged than usual. The two of them along with Lanthimos were interviewed together about the odd nature of the story.

A couple weeks after release a new featurette had the cast and crew talking about the themes of the story and the characters they play. Another talked about the perspective of the story and a third featured the cast talking about working with Lanthimos.

There was also a profile of the movie’s noted dance sequence while the producers of the film spoke about a decade of working with Lanthimos.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Marketing Recap

After winning widespread acclaim for The Lobster two years ago, writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos is back with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The movie reteams him with star Colin Farrell, who here plays Dr. Steven Murphy, a successful surgeon who leads a comfortable, respectable and luxurious life with his wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two teenage children.

Steven has, unbeknownst to most everyone, taken a teenage boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan) under his wing. That turns out to be a poor decision as Martin’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and dangerous. Not only does he threaten to expose a secret of Steven’s from long in the past but he also makes it clear he’s a danger to the whole family.

The Posters

Farrell stands alone in an absurdly tall hospital room on the first poster, facing two empty beds as if pondering the people who are no longer in them. There’s no other copy aside from the title and credits and nothing to provide additional story context, so it’s just about selling a unique look and feel here.

The second poster features an upside down image of Martin, a photo of Steven and Anna appearing inside the outline of Martin’s picture. That’s meant to convey how the two parties have become intertwined, the fact that Martin’s photo is upside down adding to the sense of disorientation in the audience.

The Trailers

There’s no clear story in the first trailer, instead it’s more focused on setting up some sort of medical mystery and family drama. Somehow a young girl winds up not able to move and that has an impact on the rest of her family as well as the surgeon who has handled her case. What else is happening isn’t apparent, other than that there will be both psychological and physical torture going on.

A second short trailer has Martin coming to the house of Anna and the rest of the family. Martin makes cryptic, threatening comments to Steven about his family and how they’re all going to get sick and die. There’s a connection between the two that’s not great and which is going to have an impact on everyone around Steven and Anna.

Online and Social

There isn’t a whole lot going on at A24’s official website for the movie. There’s a prompt to play the trailer and one to get tickets. Toward the bottom are links to the movie’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles.

The primary feature is “Doctor What’s Wrong With Me?” That takes you to a stand-alone website that lets you diagnose what might be wrong with you by pointing and clicking on different parts of an anatomy. All the answers, of course, are more emotional and mental than physical. There’s also a test you can take that seems designed to test your empathy and attitude toward the harsh realities of life.

It’s very similar to the site launched in conjunction with The Lobster, which was designed to see what animal you should be when you fail to find a mate.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing on this front that I’ve been exposed to. There may have been some ads in the real world and online that were targeted at the movie’s initial release markets, but I’m not aware of them.

Media and Publicity

The movie was one of the handful that had its premiere at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival. It was later also added to the Fantastic Fest schedule.

The movie was one of a few Kidman appeared in at the festival, leading to a narrative in the press about the actress’s resurgence and her work ethic. Later on Silverstone talked about how she got involved with the film and what it was like shooting with Farrell.

This marking their second collaboration, there was a joint interview with Farrell and Lanthimos where they talked about how they began working together, what they enjoy about the process and lots more.

Overall

Anyone who wasn’t already a fan of Lanthimos’ previous work, including those who first discovered him through 2015’s The Lobster, isn’t going to find a lot to latch onto with this campaign. There’s no, or little, sense of the story or character offered anywhere in the marketing that A24 has offered for this new movie. Anyone who saw the trailer in front of something more mainstream likely came away confused and uninterested. It’s inaccessible, providing no easy jumping on point for the uninitiated.

For those a bit savvier and already in tune with what the filmmaker is doing, though, it offers a wealth of good stuff. The efforts shows the visual richness of Lanthimos’ style and the complex moral territory his stories frequently tread into. The publicity push hasn’t been all that substantial, but that’s a small criticism for an overall campaign that’s consistent from one element to the next and knows just what will bring in the kind of audience it’s hoping to find.

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