Marital infidelity is always a great hook for a story, whether it’s something that’s played for laughs or for tears. There’s always drama, or at least pathos, to be found in a story about one spouse cheating on the other with someone else. Most of the time the hook is the revelation of that cheating and we follow the characters as the deal with the fallout. Some movies, though, deal more with the suspicion that one spouse might have about the other’s actions and how they go about confirming or disproving those fears.
That such suspicions are somewhat easier to investigate in the age of camera phones and text messages is the topic of Chloe, the new film from director Atom Egoyan. Starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore as a married couple the movie revolves around the fears Moore’s wife has that her husband has been unfaithful on his frequent travels. So instead of simply confronting him she decides to enlist a prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him so she can catch them in the act and deal with it that way. But her plans become more tangled as boundaries are crossed and Chloe’s behavior becomes more unpredictable than she bargained for.
The one-sheet that was produced pretty clearly sells the movie as a relationship thriller. Neeson and Moore look pensive and more than a tad wary in the background as Seyfried stares directly into the camera intensely, the latter being an image that we’ll see again later in the trailer.
The pull-quote at the top of the poster makes sure to highlight the words “sexual obsession” and “seduction,’ ensuring that the audience is going to go in to the movie with the expectations of lots of sexual content and mind-games being played among the characters.
There’s not a whole lot more to the poster than the photos of the three lead actors but that’s kind of the point, I think. Seyfried is pretty hot right now with a number of movies coming out recently and the teaming of Neeson and Moore is sure to excite a good portion of the audience that’s attracted to character-study type small movies.
The film’s one trailer is a good one, setting out the plot nicely and also making it clear there are some messed up relationships that go into every aspect of the story.
We start out with Moore’s character being obviously jealous and suspicious of the behavior her husband exhibits around pretty young women. So after her fears continue to grow she decides to setup a sting operation, enlisting the services of a prostitute to catch the eye of her husband and confirm those fears. But the young lady, Chloe, who she engages for the operation takes things further than originally planned. And that’s when things get even more uncomfortable as then Moore’s character herself finds herself emotionally – and physically – entangled by Chloe and all of a sudden a pawn in whatever game she’s playing. The trailer ends with a close shot of Seyfried’s eyes as they seem to convey a mix of conniving and uncertainty.
It’s pretty effective as a sales tool for the movie in that it shows off the performances by the three main characters nicely and makes it clear that if you’re a fan of movies that will smack you about the ears repeatedly for a couple hours then this is a sure bet for you.
The first section on the movie’s official website is a “Synopsis” that takes us through what is, I’m guessing, the first half hour of the movie, which sets it up nicely and provides a reason to see the full film so that the audience can see how that build-up plays out.
There are somewhere north of 25 stills from the movie, including a handful of the production, in the “Gallery.” The “Theatrical Trailer” section is exactly what it sounds like and there’s no additional video there.
“Cast” has a full cast list as well as expanded profiles of the four major actors. Same type of deal with “Filmmakers.”
There are five sub-sections in “Production Notes” that cover everything from casting the roles to how the cinematographer got the look he was going for and more.
“Reviews” just has a handful of excerpts from early reviews but there aren’t any links to the full pieces, which is disappointing. Finally “Links” has links to the IMDb and Wikipedia entries for the primary cast and crew.
The movie’s Facebook page has links to some of the film’s media coverage as well as updates on the cast’s promotional rounds and the usual content like video and photos.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There was also a TV spot created and presumably broadcast that mostly took from the trailer but upped the dramatic ante by including lots of smash-cuts and big, shouty title cards that asked the audience if they could really trust who they were with. It hints at most of the same things the trailer does and gets to the same conclusion, that Chloe is a bit disturbed in how she takes what should have been a simple job too far and becomes emotionally entangled in this family.
Media and Publicity
A New York Times piece (8/30/09) about the movie and the talent involved – from the director to producer Ivan Reitman to Neeson in the role he was shooting when his wife died suddenly – served as a big kickoff to the movie’s visibility and publicity. Director Egoyan was the main focus, though, since this star-studded film marked somewhat of a departure from the smaller fare his past is made up of. The NYT story eluded to the belief that the movie would be playing at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival, something that would certainly raise its profile even higher.
That NYT piece came just a few weeks before the movie’s hinted-at debut at the Toronto Film Festival, an appearance that brought about a bit more discussion of the film and the personal tragedy that had befallen Neeson in the middle of shooting.
The movie eventually landed a distribution deal with Sony Classics four or five months after that TIFF debut.
Getting closer to the film’s release there were more stories like this one (Los Angeles Times, 3/21/10) that took a big-picture view of the movie, its story and the players.
There’s a good campaign here that strikes a lot of the right notes for the audience, especially those who are predisposed to the kinds of movies where right and wrong behaviors aren’t always clearly defined. The trailer is stronger in this regard than, say, the TV commercial that was produced, which discards some of the moral ambiguity in favor of a tone that’s heavier on thrills than puzzling questions.
One thing that’s nicely done from a branding standpoint is that the same materials are used in new and different ways from one element to the next. So the image on the poster of Seyfried looking directly – and intently – at the camera is a recreation of a shot from the movie that shows up in the trailer and that image is reused on some areas of the website. There’s been a nice steady drip of publicity as well that has served to keep the movie in the mind of the public in conjunction with the release of official marketing materials.
Add everything together and you have a solid campaign for a mid-tier release that is looking to appeal to a broadly narrow audience.