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Movie Marketing Madness: Rubber

rubber_ver2Evil, in the movies, comes in all shapes and sizes. You have the cultured, polite exceptional that is Hans Gruber, the emotionless compressed-air toting Anton Chigurh, the rampaging monsters of B-movie films from the 1950s and everything inbetween. Some don’t consider themselves evil even as they continue to oppress or terrorize the people around them and some know how bad they are and revel in it.

But most of them are, at the very least, some form of living creature.

Not so in the new movie Rubber. Here the antagonist is actually a newly sentient rubber tire that springs to life for an unknown reason in the middle of a desert in the American southwest. Soon he discovers he has the power to kill any living thing with the power of his “mind” and goes on a rampage across the desert, becoming fixated on a young woman on her own trip.

It is, to say the least, odd.

The Posters

The movie’s poster sets an interesting tone for the film, coming across as a cross between Warhol-esque artwork and grindhouse exploitation flick. Working down from the top, it features a terrible, terrible pun in “Are you TIRED of the expected?,” a picture of a tire with an evil eye in the middle and then a bright red bottom-half with the title and credits. It’s more than a little surreal and alternately pretty creepy and darkly amusing. It sets up the premise that the villain of the movie is that tire with tongue firmly in cheek.

The second poster just went for the ridiculous instead of the sublime, putting the titular tire in the middle of a B-movie type one-sheet as a huge object that’s being leaned against by a beautiful woman (presumably the one we’ll see in the trailer that he’s pursuing for some reason) and being stared at by the beleaguered deputy that is in turn pursuing the homicidal bit of vulcanized rubber. All that is set against a sleazy roadside motel. The fact that this one is painted just ups the cheese factor.

The Trailer

Honestly if the trailer were all that was ever produced this would be one of the best short films of the year. We’re introduced to this villainous tire, which seemingly comes to life after being half-buried in the desert before going on a murderous rampage for reasons that remain its own. The sheriffs that encounter it don’t know what to make of it and try to track it down, including eventually using a mannequin to lure it out. But it seems fixated on hunting down young women in seedy hotel rooms and killing people seemingly by shooting them in the head.

It’s absolutely ridiculous but it’s kind of hard to tell from the trailer whether the movie as a whole plays this idea straight or if it’s winking at the audience the entire time. Either way, it’s among the craziest things I’ve seen in quite a while.

A later red-band version that was released was about 85% the same trailer, with a few new shots thrown in. The main things that made it an age-restricted release were the more graphic shots of first a rabbit and then someone’s head exploding.

Online

The movie’s official website is rather sparse, but that’s largely because this is a small-budget movie getting limited theatrical release in addition to going on-demand. The trailer is there as is a Photo Gallery of images, Synopsis, Cast and Crew credits and information buying tickets and where the movie is playing in theaters.

There’s also a Facebook page for the film that similarly has photos and some video along with links to some of the press the movie has earned and other updates.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing here that I’ve come across.

Media and Publicity

The movie got a glitzy coming out by premiering at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, where it received almost universally negative reviews by the “serious” movie commentators there. But the buzz has improved significantly since then as more fans of genre and offbeat movies have seen it.

Publicity ramped up closer to release included profiles of Blake Robbins (Boston Herald, 3/27/11), who plays the sheriff who hunts down the homicidal tire and director Dupieux (Lost Angeles Times, 3/27/11) who talked about how and why he made such an outrageous movie.

Overall

If there’s a complaint that has no place in reviewing this campaign it’s that the marketing takes the movie too seriously. On the contrary there’s nary a frame that’s shown or any other component that isn’t actively winking at the audience about how ridiculous this whole conceit is. That’s not to say it isn’t good – especially in terms of trying to reach the people who are into movies like Scanners and other classic horror films that have crazy concepts. They’re the ones who have latched on to the movie and who may turn it into a cult classic over a period of time.

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