Movie Marketing Madness: Restless

We all want to be loved for different reasons. For some it’s fun. For others it’s life-affirming. For others it’s more selfish, that they feel they deserve to be loved regardless of anything else. even if we are the most selfless, least arrogant people in the world there’s likely still a small part of us that wants love on our own terms. We want to be loved how we want to be loved and anything outside of that is completely unreasonable. Even the best of us will have to admit to feeling that way occasionally, though it may be just for a brief moment in time.

The new movie Restless is about two people who have their own reasons for why they want to be loved and how they are able to deal with that. Mia Wasikowska plays Annabel, a terminally ill young woman who is dealing with all the problems that come with her diagnosis. She has a habit of attending funerals of people she doesn’t know and it’s while doing so that she meets Enoch (Henry Hopper), a young man with some quirks of his own. See he’s not great socially, largely because he sees and interacts with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot. These two personalities find solace and even budding love in one another even for their own reason as the forces around them seek to keep them apart.

The Posters

The movie’s first poster was simple but managed to convey the spirit the film seems to have very nicely. All it shows is Wasikowska and Hopper laying on the ground looking at each other, with their bodies surrounded by chalk outlines. The top of the one-sheet makes sure to name-drop Van Sant since he’s sure to have plenty of appeal among independent movie fans while the “Who do you live for?” copy at the bottom plays it a bit coy as to the movie’s themes and subject matter. If you know what the plot of the film is you get the double meaning but if you don’t it still comes across as simply meaning these two characters become each other’s worlds.

The second one-sheet for the film was similarly simple, just showing the two characters off to the side and in a corner about to kiss, her red scarf blowing behind her in the wind. That’s a nice way to show they’re in love and that she’s kind of a free spirited character. Van Sant’s name gets dropped by association with a couple of his previous movies at the top and again we get some festival credits. It doesn’t work as hard to be as clever as the first one and comes off as more earnest but that’s alright since it still works quite nicely.

The Trailers

The first trailer, released early, presents the movie as a certainly quirky comedy. We meet Enoch, an unusual boy with a predilection for hanging out at funerals for people he does not know. At one of these he meets Annabelle and the two of them start a relationship on their own terms. It’s clear her sister isn’t thrilled with this situation, but the two of them have their own vibe and embrace the fact that they’re both unusual, him with his ghost friend and her with her terminal illness.

It’s a sweet trailer that highlights how Hopper and Wasikowska interact with each other. If anything the movie’s true quirkiness and off-beat nature is, I’m guessing, toned down a bit here in favor of a more relatable and mainstream vibe.

The second trailer hit many of the same notes but in different ways. We once again meet Enoch and his invisible Kamikaze friend and then Annabelle comes into the picture when he meets her at one of the random funerals he attends. The two hit it off and begin hanging out but things get serious when she tells him she only has three months to live. We get more, I think, of the interactions between Enoch and his ghost friend to the point that suspect based on this that that’s the primary relationship in the movie.

Online

The movie’s official website opens with the trailer, which is worth watching since it’s pretty good. After you close that and Enter the Site you get a nice page that features a window frame type design, though that’s not used for any special reason.

The content menu is down at the bottom of the page and the first section there is “About” which features a nice synopsis of the story as well as write-ups of the Costuming of the characters (a nice touch considering the actors do sport some interesting styles) and the Production which goes into the story’s history as a series of short vignettes, then a play and ultimately a film.

“Cast & Crew” allows you to dive into the career histories of the principles involved in front of and behind the camera.

The “Photos” section finally puts that window pane look to some use, spreading a dozen stills that are a mix of production shots and behind the scenes photos into various windows and allowing you to click them to get a bigger look.

Finally “Videos” just has the second trailer, labeled here a Teaser for reasons that aren’t quite clear to me.

For any of a number of reasons the Facebook page’s Wall isn’t as full as other pages of videos and photos or even news stories. Instead it’s focused more on promoting screenings of the movie itself, which for a film like this is probably the stronger strategy.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

I think there’s been some online advertising done that’s used the key art from the poster but that’s about it.

Media and Publicity

The movie was originally on the list of those accepted to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival but was pulled by the studio the same day the rest of the film line-up was announced and also changed its release date, though the “Why” behind those moves wasn’t clear at the time. It later surfaced as potentially appearing (Hollywood Reporter, 3/16/11) at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, rumors that were later confirmed (THR, 4/13/11).

Eventually it was announced that, while it was developed and produced at Sony Pictures, the Sony Pictures Classic arm would eventually distribute the film (Los Angeles Times, 3/31/11).

The Cannes premiere was generally well received and, more than anything, provided a nice sense of closure for the filmmakers (LAT, 5/13/11) who were happy the movie was finally getting seen and that a release was imminent.

Overall

I feel like the campaign here never really had a chance to gain any sort of real momentum. Things were well done in spots but the constant shifts in who was distributing it means there isn’t one cohesive strategy that was developed and that, I think, is why you’re not seeing more press and more overall activity around the marketing.

What is there, though, is well done. I really like the trailers and think the final poster is just about as good as anyone could develop to sell the movie in a single image. I would have liked to have seen more of the reactions from Cannes worked into the campaign but that’s a constant shortcoming in many campaigns.

By Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.