“A man’s home is his castle” is shopworn cliche that is more than a few years old and more than a little outdated on multiple levels. While the sentiment is notable and understandable – that a guy should be comfortable and in charge of his household and be the protector of that household, shielding his wife and children from harm and danger.
Few movies were more visceral about the invasion of a home by outlaw forces than Straw Dogs form director Sam Peckinpah. Featuring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George as a young married couple who have their vacation home raided by local ruffians it showed just how far a nice guy can be pushed before he fights back. Now Straw Dogs has been remade by director Rod Lurie. This time the couple, David and Amy Summer are played by James Marsden and Kate Bosworth, is returning from LA to her Southern hometown. There the couple are increasingly harassed by some tough guys looking to impress Amy and take David, who they see as a weak intellectual, out of the picture. But eventually his breaking point is found and things take a turn for the violent.
The first poster was, unsurprisingly, an homage to the iconic one-sheet used for the original film. We see Marsden’s face wearing glasses, one eye of which is broken and shattered. In the place of that lens is the face of one attackers and the copy at the bottom reads “Everyone has a breaking point.” It’s a bit more on the nose than the original, which didn’t have any copy points or show any of the bad guys, but it works in its own way and, despite what some people felt at the time it was released, I think they would have done a disservice had they not tried to recreate such a well known poster in some manner.
A second version of this poster took out the color from the broken lens and replaced it with a more clear shot of Marsden’s eyeball along with the reflection of a bad guy who looks like he’s approaching with intentions that are less than peaceful.
After that there was a series of three character one-sheets released, one with Skarsgard, one with Marsden and one with Bosworth. Each one featured something he or she (presumably) says in the movie and is emblematic of that character. So Skarsgard’s says “We take care of our own,” Marsden’s “I will not allow violence against this house” and Bosworth’s “Don’t let them in.”
At the same time that set hit another one debuted that had Skarsgard’s face in sort of the reverse image of Marsden’s on the earlier posters. Only there’s no reflection and the copy here says “Don’t let them in,” this time it apparently being a description of them and not something that character says.
The first trailer starts off almost immediately with the invasion of the home David and Amy are living in and their panicked reactions to that. But then we stop and go backwards to when the couple moved to this house and how they met the five guys who will become their terrorizers, guys who have been hired to work on a building project. The tension grows as those five guys begin to get a little too envious of Amy and see David as an ineffectual wuss who’s easily taken out. But then we jump back to the night of the invasion and see how they push David to the breaking point.
It’s a pretty good trailer that might be a tad generic in nature – we’ve seen other home invasion movies like this recently – but it looks like Marsden might do a decent job as the husband who eventually decides to go beyond the realm of what he’s usually comfortable with to protect his wife and his home.
The official website opens with just a recreation of the movie’s key art and invites you to watch the trailer. Once you enter the site you get some full screen video that plays as each section load.
The first such section is “Synopsis” which has a very brief description of the film’s story. “Videos” just has the one trailer.
There are, by my rough count, over two dozen full screen stills in the “Gallery” and then “Downloads” has a Poster, some Wallpapers, a few AIM Icons and a Twitter Skin to grab. “Cast & Crew” is just a list of names without any further information available.
When you click the “What’s Your Breaking Point” copy you are taken to Facebook but I’m not sure what that does since I didn’t connect it with my account.
The movie’s Facebook page has photos, videos, links to publicity and marketing information and other conversations.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
A variety of TV commercials were created and released in both 15 and 30 second flavors. The longer ones obviously have a little bit more time to tell more of the story but even there they include ones that alternate between telling the full story and focusing just on the climactic home invasion sequence. They all do, though, play up the violence that goes on between the characters.
There was also some online advertising done using a mix of the poster key art and some video.
Media and Publicity
While there wasn’t a ton of press about the movie (though there was plenty of buzz about the comparisons between this and the original) there was some discussion about how to portray rapists when they’re the antagonists of the story and especially when they’re played by rising stars with lots of sex appeal among the opposite gender.
Just before release there was some more press (Los Angeles Times, 9/11/11) wherein Lurie defended his decision to remake this story from his own point of view and talked about changing the setting from rural England to the American South.
What strikes me about the video component of the campaign – the trailer and the TV spots – is that there’s no shying away from the violence of the story here. It’s very clear that bad things happen to Bosworth’s character and that Marsden’s revisits that and more upon the guys who break into his home.
It’s clear, along those same lines, that this campaign is selling an adult drama that’s filled with very uncomfortable moments. There’s a little bit of emphasis on Skarsgard not just because he’s the main antagonist but because of his popularity from “True Blood” so that’s to be expected to some extent. But it all adds up to a pretty good marketing effort for this film.