These days there’s little left to the imagination when it comes to how celebrities spend their downtime. Not only are there always countless press and paparazzi at all times looking out for when a movie star goes to the grocery store or when a singer goes on vacation but they themselves are sharing those moments on social media. So we know where they are at all times, see what kind of drinks they’re having on vacation and otherwise get continual looks into their lives. Few are the celebs who value their private lives and their time away from the spotlight.
The new drama A Bigger Splash is about one of those times when a celebrity just wants to unplug. Tilda Swinton plays Marianne Lane, a rock star who decides she’s burnt out and needs some time away. So she escapes with her partner Paul (Paul De Smedt) for some time off. Their retreat to a secluded island resort is interrupted by the arrival of Harry (Ralph Fiennes), Marianne’s old producer and ex-lover. He brings with him Penelope (Dakota Johnson) and suddenly what was meant to be a vacation with drinks and relaxation on the beach becomes a whirlwind of parties and emotional upheaval as people are seduced, old flames are rekindled and everyone becomes a little more damaged.
The movie’s only one-sheet plays up the cast but doesn’t go into much detail on the story. The four leads are split into their own quadrants of the one-sheet, their names appearing at the top. A quote from an early review is as close as it comes to explaining the plot. Outside of that we’re just asked to see the movie based on the collective star power of the cast, which admittedly is considerable.
The first domestic trailer starts off showing Marianne as a rock star on stage. After that we see she and her partner Paul are retreating for a vacation on a secluded island, a getaway that’s interrupted by the arrival of Harry and his daughter Penelope. He’s a force of nature, all wild flailing as opposed to the relaxation the couple were originally out for. The tension quickly builds as Penelope flirts with Paul and Harry tries to seduce Marianne with comments about how she’s wasting her time with Paul. It’s clear this vacation will not be a relaxing good time for anyone and it’s likely everyone will come out changed at the end.
You have to love the attitude of the trailer, which is wild and uninhibited. Fiennes is clearly going all-out with a big performance but everyone else looks like they’re doing great work as well. It’s plays up the flash of the story a bit but I’m guessing there’s lots of small character moments as well.
Online and Social
The movie gets the usual quality Fox Searchlight treatment on its official website. So it opens with a quad image of the four leads and if you scroll down you get a good synopsis of the story. Keep going down and you’ll be able to find out if the movie is playing near you and get tickets if it is.
Then there’s the “Cast” section you can mouse over a picture of one of the leads and find out who they’re playing, complete with a character quote. That’s followed by the official trailer, which is then followed by a thoroughly-stocked gallery of stills, including a couple of behind-the-scenes shots.
While the movie had to hitch a ride on Fox Searchlight’s Twitter and other channels it did get its own Facebook page where the studio shared promotional images, prompts when the cast or filmmakers was appearing on TV or in-person and more.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
No advertising that I’ve seen. There may have been some online ads run but nothing I’ve seen. And there were no cross-promotional partners that are listed anywhere or which have been mentioned.
Media and Publicity
The cast talked briefly about their characters and the movie as a whole while attending the premiere. Around the same time Fiennes talked about his recent roles as well as taking on the exuberant producer he plays here. And Johnson was interviewed by rock legend Chrissie Hynde about this movie and more.
Outside of that, the cast appeared on a few TV shows and made occasional in-person appearances to talk about the movie, but that was about it.
There’s a nice brand consistency here, particularly between the key art and the website that means wherever you come across this campaign it’s going to be identifiable as part of the effort to sell this movie. That’s good. But I also feel like it never really comes together to be more than the sum of its parts. All the individual elements are good and I like a lot of what’s here, but it all seems just kind of there. It may be that the reliance is on the word of mouth that’s coming out of screenings and that will come from the audience when it’s finally released.
What’s sold is a drama with lots of big emotional moments. It’s all about the performances, particularly from Swinton and Fiennes, that are on display here and the campaign is meant to appeal to those who are attracted to that kind of element. So in that regard it’s pretty good. But like I said, it just never really comes together fully for me. I think if there were a stronger press push I’d think it was a bit more cohesive, but I can’t actually fault the elements that are here.