What do you do when you get angry? Some of us push that rage deep down and let it fester until it comes out as an indiscriminate explosion or where it slowly fades as we calm down and we put a better construction on whatever it is that just happened. Some of us will list in detail while we’re upset while others mumble something and shuffle off, assuming it’s all our fault anyway. Some people will direct all their fury outward, finding the person or people it’s believed are at the core of their troubles and doing something drastic to hold them accountable for whatever ill fortune has fallen on them.
That’s the premise of Money Monster, the new movie from director Jodie Foster. George Clooney plays Lee Gates, the Jim Cramer-like host of a cable show about stocks and investing that’s directed and produced by Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts). One day their show is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of a stranger (Jack O’Connell) who takes Gates hostage with a vest bomb, demanding answers as to how he lost all his money in the financial crisis years ago. So Gates and Fenn, unable to provide answers of their own, decide to save themselves by engaging in the journalism they and others should have done when it was happening.
The first poster is…interesting. Clooney’s face is the main element but it’s mostly obscured by a test pattern that covers from his forehead down to the bottom of his nose. In that test pattern we get Clooney, Roberts and O’Connell’s names along with other credits. There’s also the “Not every conspiracy is a theory” copy.
I like how this is clearly an adult drama being sold. And the test pattern graphic indicates the story takes place in the world of TV. More than anything what’s notable here is Clooney’s continued willingness to not trade solely on his looks to seek a movie since most of his face, one of his most defining traits, is unseen here.
A series of three character posters, one each for Clooney, Roberts and O’Connell, kept the visual conceit of the color bars running through the middle and each character has their face split between the top and bottom. O’Connell’s is a bit different since we see a bit of his face at the bottom but at the top is a shot of him holding a gun.
The theatrical one-sheet brought the three leads together but kept the color test bar theme. Clooney is on the left and Roberts on the right with O’Connell dividing them in the triptych image. Below the title treatment is the same tagline we’ve seen on previous posters.
The first trailer opens with some sort of situation underway as we see people being urged to leave the building, police approaching something cautiously and finally Gates being held at gunpoint. We then jump back and see Gates and Fenn talking about the show, which is a “Mad Money” type of show giving stock tips and flashy financial “analysis.” Soon a strange man enters the set and he quickly pulls a weapon and takes Gates and the broadcast hostage. It turns out this guy has an axe to grind with Wall Street, having lost everything and blaming the financial industry for his misfortunes. So he forces Gates to help him find out the truth of what happens, which leads to the kind of journalism that was missing as things were melting down. The executives under scrutiny aren’t thrilled with the attention and everyone is trying to descalate the situation
It’s not a bad trailer but it also struggles a bit with tone and pacing. Clooney and Roberts look like they’re giving their usual charming and heartfelt performances. But the trailer itself goes back and forth between breezy and deadly serious in a way that I don’t think serves the movie well. I get what they’re going for but it doesn’t quite come off in a way I think will appeal to a lot of people. It’s trying to make a message movie look like a procedural drama, which is what Clooney does a lot of, so that shouldn’t be surprising.
Online and Social
The movie’s official website opens with full-motion video that’s pulled from the trailer, which you can watch by clicking on the button in the upper right hand corner.
The “Cast & Crew” section, the first option in the content menu on the left, gives you a list of the talent in from the camera and behind it but doesn’t offer deeper information on that talent. Nor are there links to IMDb profiles as is sometimes the case. “Synopsis” offers a very breezy write-up of the movie’s story that doesn’t offer anything you couldn’t learn by watching the trailer.
As far as I can tell the trailer is the only thing available in the “Videos” section. And there are three pictures – two stills and one behind the scenes shot featuring Foster – in the “Gallery.”
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There were a number of TV spots like this one that were created and run that all play like short versions of the trailer, with some focusing more on the characters and others more on the tense action sequences.
Over all the TV campaign sells a movie that’s meant for adults featuring actors they’ve gotten old alongside. That may or may not be a good thing.
Online ads were run that used variations on the key art and, again, did what they could to amp up the tension of the movie, mostly by showing the tense look on Clooney’s face.
Media and Publicity
The first look at stills from the movie came with comments from Foster about working with the two stars and how Roberts in particular was such a star on the set as well as some details on the story itself. That was followed a while later by the news the movie would have a screening at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
Foster talked, of course, about her career as a whole and her approach to being a “celebrity,’ a role she’s never been totally comfortable in. She also touched on how she fleshed out Roberts’ role from where it was in the original script, how Clooney’s role connect with her and lots more. She talked more here about casting the movie, why she opted to not act in it herself at all and how directing has always been somewhere her career was heading. That interview was in conjunction with her receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
All three did the press rounds, though Foster has seemed to be the focal point so far, making appearances on various morning and late-night talk shows. Roberts did so as well, with Clooney appearing to do the least bit of press.
It’s somewhat surprising that the campaign puts Foster, who’s not on camera, front and center. She lead the press push, her name is all over the trailers and posters and is basically the public face of the movie. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s an unusual call for someone who’s not at the Spielberg/Coppola level to get play in the marketing that’s at this level. Then again, those guys are rarely the ones who are sent to the late night talk shows, so perhaps it was Foster’s ability to do so and the desire to refamiliarize the public with her work that was behind this call.
The movie itself looks good enough. Foster is an able director and the cast is certainly capable of elevating scripts to be better than they are, so what looks like a movie we’ve seen before – hostages begin to sympathize with their captor when they’re convinced of the moral righteousness of their crusade – will likely be better in execution than it might come off here, which is fairly by-the-numbers. This is the kind of adult-focused drama about “a serious issue” that hasn’t faired too well at the box office recently, so let’s see if the talent involved can improve its chances.