What do you do when your single-minded determination to meet one goal is thrown out of whack? It happens all the time, that you set out with your eyes firmly on one prize only to discover, through one circumstance or another, that there’s something slightly better out there. Or at least something that may be better suited to you or provide you with a better opportunity to express yourself or use your talents. How we adjust to all that is the important thing
The new movie The Fits tells the story of Toni (Royalty Hightower), a young girl who dreams of being a professional boxer. So she trains and works at it with dogged determination. But one day while at the gym she sees a dance troupe practicing in another space and becomes entranced by the movement and power on display there. Joining the tight-knit group is difficult, through, but she does everything to fit in. Suddenly, a bout of fainting spells begins to hit the members of the troupe, throwing Toni’s future into doubt and raising lots of questions.
The one poster for the movie knows exactly what it’s selling: Hightower’s breakout performance. That’s been the focus of much of the press and early reviews so it only makes sense to make her the central focus of the one-sheet. Along with her face and the title treatment are lists of festivals the movie has appeared at as well as adjectives it’s been described with by that early press. The blur of light in the background creates the sense of her being at the center of a whirlwind of motion, which seems to tie into how the movie is being sold overall.
The first trailer is pretty great. We meet Toni as she is working out in a boxing gym, seemingly determined to become a fighter. But the she glances a dance group and becomes interested in that. It’s clear, though, the group is highly competitive and Toni is an outsider in this group. The trailer features pull quotes from various press that praise the movie as a whole and Hightower’s performance in particular.
It’s an incredibly moving trailer, all the more so because is doesn’t feature a single line of dialogue. It’s just Toni moving around her world, whether it’s the boxing gym, the dance studio, the halls of school or the overpass she’s walking along. The tight editing and rhythmic beat in the background keep the tension up, creating an affecting sales tool. Like the poster, the trailer often presents Toni as being surrounded by motion, creating the sense that she’s calm and self-assured among others who are scurrying and fussing around her.
Online and Social
There’s not a whole lot going on on the movie’s official website, which isn’t surprising. When you open the page a pop-up plays the trailer, which is definitely worth watching again. Just under the trailer window is a prompt asking you to pre-order the movie on home video.
Scrolling down, “About” has a Synopsis that offers more plot details than are available elsewhere, particularly about the fainting “fits” that the girls suffer, as well as Cast and Filmmakers bios. That’s followed by a “Gallery” that just has a few stills in it.
The final two sections on the site are a list of the movie’s “Screenings” that lets you find a location near you and a “Press” section with some positive quotes from critics and a press kit to be downloaded.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve come across. Not surprising since this is a small movie with unknowns, so there likely wasn’t much in the way of an advertising budget.
Media and Publicity
The movie was picked up by Oscilloscope Laboratories about a week in advance of its Sundance premiere. That screening resulted in lots of positive word of mouth that’s been sustained through the release of various marketing materials and up to release.
It’s a small campaign but, as I said before, that’s not hugely surprising. The main element is the trailer, which works to sell an independent movie with a vibe all its own and a performance by Hightower that looks to be deeply moving. The movie is relying mostly on word of mouth from the critics that saw it at Sundance and have continued singing its praises over the course of the intervening months.
The movie itself looks unique and powerful. There are elements of the story that are explained in the on-domain synopsis that aren’t hinted at anywhere else in the campaign, which may or may not be a good thing. If you’re going into this without specifically having read that on-site write-up you’ll have a very different impression of the movie than if you have read it, which may or may not be a good thing. It remains to be seen – at least among those us not privy to early screenings – whether that additional information drastically changes expectations of the movie itself.