We’re in – actually we might just be coming out of – a golden age of dystopian fiction. Or so we’re told. Stories like The Hunger Games, The Giver and more all present societies that have been strictly engineered by forces largely unseen but whose government enforcers have laid out strict guidelines for people who are not encouraged to question the why behind those decisions. This trend is often largely overstated since it’s not as if the genre burst into life on Katnis’ coattails but has been around for quite a long time now, with novels like Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 and more, all playing notes in novels meant for adults that would be replayed later in young adult-oriented fiction and marketed to teens and tweens to sell them stories of unrequited or difficult love.
The new movie Equals is not based on an existing property, surprisingly enough, but it is about love in an oppressive quasi-futuristic society. Nicholas Hoult plays Silas and Kristen Stewart plays Nia, two members of an oppressive society that have eradicated emotions. After contracting an illness, the two begin to feel something, though, and come together over their shared experience, eventually running afoul of the authorities and needing to go on the run to protect the fire that’s been lit in them.
The first – and only -poster is simple but shows quite a bit of the movie’s story if you know what you’re looking at. A man and woman are seen behind a window that obscures their figures in a romantic embrace. The actor’s names are at the top, the title treatment at the bottom and in the middle is the copy “Find your equal.”
Again, is seems very simple but if you are at all versed in sci-fi films you can easily see that this is some sort of dystopian future where love is either forbidden or engineered. So it works on that front.
The first trailer takes us straight into the world, showing Silas staring longingly at Nia. We see the futuristic world they live in, filled with stark backgrounds and cube-like residences. Nia and Silas start to feel something for each other, an event that clearly goes against the grain of what looks to be a conformist, emotionless society. So there are fleeting touches and glances in public while they embrace each other more opening in private.
It’s a really good trailer that is heavy on atmosphere, something that’s helped by the ambient music that plays in the background. Only the barest hints of the plot are included here, but that’s fine since this is just about setting the tone and building awareness.
The theatrical trailer starts out by doing some world-building. So we see people walking around in their monochromatic world doing their jobs, whatever they are. An announcement tells people to report it immediately if they’re feeling more sensitive, which is followed by a shot of a jumper falling past a window. Nia and Silas begin exchanging meaningful glances and someone warns them that this is dangerous, warnings they basically ignore as they become more and more attached. But their actions do garner some attention and the risks increase, leading them to make a decision about their future. But the ending of the trailer hints that things don’t turn out well for the couple, at least not easily.
Like the teaser, this is heavy on atmosphere and setting but it’s greatly improved by offering more of the story. Not that it needs to explain every single plot point, but this helps provide a little more substance for the viewer to latch onto. Also, I’m not sure how much screen time they actually get here but I immediately want more info on the characters played by Jackie Weaver and Guy Pearce.
Online and Social
There’s not much of anything on the official website, pretty much just the trailer and links to the social profiles for the movie. Those networks, including Facebook and Twitter, have promotional countdown images, video clips, trailers, links to early reviews and more. Nothing overly unique or original, just doing what they need to do on this front.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve been able to find. It’s not a huge release so I’m not surprised there aren’t any TV spots readily available but I would expect that at some point in the next few days there will be at least some online advertising done to drive to ticket sales.
Media and Publicity
Stewart talked at the movie’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere about how the themes of the story mirrored her own personal emotional journey, which generated plenty of press.
Director Drake Doremus talked here and there about the futuristic love story of the movie, creating the society the story takes place in and more. Later on Stewart and Hout, along with Doremus, talked about working on the movie, the chemistry between the two actors and what they were trying to say with the story.
As I mentioned before, there’s a nice line being walked in this campaign between selling a science-fiction story and just selling a character-driven drama. Occasionally it veers to one side or the other, but for the most part it keeps the focus on the characters and not the premise, which is a solid call. That’s because the concept is both simple to explain and hard to understand, at least without adding “…and a 15 year old girl is attempting to bring the totalitarian leader down.”
It’s obviously not a huge campaign but it does know what it’s selling, which is primarily the performance by Stewart. Hoult too, but Stewart is the one really in the spotlight here and it looks like her character drives much of the action. So by selling a high-concept movie based on a strong performance from a well-regarded lead and taking advantage of the positive buzz coming out of early screenings, it’s likely this movie will do will in limited, specialty release.