Writer/director Christopher Guest is back with his latest comedic fictional documentary (I’m no longer using *that* word), Mascots. Like some of his previous movies, this one dives into a very specific if largely fictionalized niche community to profile the people who feel passionate about a particular interest. In this case, it’s the world of competitive mascoting, taking place at The Fluffies, the annual competition where mascots find out who’s the best of the best.
The movie is well stocked with Guest’s regular troupe of players as well as a few newcomers. Ed Begley Jr. and Jane Lynch play a married couple, he a former mascot himself, who judge the event alongside others played by Michael Hitchcock and Don Lake. Making up the lineup of mascots are Parker Posey, Chris O’Dowd, Zack Woods, Sarah Baker and a host of others. Let’s take a look at the marketing for Guest’s first theatrical directorial effort in a decade.
The poster does what it needs to do to sell the movie to an audience that’s likely already on board for whatever Christopher Guest puts out. Most of the primary cast is on display here, some half in costume, standing on a riser in front of a curtain so as to make it clear there’s some sort of performance involved in the story. “From the sidelines to the spotlight” is the copy toward the bottom, telling us that this is all about the mascots who entertain us between innings/quarters/periods.
The first trailer was simple and served mostly as an announcement for the release date. It’s basically an explanation of the prize – the Gold Fluffy – that the mascots competing against each other are striving for. The spot mentions it comes from the director of Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman but doesn’t actually name Guest. Still, it’s a nice setup.
The trailer is…well, it’s magnificent. Without going into too much detail, it’s filled with the kind of interviews and other scenes that are the stock of Guest’s filmography. All his usual players plus a few new additions on on display here. We get just enough of the story about all the mascots heading to and taking part in the Fluffies, the industry awards, to let us know what’s going on without spoiling much of anything.
If you don’t blink you’ll catch a brief shot of Guest himself as Corky St. Clair, his character from Waiting For Guffman who was earlier reported to appear. It’s just great and anyone who’s a fan of the director’s work should be absolutely charmed and won over by this trailer.
Online and Social
No website, largely because this is a Netflix release. The movie’s gotten limited support on their Facebook page and Twitter profile over the last few months, but nothing major.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
I’m sure there has been some online advertising done but if so I haven’t seen it. Nothing on TV, though.
Media and Publicity
The movie was among those which debuted or otherwise screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was very well received and gained significant buzz.
The normally press-averse Guest came out of his shell a bit in this interview, where he talked about the genesis of this project, how he refers to the cinematic style he usually works in and the way he selects actors for his projects. Some of the movie’s cast also weighed in on working with Guest and this movie in particular.
As usual with Netflix releases, this isn’t a robust campaign, with the number of elements in line with other movies it has put out counting the poster, both trailers and lack of a website. There was slightly more press activity, though, likely the result of the movie’s festival screenings, which Netflix was savvy to arrange. There’s also the natural interest, particularly in comedy geek circles, that comes with anything new from Guest and his crew.
The movie being sold looks very much in line with Guest’s previous movies. The tone and feel on display in the campaign here will be instantly familiar to fans of Best In Show, Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind. So the objective here is apparently to turn out the legion of fans Guest has accumulated over the years. How much this will resonate with those outside that group remains to be seen.