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Movie Marketing Madness: Christine

christineOne of the more disturbing stories from the world of media is that of Christine Chubbuck, a Florida news reporter who was suffering from depression to the extent that she committed suicide during a live news broadcast in 1974. Chubbuck’s story is now being dramatized in the new movie Christine, starring Rebecca Hall in the title role, which follows her in her career at the TV station through her on-air suicide and in the immediate aftermath of her actions.

The movie comes at an unusual time because it follows another movie about Chubbuck called Kate Plays Christine. While this movie takes a more straight-forward narrative approach, Kate Plays… was a mix of documentary, faux behind-the-scenes footage and more. So it’s a moment when this story is hot and this movie needs to differentiate itself in the marketplace. So let’s see how it’s being sold.

The Posters

The first poster establishes the setting for the movie pretty effectively. Hall is alone and sitting in the middle of the image behind a news desk, an old microphone in front of her and a wall of monitors behind her. Off to the sides of the background look, in context, like test pattern-type color bars. So we’ve clearly seen this is taking place in some sort of TV studio setting. The movie’s festival credentials are on either side of the title and some critical praise is at the top but, interestingly, there’s nothing here about this being based on a true story, which seems odd.

The Trailers

We meet Christine in the first trailer as she’s working as the human interest reporter at a local TV station. She’s frustrated by her career’s lack of forward momentum and is straining under the demands of her boss, who demands sensationalistic stories to grab viewer’s attention. That sets up a shift as we see Christine is given to extreme dark mood swings where she vents about not being heard. The trailer ends with her on air and promising the audience a television first that’s in line with the station’s emphasis on “blood and guts.”

Yikes, this looks dark. Hall is obviously the star here and she hits all kinds of emotions in the footage on display. The trailer sets up a grim, moody story about a troubled woman and how the triggers around her push her to take drastic action in an effort to be noticed. Not for the faint of heart but certainly intriguing to anyone who’s a fan of Hall or this kind of story in general.

Online and Social

The only online presence to be found for the movie is a Facebook page where the studio has been sharing various images and other graphics along with the trailer, a few news stories about the movie and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’m aware of.

Media and Publicity

The movie debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was in the odd position of being one of two movies on the same subject, with this one taking a dramatic approach while Kate Plays Christine offered a straight documentary approach to the story. Star Rebecca Hall and the rest of the cast and crew talked about the story and what drew them to the material.

Production still from set of CHRISTINE, 2015

The movie was later added to the lineup of the Toronto International Film Festival.

A big feature with Hall covered why she took the role, what she thought about the true life character she’s playing, working on the production and more. That, along with working with the rest of the cast and crew, continued to be the major theme of the press coverage.

Overall

There’s a lot to like about the campaign, even if it’s not a huge marketing push. While many of the elements are stylistically interesting, though, it’s not an easy movie that’s being sold here. The campaign promises a dark and unpleasant time at the theater, which isn’t an easy message to sell the audience. But as much of the press pointed out, stories of troubled males have been a staple of cinema for as long as there have been movies, so it’s about time more female stories made their way to the screen.

To counter that, the campaign is relying on the word-of-mouth that’s come out of Sundance and which has been sustained through subsequent festival screenings to turn out the select audience. There’s little about the actual campaign that will do that – it’s largely for building awareness among the masses – even if the trailer and poster are both solid efforts.

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