Jason Sudeikis plays Henry in the new movie The Book of Love. Henry is an architect who’s very much in love with his wife Penny (Jessica Biel), who’s always pushing him to do more and be more in the most loving way. One day the two of them see a young homeless girl (Maisie Williams) outside their house but they don’t do anything to get involved with her.
That changes after Penny is killed suddenly in a car accident. Henry falls into a bit of depression but again sees the girl and decides to take some kind of action in part to honor his late wife. So the two begin an unconventional relationship, mainly focused around him helping her to build a boat she’s long been planning.
The movie’s first poster is…not great. Williams and Sudeikis are shown standing on the edge of a pier, which plays into the movie. She’s looking at him skeptically, like she’s still sizing him up while he’s looking off into the distance in a pose that’s clearly lifted from a scene other than this one. In the background the ghostly face of Biel watches over the scene, so it’s clear she’s dead. It’s just not a great design and the “How far would you go for a lost love?” copy is so vague it doesn’t do much to help clear up any questions the audience might have about the story.
The first trailer (which debuted on “Entertainment Tonight”) sets up the three or four foundational elements of the story pretty well. We meet Henry and Penny and get a sense of the dynamic in their marriage. Then we meet Millie and get a bit of information as to her situation, which Henry clearly disrupts. After causing problems in her life, Millie turns to him for help because she has no other options. Everything is interrupted by the death of Penny, but that just reinforces the bond that’s forming between Henry and Millie, with him helping her with her project and her helping him find some direction in his life.
Putting aside Williams’ accent, this looks like it’s being sold as a slightly funny tearjerker of a movie. Sudeikis continues to turn in interesting and dramatic performances and it’s clear this role plays to his quick-witted strengths. It’s too bad there’s so little of Biel here as the main effect of the trailer is to make me want to watch a whole movie based on the marriage being shown off here.
Online and Social
There doesn’t appear to be an official stand-alone website for the movie. But there was a Facebook page and a Twitter profile where a few updates were shared that encouraged people to pre-order on iTunes, upcoming cast appearances were promoted and more.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing much of anything here. I haven’t seen any online ads, though I’m assuming some online ads were run to push people to pre-order on iTunes or take some other action.
Media and Publicity
Just before the movie had its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival Sudeikis and Biel talked about what drew them to the movie, the experience of shooting it and how it was to work on tragic material like this. At the same time a clip was released to keep the conversation going.
The movie underwent a name change from The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea to its current, much more generic name just before it appeared at more festivals.
Both Biel and Sudeikis made a couple of talk show appearances and those formed the core of the pre-release publicity push.
It’s a low-key campaign that verges on disappointing. Sudeikis’ charm keeps the trailer from falling apart, but the poster isn’t great and there’s no official website, which means there’s no owned source for people to go to if they want to find out more about the movie before downloading it. That’s not helped by the social profiles that haven’t gained much traction in terms of audience and following.
If we focus on the trailer the movie looks pretty charming, based largely on Sudeikis’ performance. He’s the central point and value proposition for the movie. We can take issue with the story, which fridges Penny in order to spur Henry into some sort of actions outside his comfort zone, but it is what it is. That central trailer is pretty funny and heartwarming but if the audience hasn’t seen that, there’s not much to build any appeal.