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Movie Marketing Madness: The Space Between Us

space_between_usWe’re going back to Mars in this week’s new release The Space Between Us. Far from an attempt to rescue Matt Damon, this new movie is about a young man’s journey from the red planet to connect with the life he never knew on Earth. Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) was born on Mars after his astronaut mother only became aware she was pregnant after taking off on her journey there. She dies in childbirth, though, leaving Gardner to be raised by the other members of the team, who are there for the long-haul.

Now a teenager, Gardner has some contact with Earth, though, especially a connection with Tulsa (Britt Robertson), a young woman who doesn’t really believe his story. Eventually he’s able to return to Earth and he seeks her out, starting a journey of self-exploration for the two of them as Gardner seeks to find his father, whose identity was never told to him. Tragedy lurks, though, as the scientists responsible for Gardner realize his organs, which adapted for Mars’ environment, can’t handle Earth’s atmosphere.

The Posters

The first poster is all about making sure the audience knows this is an emotional journey of some sort. Butterfield is decked out in some kind of astronaut gear, his helmet off of course so we can see his face, as he walks through a field of grass and flowers, a blazing sunset in the background. “What’s your favorite thing about earth?” the copy at the top asks, setting up the idea that he – or someone – isn’t actually from here.

The Trailers

“I want to go to Mars” we hear as the trailer opens and we see a mission is being prepped to send six astronauts to Mars to live there, not just visit and return. On the way one of them becomes pregnant but the woman dies while the son lives, spending his entire life on the planet, something he starts to push back against. Eventually he’s brought back to Earth, but he’s then confined to a hospital room. He breaks free, though, to meet with a girl he’s been video-calling with over the years, a girl who takes him on all sorts of new adventures. Those adventures are cut short, though, when he can’t handle being in Earth gravity for so long.

There are some overt references to other Mars films here – “Bring him home” being shouted by BD Wong among them – but for the most

There are some overt references to other Mars films here – “Bring him home” being shouted by BD Wong among them – but for the most part this sells the movie as a YA romance that happens to involve a space travel element. It’s super emotional and what plot points aren’t spelled out by the trailer are easy to guess at. For those fans it will work, for others it won’t.

The second trailer is much more focused on the relationship between Gardner and Tulsa, starting out showing them video chatting, with her not quite knowing that he’s actually on Mars. After some quick back and forth among the scientists, he’s back on Earth and on his way to find Tulsa. She agrees to take him on a road trip to find his father, which gives them a chance to spend time together. But again we see his physiology isn’t suited for Earth and things quickly turn south for him, even as the scientists responsible for the mission try and track him down to save his life. 

It’s sweet and moving and all that. It’s basically being sold as a variation on The Fault in Our Stars, with a girl trying to save the dying boy, who’s too sensitive for his own health. This is meant to appeal directly to the teen and younger audience who has made other such movies a success.

One more short trailer wasn’t all that different, again not focusing on the Mars aspect of the story but more on the YA romance angle, which makes sense.

Online and Social

The movie’s official website has the standard layout from STX, starting with the key art at the top along with links to the official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles along with a prompt to watch the trailer again.

Scroll down and the “Videos” section has both trailers and a couple of TV spots. After that there’s a “Sweepstakes” section that has information on how to enter by sharing what one thing about Earth you would want to share with someone who didn’t know about it.

The “About the Film” section has a synopsis along with cast list and the name of the director. Finally, there’s a “Gallery” of a few images.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this one started running a bit out from release that focused not so much on the whole “the kid was born and raised in space” thing but instead on the teenage romance between the two main characters and the raise to save Gardner. It works hard to fit in as much angst as possible, positioning it in the same vein as The Fault in Our Stars and similar stories.

Online ads were surely run in some measure.

Media and Publicity

The cast and crew talked at the movie’s premiere about the story, getting into character and more. That seems to be about it in terms of a major press push. There were other comments from the cast here and there and some conversations around the release of marketing materials like the trailers but that seems to be the extent of things.

THE SPACE BETWEEN US

Overall

There’s a good reason the movie has become known as “The Fault In Our Mars” or some such like that. It’s a young adult type tale of star-crossed love that’s fated to end badly but which is just so heartwarming that you don’t mind watching the story. It’s a story we’ve seen before and the movie is clearly trying to latch on to the trend of space exploration stories that have proven to be so popular recently.

The marketing makes sure to include as many allusions to those other movies as possible. There’s “bring him home” that’s cribbed right from the marketing for The Martian and lots more. It’s not to say there’s nothing original here, it’s just that it looks like a standard YA love story that’s had moderately sci-fi elements tacked on to make it part of a larger trend. All the usual elements of the YA genre are here, selling the movie effectively to the audience that might be interested.

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