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Movie Marketing Madness: Paris Can Wait

The new movie Paris Can Wait stars Diane Lane and Alex Baldwin as, respectively, Anne and Michael. The two have been married for a while and love each other, but the excitement is gone, largely because he’s a successful movie producer who’s detached and inattentive to his wife. Still, they get on and have a happy marriage.

While visiting France on a trip, Michael has to fly back to Paris sooner than expected. Anne is scared of flying and is offered a car ride by Jacques (Arnaud Viard), an associate of Michael’s. What should have been a straightforward drive, though, turns into a two-day long series of sidetracks and unexpected stops as Jacques shows Anne the French countryside. That breaks her out of her bubble and reminds her of all the cultural and other wonders she now fears she’s missing out on.

The Posters

The movie’s poster follows a familiar format: It shows Lane looking breezy and relaxed as she walks along the street outside a small village, a smile on her face. That she’s carrying her shoes is meant to convey that she’s carefree and enjoying life. A positive critical quote takes up a good chunk of the sky above the village to help bolster everyone’s perception that this is a can’t-miss performance from Lane.

I say this is a familiar format because it’s been used before, including to sell movies starring Lane. Look at the one-sheet for 2003’s Under the Tuscan Sun and it’s the same idea. That’s just one example and I’m sure there are others, but the point is that there’s a formula for selling movies about middle-aged women rediscovering themselves in a foreign country and the team here knows how to fit their efforts into it.

The Trailers

The first trailer isn’t bad. We meet Anne and Michael, who are in a good if unexciting marriage. The two are traveling Europe and are going to return to Paris but they decide to head back separately because he has work to do. So she hitches a ride with Jaques, a friend of Michael’s. The two explore the countryside, going to restaurants, visiting art institutions, historical sites and more. That makes the trip to Paris much longer than expected but also much more fulfilling.

There are hints that the drive with Anne and Jaques leads to something more romantic, but nothing overt. Much of the dialogue that’s shown here revolves around taking chances, whether or not she’s happy and other such personal topics. It’s easy to see this as being the latest in a series of movies about women over 40 finding unexpected love in a foreign country, but again there’s nothing that’s overtly hinted at so it may stay on this side of monogamy.

Online and Social

Sony Classics’ official website opens with the trailer, which you can watch again if you want to get your taste of the French lifestyle.

Close that and the splash page uses the key art, with a big prompt at the bottom to buy tickets in one of the two cities it’s opening in this weekend. Below that are links to the movie’s Twitter and Facebook profiles as well as the studio’s YouTube and Tumblr.

Move up to the top of the page and you’ll see a menu that takes you to sections you can also access just by scrolling down the page. The first one there is “Synopsis,” which gives you a brief overview of the story. That’s followed by “Cast “ and Filmmakers” sections that give you a list of those involved in the movie’s making. The “Gallery” has 10 stills, including a behind-the-scenes shot.

Throughout the site are interstitials that let you explore the journey that the pair take and the menu of food they sample along the way. There are also just big photos that break up the sections of content.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen, but it’s likely there’s been some targeted online advertising in New York and Los Angeles since that’s where it’s opening this weekend.

Media and Publicity

Shortly after it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival the movie scored a distribution deal from Sony Pictures Classics. It also later screened at Tribeca.

There was actually a pretty decent press push for the movie, mostly from Lane and first-time director Eleanor Coppola. Lane talked about her career in general and making this movie specifically, including how she signed on in large part because she wanted to work with Coppola.

It was also part of some larger narratives that emerged, including how it’s one of a few movies for older audiences that are coming from largely female filmmaking teams. The director also got some press for herself that focused on how this is a departure for her from the documentaries she usually directs.

Overall

If it weren’t someone as series as Eleanor Coppola, who has a legit track record and who apparently based this (in part) on actual events, I’d imagine the pitch for this movie went something like “It’s Eat Pray Love meets The Trip.” That’s certainly the vibe it gives off and while there’s little doubt Lane is fantastic in the role it’s hard to get too excited about another story of a white lady who’s just kind of vaguely unfulfilled in life and so ventures through the European vistas. We’ve seen this movie before, whether it starts Julia Roberts, Patricia Clarkson or any other talented actor who’s better than the material.

As for the campaign itself, it’s fine. It delivers exactly the value proposition you’d expect it to, that the movie will be filled with images of wonderful French culture and delicious food just waiting to be Instagrammed. There’s nothing all that substantive here and as I said the focus is on the adventure Anne has, not the potential for an extramarital fling that may be lurking under the surface. The marketing sells the movie as a form of idyllic dreamscape for anyone who might be feeling similarly quashed as Lane’s character, which is the main message it needed to convey.

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