Movie Marketing Madness: The Lovers

Debra Winger and Tracey Letts star in the new slightly-dark romantic drama The Lovers, getting a limited release this week. The pair play Mary and Michael, a long-married couple whose relationship has grown comfortable and stale, predictable and uninspiring, with each one feeling like the other barely sees him or her. It’s gotten to the point where both are having affairs and are on the verge of leaving the marriage.

But then something happens and the pair find a spark that was long-thought dormant has been reignited. The two start essentially cheating on their lovers with their spouse, surprising them and causing problems in their extramarital affairs. That push and pull between what might be exciting and what’s newly refreshed creates the tension and comedy in the story.

The Posters

The poster does a decent job of setting up the premise of the story, with Winger and Letts sitting on opposite sides of a couch staring off at something, likely TV, each with a glass of wine in hand. It’s meant to show that they’ve drifted apart and are just existing together. The copy hints at how things turn out, though, by telling us it’s “A love so strong it can survive marriage.”

The Trailers

We meet Mary and Michael when the first trailer opens and see that their marriage is less than thrilling. Both, it turns out, are having affairs and are struggling with how to finally break off there marriage to be with their other lovers. One day they find themselves reconnecting, making plans, flirting and so on. That causes problems in their other relationships and the rest of the trailer is about them coming to terms with the situations they find themselves in.

It’s kind of a fun trailer, showing interesting performances from both Winger and Letts as a pair that’s surprised by this strange turn of events. The story is pretty basic – we’ve seen this before – but it looks well executed and interesting.

Online and Social

Unfortunately, there’s not much to the movie’s web presence. It’s just a page on the A24 site that has the trailer, a synopsis and the poster.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing here. There might be some online ads targeted to the markets the movie is released in as it’s rolled out but there was no big ad spending going on.

Media and Publicity

The movie was one of those announced as screening at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, where it garnered pretty solid buzz and word of mouth. That was about it, at least prior to release, without any major press push featuring either Winger or Letts.

Overall

This obviously isn’t the biggest campaign of the month or week but it still works, especially for those members of the audience who are attuned for smaller character dramas as this one appears to be. The focus is clearly on Letts and Winger, who each show that they’re turning in great work as the distant married couple who finds that happiness appears to be right in front of them, the last place they were going to look.

Since it’s not a huge push it’s hard to gauge how consistent it is with itself. But the poster and trailer both feature a pleasant, lived in feel that’s covered in browns and other earth tones. The beige shirts that both characters wear exude the feel of the marketing, which shows a colorless existence that’s only brought to life by embracing the situation you’re in. If nothing else, the campaign makes it clear we need more Debra Winger in the movies.

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Movie Marketing Madness: Free Fire

The meeting between two or more groups of gangsters or other questionable characters is usually just one small part of a larger story. This week’s new release Free Fire, though, makes that the central element of the entire story. The movie stars Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Sharlito Copley and others are mobsters and other toughs who gather in an abandoned warehouse for a meeting to buy and sell some guns.

Things quickly get out of hand as no one trusts anyone else in the room. The situation descends into a shootout that pits everyone against each other, with sides and allegiances shifting as the situation evolves and everyone just wants to get out alive. The premise and main marketing hook, as we’ll see, is that what otherwise is an eight minute segment of a normal movie dispenses with all that backstory and cuts, for lack of a better phrase, to the chase for the entirety of the story.

The Posters

The first poster is kind of great. There’s not a lot to it, visually, just a bunch of arms sticking out from the middle of the background, each one clutching some type of gun. It’s simple but it both shows the major point of the movie – that it’s centered around an epic shout-out – and conveys a unique sense of humor, reducing each character to just the purpose they serve in the story, which is to shoot at the other characters.

A fun series of character posters were released next. Each one featured the name of the character and the actor that plays him or her, each image sporting a different color and a bullseye like what’s found in a shooting range overlaid on their chest. It’s funky and conveys the sense of humor and the violent story that are apparent in the rest of the marketing.

The theatrical poster continues the fun, with the main cast arrayed around the one-sheet, all of them pointing their guns at the person next to him or her. “All guns. No control” is the copy above the title treatment.

“All guns, no control” is the copy on yet another poster that shows all the characters, armed to the teeth, popping out from the middle of the design featuring the title and more.

The Trailers

It’s hard to even try and describe the insanity on display in the first trailer. It starts out with both parties arriving at a gun sale, but it becomes evident the wrong guns were brought. Feeling get hurt, egos wounded, pride dinged and it devolves into a massive shootout between the would-be buyers and sellers.

That’s it. That’s the trailer. It sounds simple but it’s a ton of fun, playing like a fever dream from Danny Boyle or Quentin Tarantino or someone like that. It’s all violence and jokes from a bunch of self-interested characters in wild 70s garb.

Online and Social

There’s not much to the official website, which isn’t unusual for A24 releases. The key art is in the middle of the page and rotates as you move your mouse around, which is cool. Alongside that are prompts to either watch the trailer or get tickets.

Other than that the only two other items here. First is a “Create a Poster” tool that lets you upload your own picture and place it in the design of the target-themed character posters. Then the “Check out the Merch” section takes you to character spotlights that have images and video fro each of the major players in the story.

There’s a Facebook page as well, but it’s not linked to from the main site, which just promotes the main A24 brand profiles on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing in the way of TV spots that I’ve been exposed to or can find. Online and social advertising has been done using the key art and trailer, respectively, to drive views, sell tickets and generally raise awareness.

Media and Publicity

A still showing off a first look at the cast constituted the beginnings of the publicity campaign. The movie later started making the festival rounds, beginning with a premiere as the closing film at the London Film Festival. It also was announced as one of the movies screening at SXSW Film, where it received decent reviews and generated some good buzz.

Closer to release the cast, including Larson and Hammer, made various press rounds. But as is often the case the conversations and headlines focused more on the franchise films they’re involved in than this movie in particular. So Larson, who had just done a round of publicity for Kong: Skull Island, wound up commenting on the upcoming Captain Marvel movie she’s starring in. Hammer too talked about the potential for an upcoming Man From UNCLE sequel and other topics,

Overall

You have to love, on some level, the audacity of making the gunfire that should be a side story into the primary element of an entire feature length film. Like I said above, this is the kind of movie that takes the clips you’re always looking up on YouTube from Tarantino, Coen Bros. and other movies and extends it out to the whole thing. It looks fun and frantic, with a dry sense of humor that acknowledges the ridiculousness of the situation but still asks you to buy into it completely.

What I find notable about the campaign is that for all its outrageousness it never loses the focus on the stars. Larson, Hammer and Copley among others are still very much in the spotlight here and are turning in what look to be funny performances. It particularly makes me want to see Larson do more straight-up comedy as her reactions and line-readings are pitch perfect, as are that of Hammer, though we’ve seen him in this kind of role before. If you’re a fan of high-concept violent comedy, this looks to be a solid choice.

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A24 Teases Untitled Project


Wrote a post for Adfreak about the mysterious “untitled” trailer that came out yesterday and which has everyone talking.

Yesterday, A24—the studio behind recent eccentric word-of-mouth-driven movies like The Lobster, Moonlight and Swiss Army Man—released a mysterious trailer. Listed simply as “Untitled,” there’s little else that’s known about the movie, or whatever this is, other than it takes place “in our near future,” according to Facebook and Twitter posts from the studio.

Source: A24 Drops Untitled Trailer for Mysterious, Reality-Bending Movie | Adweek

Movie Marketing Madness: 20th Century Women

twozeroth_century_womenStories of clashing generations are nothing new, but the trope is getting a fresh take at the box off with 20th Century Women, the new movie from writer/director Mike Mills, who based it off his relationship with his own mother. Set during the turbulent 1970s, the movie stars Annette Bening as Dorothea, a woman born in the early part of the 20th century who’s never accepted the status quo but has pushed her and the world around her every chance she’s gotten.

Her unconventional (for the time) attitude is causing stress in her relationship with her teenage son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann). He’s rebelling in his own way and seeking out friends and a network of his own, making his own mistakes and experimenting. That brings him into contact with Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited photographer and Julie (Elle Fanning) among others, who give him new perspectives, opinions and experiences.

The Posters

The poster for the movie sells it strongly as an ensemble drama, with the full cast arrayed on a beach, lens flares adding a nice artistic element to it. A series of smaller photos at the top showing the birth control pill, Jimmy Carter and other items are meant to help set the time period of the story. The whole thing looks like a modern catalog cover to a high-end consumer brand, right down to the typeface used for the title. It’s slick and cool looking.

The Trailers

The first trailer is pretty great. It opens with a televised speech from Pres. Jimmy Carter where he’s talking about the chase for material goods and how it doesn’t lead to happiness, immediately setting up one of the movie’s major themes, the quest to be happy. While that plays, footage of all the major characters is shown, letting the audience know this is a multigenerational drama that might move around between them but which uses Dorothea as its emotional core. So we see everything from teenage relationship drama to younger adults trying to lead their lives to Dorothea tying everything together.

Benning looks just fantastic in this. In addition to the story, the focus is on making sure the audience knows this comes from the director of Beginners, so it clearly has the arthouse in mind as its core target. There isn’t a whole lot of detail shared about what the story is, exactly, other than all the characters are concerned about being happy. That’s enough to get most of the target audience interested, though, considering the names involved both in front of and behind the camera.

The second trailer is not completely different, but it certainly presents a more traditional structure than the first. We see that Dorothea is trying to find some good role models for Jamie and enlists Abbie and Julie in that effort. So it’s all about trying to mold this young man into someone who respects women and is a good person, something Dorothea isn’t sure she can do on her own.

It’s great and conveys both the joy of the characters and the struggles they’re going through in the late 1970s. Again, Benning looks great here as does the rest of the cast. This one really allows for the movie’s sense of humor to come through, with lots of shots of characters dancing and otherwise having fun even while showing that it’s not all fun and games.

Online and Social

When you load the official website for the movie there are sections right there in the top left where you can buy tickets, watch the second trailer or find out about the “Cast.” When you click that last link you’re zoomed down the page there the cast’s names appear. Clicking any of those names brings up a section devoted to the character they play that’s full of GIFs and lines of dialogue from them that you can share via Twitter or Facebook.

Over on the right hand side of the front page there are also links to the movie’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Scroll down the main page and there’s an assortment of GIFs, some from the movie some from the era that the movie takes place in, along with quotes from critics praising the movie in advance of release.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this one condensed the themes of the trailer, making it clear that it’s a story of a mother and son and that it’s dramatic yet also funny. It also absolutely sells Bening as the focal point of the story.

The second trailer was used in social ads on Twitter and Facebook to help build awareness for the movie. There may have been other online ads run as well but I’m not aware of them. No promotional partners or anything along those lines.

Media and Publicity

The movie got a nice initial liftoff in the word-of-mouth category when it was announced as the Centerpiece film at the 2016 New York Film Festival.

Mills later talked about how he approached the story, specifically how he got in the mindset of Bening’s character, who’s modeled after his own mother. How Mills developed the story and what his personal connection to the material continued to be the focus of the press with interviews like this.

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It was great when Gerwig got a profile all to herself about her recent roles in this movie as well as the recent Jackie, which let her talk about how she got into these characters and working with Mills. There were also a number of opportunities for Bening to talk herself about her character, working with Mills, her career to date and lots more.

Overall

This movie seems…vital. Like this is the kind of perspective we need to see more of in the world, something about irrepressible women who are shaping the lives and minds of those around them while giving zero fucks about other people’s opinions. That’s how the movie was marketed as the story of a boy who’s grown up in a world dominated by women not because that was the only way but because it…well, it just kind of worked.

From a purely marketing-focused perspective, there’s some great brand consistency on display. Those big white letters that are used in the title treatment show up in the trailer, on the posters and elsewhere, making it a seamless campaign. But more than that, the story on display in the trailers is a strong one, one that promises to introduce characters that are wonderfully human and flawed and that we’ll enjoy spending time with. Bening is out to prove once more that she’s the reigning queen and Gerwig is always a joy to watch.

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Movie Marketing Madness: Moonlight

moonlight_ver2Trevante Rhodes plays Chiron in Moonlight, the new movie from writer/director Barry Jenkins. Chiron is a young man struggling with identity and his place in the world. The movie follows him from his troubled youth through his teen years and into adulthood as he first deals with the imperfect parents to the problems he faces as he begins to come into his own to his return to Miami to revisit the ghosts of his past.

Through all that Chiron is accompanied by his best friend Kevin (André Holland), who has his friends’ back at every turn. But it’s Chiron’s story we’re following as we see him deal with ideas of masculinity, sexuality, responsibility and more. It’s a very small and intimate story, following an emotional journey involving fulfilling expectations and assumptions in a world where those are always changing. Let’s see how it’s being sold.

The Posters

A triptych was the first poster released, showing the three leads looking at the camera, each with a different color light in the background but all three using the “This is the story of a lifetime” copy. That line, the way it’s phrased, is very specific. It’s not a big story like you’d expect when someone says it’s “the story of a lifetime,” like it’s some outsized event that is too ridiculous to be true but is. Instead it’s conveying that it’s the story of a single life, which is important no matter the scale.

moonlight

All three images were combined into a single image on the theatrical poster, each character getting a slice of the one-sheet with their identifying color scheme intact. The same copy is on display here and this one includes a full credit block at the bottom.

The Trailers

The first trailer is plenty emotional, striking a strong chord for the movie. The whole thing bounces back and forth from Chiron’s youth to the present day and makes it clear he’s constantly struggling with identity and trying to answer the question – asked by both himself and others – of who he is. As an adult he has come back to reconnect with family and friends but that’s only exacerbating the search he and others are on. We see in the flashbacks that his father did what he could to toughen Chiron up but there are a couple scenes that hint as to why he got beat up in school and why exactly it is he’s hiding who he really is from everyone around him.

It’s a gut-punch of a trailer. Trevante Rhodes looks to give an outstanding performance as Chiron here in the telling of a story that gets to the core of the issue of being true to yourself versus living up to someone else’s expectations of who you are or should be. Just great.

Online and Social

The movie’s official website is pretty simple but maintains the striking visuals of the poster. It opens by playing the trailer, which is also the first option in the menu that’s visible to the right when the trailer stops playing. “About” has a story synopsis that offers less insights and explanation than it does full lay out the story, which is good for a movie like this. Finally on the site, “Acclaim” has pull quotes from some of the glowing reviews that have come out of festival and other screenings.

There were also Facebook and Twitter profiles for the movie where A24 shared promotional images, some interviews with Jenkins and early reviews from festivals and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing on either front, but I would assume there will be some online ads to promote release, particularly if/when it goes wider in coming weeks.

Media and Publicity

The movie was announced as a late addition to the Toronto International Film Festival’s Platform lineup. While the movie was appearing there, a substantial profile of star Travante Rhodes was published where he talked about the challenges of the role, what other actors he admires and more.

moonlight-movie-trailer-01

Jenkins, of course, got some attention in the press push with interviews like this one where he talked about the nature of the story, his return to feature directing after eight years and other topics. Holland and the rest of the cast also spoke about how they signed on to the movie, the themes they were most drawn to and working with Jenkins. There was also a significant interview with Jenkins where he talked about how this was actually an adaptation of someone else’s story.

The movie also appeared on lots of “most anticipated movies of fall” lists, helping with awareness in the general movie-going public.

Overall

The movie’s personal focus and touch really comes through in this campaign. Everything here is focused on making sure the potential audience sees that it’s a human story with a very small scale, focusing on Chiron’s journey and emotions. The trailer, the press push and the posters all work to make it clear the spotlight will never leave him and his struggle for identity and acceptance.

Not only the thematic elements but also the visuals are all in line in the campaign. The mood and tone is really set by the posters, which feature the close-up faces and colorful backgrounds, a look that’s carried over to the website in particular. The whole campaign, though, looks like it’s pulled from the same color palette, with shades of blue permeating the entire push.

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Movie Marketing Madness: Morris From America

morris_from_americaWant to get Movie Marketing Madness via email? Sign up here. Then connect with MMM on Twitter and Facebook.

There’s a lot that goes into building an identity for ourselves. Where is it we call home? What kind of movies or music do we like? What are our values and traditions? What hobbies do we have? They call go into who we consider ourselves to be and what persona it is that’s projected out to the world. Change out circumstances in some meaningful way and our sense of self can be rocked pretty fundamentally, forcing us to not only to acclimate to new surroundings but also adjust our expectations of hopes, dreams and aspirations based on where we find ourselves.

That’s the situation facing the title character in Morris From America. Morris (Markees Christmas) is a 13-year old who’s been relocated to Heidelberg, Germany when his father Curtis (Craig Robinson), a professional soccer coach, is relocated there. It’s a whole new situation for Morris, who dreams of being a big time rapper, as Germany is far removed from the neighborhood and lifestyle he’s accustomed to. While there, though, Morris develops a crush on a young girl at his school who eventually helps him get used to his new home as well as actually take some steps toward achieving his rap career.

The Posters

The one poster tells us “Nothing rhymes with Germany,” which is a funny line in and of itself. The main image is Robinson looking very serious as Christmas shoots a water gun up in the air. So there are a couple different things here telling us that the movie is in some manner about current or aspiring rappers who are translated from their native America to Germany. It’s simple but it gets the message across.

There were a couple more posters released that were “alternate” versions, seemingly meant to drum up publicity and not be used as actual one-sheets. The one shows Morris from behind striking a gangster-type pose, the movie’s title and cast names written out here like paint brush strokes, this time using the copy “He’s come a long way.” The other just shows a silhouette of Morris’ head, with a string of ray lyrics making up the wires of the headphones we see are coming out of his ears. This time the title and cast are just kind of written as if they’re marker on a whiteboard of some sort and there’s no copy point on display.

The Trailers

The first trailer starts out by introducing us to Morris, who’s grounded by his father for liking terrible music. We see him practicing his German and find out his father brought them here for his job. Morris has aspirations as a rapper and soon becomes entranced by a young girl in his class. The two of them start spending more time together and Morris continues chasing his hip-hop dreams. We see some of the antics he gets into on both fronts and some of the trouble those antics result in.

It’s a really charming trailer that highlights the performances by Christmas and Robinson. It’s funny and romantic and kind of silly but it sells a compelling story, which is the point.

Online and Social

The trailer pops up after you load the official website and, yeah, take a couple minutes and rewatch it just to see how good both Christmas’ and Robinson’s performances appear to be. That unfortunately is half the site’s content, with the other half being a pretty well-written “About” section that offers a good synopsis of the story.

morris from america

The movie only had a Facebook page where the studio shared tips on being a gangsta, trailers and clips and lots more promotional items. No Twitter, but it did share space on the A24 studio profile.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing in this category that I’m aware of, though it’s very likely I’m missing some online advertising, either on the general web or on social networks.

Media and Publicity

The movie had a well-received coming out party at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it earned kudos for both Robinson’s and Christmas’s performances as well as being a novel take on the “coming of age” story formula.

Robinson talked here about why he was attracted to the story, including how it showed a father/son relationship he didn’t usually see in movies and elsewhere along with how he liked the hip-hop lifestyle portrayed in the story.

Just before release there was a wonderful profile of Christmas that covered how he got this role as well as his sometimes reluctant acting career and more.

Overall

This is one of those campaigns that coasts by on the charming, wonderfully unique nature of the premise and the characters. The trailer is well cut and the poster is fine, but it leans heavily on the breezy feeling of the story and the characters and is all the better for it. Christmas and Robinson play well off of each other, as it’s shown here and that’s the big draw, to come see that dynamic, especially from the unknown quantity of Christmas. It’s one of those campaigns that has an immediately identifiable attitude and style that sets it apart from the rest of the pack.

Which is what makes me wish it were hitting digital distribution platforms sooner or getting a wider release. This is an original story with some really interesting characters and messages and the limited release it’s likely getting means it runs the risk of being forgotten by the time it hits additional theaters or home video so more people can see it. Not that the campaign has gone far and wide – it’s relying on word-of-mouth more than advertising – but if enough people are talking about it and praising it, which seems to be the case, it could be one of those little movies that makes a big impact.

Movie Marketing Madness: Equals

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We’re in – actually we might just be coming out of – a golden age of dystopian fiction. Or so we’re told. Stories like The Hunger Games, The Giver and more all present societies that have been strictly engineered by forces largely unseen but whose government enforcers have laid out strict guidelines for people who are not encouraged to question the why behind those decisions. This trend is often largely overstated since it’s not as if the genre burst into life on Katnis’ coattails but has been around for quite a long time now, with novels like Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 and more, all playing notes in novels meant for adults that would be replayed later in young adult-oriented fiction and marketed to teens and tweens to sell them stories of unrequited or difficult love.

The new movie Equals is not based on an existing property, surprisingly enough, but it is about love in an oppressive quasi-futuristic society. Nicholas Hoult plays Silas and Kristen Stewart plays Nia, two members of an oppressive society that have eradicated emotions. After contracting an illness, the two begin to feel something, though, and come together over their shared experience, eventually running afoul of the authorities and needing to go on the run to protect the fire that’s been lit in them.

The Posters

The first – and only -poster is simple but shows quite a bit of the movie’s story if you know what you’re looking at. A man and woman are seen behind a window that obscures their figures in a romantic embrace. The actor’s names are at the top, the title treatment at the bottom and in the middle is the copy “Find your equal.”

Again, is seems very simple but if you are at all versed in sci-fi films you can easily see that this is some sort of dystopian future where love is either forbidden or engineered. So it works on that front.

The Trailers

The first trailer takes us straight into the world, showing Silas staring longingly at Nia. We see the futuristic world they live in, filled with stark backgrounds and cube-like residences. Nia and Silas start to feel something for each other, an event that clearly goes against the grain of what looks to be a conformist, emotionless society. So there are fleeting touches and glances in public while they embrace each other more opening in private.

It’s a really good trailer that is heavy on atmosphere, something that’s helped by the ambient music that plays in the background. Only the barest hints of the plot are included here, but that’s fine since this is just about setting the tone and building awareness.

The theatrical trailer starts out by doing some world-building. So we see people walking around in their monochromatic world doing their jobs, whatever they are. An announcement tells people to report it immediately if they’re feeling more sensitive, which is followed by a shot of a jumper falling past a window. Nia and Silas begin exchanging meaningful glances and someone warns them that this is dangerous, warnings they basically ignore as they become more and more attached. But their actions do garner some attention and the risks increase, leading them to make a decision about their future. But the ending of the trailer hints that things don’t turn out well for the couple, at least not easily.

Like the teaser, this is heavy on atmosphere and setting but it’s greatly improved by offering more of the story. Not that it needs to explain every single plot point, but this helps provide a little more substance for the viewer to latch onto. Also, I’m not sure how much screen time they actually get here but I immediately want more info on the characters played by Jackie Weaver and Guy Pearce.

Online and Social

There’s not much of anything on the official website, pretty much just the trailer and links to the social profiles for the movie. Those networks, including Facebook and Twitter, have promotional countdown images, video clips, trailers, links to early reviews and more. Nothing overly unique or original, just doing what they need to do on this front.

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Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve been able to find. It’s not a huge release so I’m not surprised there aren’t any TV spots readily available but I would expect that at some point in the next few days there will be at least some online advertising done to drive to ticket sales.

Media and Publicity

Stewart talked at the movie’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere about how the themes of the story mirrored her own personal emotional journey, which generated plenty of press.

Equals-Movie-Review

Director Drake Doremus talked here and there about the futuristic love story of the movie, creating the society the story takes place in and more. Later on Stewart and Hout, along with Doremus, talked about working on the movie, the chemistry between the two actors and what they were trying to say with the story.

Overall

As I mentioned before, there’s a nice line being walked in this campaign between selling a science-fiction story and just selling a character-driven drama. Occasionally it veers to one side or the other, but for the most part it keeps the focus on the characters and not the premise, which is a solid call. That’s because the concept is both simple to explain and hard to understand, at least without adding “…and a 15 year old girl is attempting to bring the totalitarian leader down.”

It’s obviously not a huge campaign but it does know what it’s selling, which is primarily the performance by Stewart. Hoult too, but Stewart is the one really in the spotlight here and it looks like her character drives much of the action. So by selling a high-concept movie based on a strong performance from a well-regarded lead and taking advantage of the positive buzz coming out of early screenings, it’s likely this movie will do will in limited, specialty release.

Movie Marketing Madness: Swiss Army Man

swiss_army_man_ver2What are your desert island necessities? What, if you were stranded by yourself without access to all the conveniences of modern life, would you want to make sure you still had with you, assuming you have the choice? These could be be records, books, movies or other items that are so important to you, you just can’t fathom not having access to them. While all this always makes for interesting discussion over a beer or two, what you really need are tools to hunt and fish with, the ability to create shelter and start a fire and more. You need to survive before you can enjoy the collected works of Jane Austin for the rest of your days.

What if all those necessary tools of survival came in one convenient corpse? That’s the premise of Swiss Army Man. Paul Dano plays Hank, who’s stranded on a deserted island and about to kill himself before nature does it for him. As he’s about to commit the deed, though, he notices a body that’s floated to shore. Naming his new friend Manny, Hank uses it as some kind of companion in his loneliness, soon discovering Manny has strange abilities like being able to shoot things out of his mouth, zoom along the water like a jetski and more. It’s all very unusual.

The Posters

swiss_army_manWell, there’s the movie right there on the first poster. Dano and Radcliffe sit back-to-back on a small island, the former looking at the camera and the latter slumped over because he’s a corpse. At the top is a short review quote and at the bottom is the copy “We all need some body to lean on,” the spacing there indicative of the story.

A second poster takes a different approach, showing Dano holding on to Radcliffe as the two of them zoom through a cloud, flying upward into the sky. It again has a pull quote about how unique the movie is and includes the “winner” label from its Sundance premiere.

The Trailers

The first trailer, which debuted a few months after Sundance, immediately establishes the premise by showing Hank about to commit suicide. He stops when he sees Manny’s body has washed up on the shore and when it goes to investigate he finds that yeah, it’s farting pretty loudly. But Hank quickly finds that Manny’s body is full of useful features, from being able to launch harpoons to spraying projectiles at fishes and so on. He takes Manny everywhere on the island he’s stranded on and finds he’s handy in all kinds of situations, culminating with him riding Manny across the sea, propelled by the corpse’s flatulence.

Well, the trailer certainly delivers on the promise established by the Sundance buzz and does present a movie that’s centered around, in one form or another, by a farting corpse. But it also shows it’s not *just* about that but has an emotional journey behind it as Hank searches for not only rescue but also some sort of emotional connection.

A red-band trailer followed a bit later that starts off once again as Hank is about to kill himself. But that changes when he finds Manny’s body, which he discovers can do all kinds of things. The red-band nature of this trailer comes mainly from the addition of one specific power Manny has, with his johnson being able to point the way home.

Like I said, this has lots of the same beats as the previous trailer and so works on mostly the same level. That one additional element that’s added is funny, but it doesn’t add a whole lot to the overall presentation. It did, though, generated a lot of headlines that used the word “boner” which was largely the point.

Online and Social

When you first load the official website all you get is the title treatment. Click on that, though, and Manny falls from the top and a dialogue bubble appears announcing he’s here to rescue you. From there you can grab him with your mouse and drag him all over the screen. Click on him and he farts. Prompts come up occasionally telling you he can do more than just lie there but you need to send a text to find out more.

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Other than that the only elements of the site are prompts to watch the trailer or buy the soundtrack.

The movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles have promotional images and videos, trailers, photos and more, including links to news stories about the movie and its cast and crew.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There was at least one TV spot created that showed how useful Manny is in a variety of situations. There’s nothing here about the story, it’s just about showing the absurdity of the things Manny can do to help Hank get out of his stranded situation.

I’m sure there were online ads run as well and would anticipate more being run in a couple weeks when the movie opens wider.

Media and Publicity

The movie debuted at Sundance, where it became one of the festival’s most divisive movies very quickly, with some calling it a really interesting exploration of loneliness and others walking out of screenings because they found it offensive and trashy. The hook of “fart movie” made for easy headlines, but a few sites and people chose to dive a bit deeper than that. It took a bit longer than for other movies but it was eventually picked up for distribution by A24.

Radcliffe talked a bit in the press about playing a corpse and the challenges is presented him as an actor. He also went on a publicity tour with his undead double, making for some surreal photo opportunities.

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The directing duo talked closer to release about how yes, this was a goofy premise for a movie and has led some people to call it strange and other terms. The story began, they admitted, as a joke and just kind of grew from there into a full feature film.

Overall

You have to kind of lean into the high-concept premise here when you’re trying to sell it. No, the story isn’t going to appeal to everyone and that’s alright. It’s a crazy notion – a corpse with super powers – that only works if you take the approach of saying “Yeah, we know. Let’s accept it and move on.” Luckily that’s exactly what the campaign does.

The trailers, posters, site and even the publicity campaign all state upfront that this is the most ridiculous movie you’ll see all year. That was the theme of the festival-generate buzz and it’s the core tenet of the marketing from A24. And it does look both ridiculous and pretty attractive if you’re into offbeat movies. No, this isn’t going to attract the same sort of crowd that’s anxious to see Central Intelligence this week but for moviegoers who like a little crazy in their viewing and look forward to the offbeat selections that come out every now and again, a title this certainly seems to have earned.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Lobster

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Usually when someone says they “need” to find a person to be with and love it’s a bit of an overstatement, an exaggeration to make a point. They may be lonely and really desiring someone to be with but there’s no actual physical danger that being alone puts us in. We will be alright tomorrow if we’re alone just like we will be if we’re with someone. More importantly, there’s a good chunk of people who decide to be alone as a lifestyle choice, opting for solitude over companionship and they suffer no ill effects.

In the new movie The Lobster the stakes are quite a bit higher. Citizens of a dystopian society are shuttled off to The Hotel, where they must find romantic love within 45 days or be turned into animals. The movie follows David (Colin Farrell) as he embarks on his time at The Hotel, where he’s accompanied by his brother, who’s been turned into a dog previously. With all sorts of pressures and situations to navigate in this forced situation David comes into contact with characters like Limping Man (John C. Reilly), Short-Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) and others as everyone stares down the deadline that’s looming over all of them.

The Posters

lobster_ver2There were two main posters for the movie, one featuring Farrell and one with Weisz. Both show the actor alone on the one-sheet against a blank background, in an embrace with a figure that’s been removed from the picture.

That’s it. There’s no copy point or tagline on them to explain what the movie is about or what the story is. It’s just that image, the title treatment, a Cannes competition logo and the credits. It’s pretty bold to try and sell the movie with no explanation as to what’s happening, but with a movie and a story like this, how could you come up with a <15 word bit of copy anyway?

More than that, it’s in keeping with the tone of the rest of the campaign to go the extreme minimalist route here. It’s selling a movie based on a tone and attitude more than laying out the story for the audience. That’s bold, but again this isn’t going to bring in the masses, it’s going to reinforce to a select audience what the movie is all about.

The Trailers

The movie’s first trailer sets up the premise rather well. We meet David as he’s checking in to a facility where the rules are laid out, that he needs to fall in love with someone or he’s going to turn into an animal. About halfway through though he goes off into the woods and meets another group of people that are living out there and whose rules are very different. The last third of the trailer is a montage of activity as David and the others engage in activities and so on.

It’s a pretty great trailer but the whole tone is sure to turn a lot of people off. It’s so dark and dry but with a hint of whimsy that I can easily see people being confused by. For those who are intrigued, though, it sells a movie that looks to be unique and interesting, though there’s always the possibility it falls apart in long-form execution.

A second trailer, released after A24 picked it up and put it on the release schedule again (more on that below), wasn’t too terribly different from the first. And just days before release a “mini trailer” was given to the A.V. Club that offers a bit more from the dance scene we’ve seen in other trailer.

Online and Social

The official website starts off with a nice tie to the movie by promising it is “The website that determines your second chance animal” and offers a test to determine what your animal should be. So you’re given a series of questions about your personality that range from innocuous to downright dark before you’re presented with a few options as to your animal. You can download or share the results on Twitter or Facebook.

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With the exception of options to watch the trailer or buy tickets, that’s it for the official site. That may seem like kind of a waste but considering how strongly this movie has relied and continues to rely on word of mouth it’s not that surprising. It’s better, the studio decided, to do something original that has a thematic tie to the movie’s story than to just do the same cast list and gallery that’s on every other site.

The movie did have a Facebook page and Twitter profile where the studio shared countdown promotional images, teases for the quiz that’s on the website, short video clips and more. Twitter also featured plenty of RTs of fans who were talking about how excited they were for the upcoming movie and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

No TV spots that I’m aware of. I think I saw some online and social ads run that used key art and trailers to sell the movie but can’t nail down anything specific. Nothing in terms of cross-promotional partners.

Media and Publicity

Before any formal marketing had started the movie did the festival circuit, including and most prominently Fantastic Fest, where it garnered positive reviews for being quirky and unusual in the best possible way. It did likewise at New York Film Festival later on. Unfortunately after that it was spiked by Alchemy because of that distributor’s financial problems. A24 eventually came to the rescue and put it on the release schedule with just a couple months of a cushion.

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Just before release there were a few interviews with the major stars talking about the movie and the unique story it has to tell. But nothing that said to me there was any sort of concerted press push, which I understand to an extent. The movie got plenty of press from its festival screenings and its appearance on many “Must Watch This Summer” type of lists so it didn’t lack for press coverage, all of which fed into a major word-of-mouth effort that focused on how it was such a unique movie that you really had to see to believe.

Overall

I don’t think I can overstate how much this campaign relies on word of mouth. It’s really counting on people talking about the movie to others to stoke not only enthusiasm but also just awareness of the film. There’s so much of that happening here that I need to state overtly that I’m giving a pass to whatever might be missing from the campaign. Not that there’s a lot that is actually missing – I would have liked to have seen a theatrical poster and the website, while clever, does nothing to sell the movie to anyone who’s not familiar with its festival circuit reputation – but I get that the studio is putting all its chips on that particular spot.

Despite those minor qualms, there’s so much to like here. True to the reputation it has worked up, the campaign sells a complex, darkly funny movie with some quirky performances. Seriously, everyone here is putting on some sort of caricature to heighten the the manner in which we’re told that this is a strange, foreign society. All those performances look fun, especially Farrell’s, and the movie looks like the kind of offbeat story we need in a sea of remakes and largely unoriginal stories being told.

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Movie Marketing Madness: Green Room

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The main idea behind most horror films is that danger can come from anywhere. It could be from something obvious like a big, nasty looking cave in the middle of the woods outside an abandoned village. It could be from the seemingly normal guy running the hotel who winds up hearing the murderous voice of his long-dead mother. It could be even be from within yourself as you unleash your dormant powers to control objects and set fire to the gym. The point is you never know where it’s going to be lurking and what form it’s going to take.

In the new movie Green Room danger certainly comes from an unexpected place. A punk band on tour in the Pacific Northwest arrives at a small club for their gig, which goes well enough. But after the show the band’s members stumble upon a murder that’s been committed. When they’re detained by the club’s staff they find that the business is a front for a group of neo-Nazis who are none too thrilled about being exposed like this. While the hate group’s leader (played by Patrick Stewart) figures out how to deal with the problem of witnesses the band’s members struggle not just to escape but to simply survive a situation that is getting increasingly surreal.

The Posters

The first poster sets up a violent story, to be sure. A lone figure is in a hallway that’s covered in graffiti – we can assume it’s some sort of club since that’s where these things usually are found and the door in back says “Band Members Only” – wielding a large knife like are used to chop through forests. He’s not aiming it at anyone but seems to be doubled over as if he’s in pain or something. The top of the poster features a few pull quotes from early reviews of the movie and the whole things features a slight green tinge that’s in keeping with the title.

A motion poster was released that certainly was creepy. It presents a series of fast-moving images in the background of an image that’s dominated by Stewart’s face and shows the same kind of wall graffiti seen on the other one-sheet to continue that theme. It’s effective setting a tone of dread and presenting Stewart’s character as the main antagonist since we also hear his voice saying “This will all be over soon, gentlemen” along with some screams from other voices. 

The Trailers

The red-band trailer that debuted first starts off with the band being interviewed about how important live music is. When they’re done with a gig they’re told to follow someone from the club but when one member goes into the dressing room to get something he sees a dead body lying there. That leads to the whole band being restrained by a group with mysterious motives, who hold them for a while. We see the members of the band start to fray under the strain of confinement. They make various attempts at escape but nothing seems to get them very far.

It’s a spooky trailer that sells the film not so much as a horror flick but as the kind of physiological terror story that’s much more intriguing to many movie goers. It’s filled with confined spaces, minimal lighting and what looks like a bad-ass performance by Stewart as the head of whatever this group that’s holding the band is.

The green-band trailer that came out later shows the band is having issues getting to their next gig, resorting to siphoning gas out of other people’s cars. We skip the “how” of them becoming prisoners of the weird group that runs the club they wind up at and go straight into them trying to escape from the owner and his group of psychopaths, something that doesn’t go well at all.

It’s a little tighter of a trailer but I do miss the setup. Without it the story makes little sense and really comes off as a bit off-kilter. Still, the horror and tension of the story still come through loud and clear, particularly selling the creepy performance from Stewart.

Just about a week before release a new red-band trailer dropped. It opens with the band prepping for the gig before cutting to them finding a dead body and being detained by the club’s ownership. The rest of the trailer is all about the horrific situations that the band find themselves as they try to escape and the efforts made to stop that escape.

Online and Social

The movie’s official website opens with full-motion video in the background and snippets from early positive reviews in the foreground along with a big “Buy Tickets” button

When you open up the content menu on the left the first section is “About” which has a good Synopsis of the story and the stakes for the band that’s trapped at the club as well as a Cast list and the name of writer/director Jeremy Saulnier. The first two trailers, the red- and green-band versions, are both in the “Videos” section.

In a unique and contextual promotion A24 launched an online radio show at GreenRoom-Radio.com that featured just the kind of music that would be featured in the club in which most of the movie’s action takes place. The programming was curated and hosted by a well-known genre DJ. That’s a fun way to keep things going and make a direct appeal to music fans while acknowledging the world the characters in the movie would likely live in if they were real.

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The Facebook page for the movie has the usual array of trailers, featurettes and promotional graphics. It also links to a number of early reviews for the movie and to quite a few stories on Green Room Radio, the better to solidify the connection between the movie and the actual music scene it’s kind of set in. The Twitter page has a lot of the same material with the addition of a plethora of RTs from fans who are excited for the movie, critics who are extolling its virtues and more. There’s a heavy sense here in making sure that it’s conveyed that yes, there’s a lot of hype for the movie but that it’s justified.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’m aware of here. I can logically guess there was at least some online advertising done on industry and niche horror sites at the very least but I haven’t seen anything directly.

Media and Publicity

Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier talked about the movie and how it’s meant to be him staying true to his indie roots instead of going off to Hollywood blockbusters. He also elaborated on the creation of the story, what kind of music inspired him and how he assembled the eclectic and interesting cast.

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Other than that I couldn’t find a whole lot of press or publicity for the movie…but did it need it? There’s such strong word of mouth among critics and others who were not only fans of Saulnier’s previous work but those who had seen this movie and were praising it to the masses that a press push of some sort likely wouldn’t have moved the needle very much. The success of the movie will depend on how much stock the readership of various news sites put in the opinions of the critics and commentators there, it seems.

Overall

As I said above, the movie’s fate will likely hinge on whether or not an audience believes the strong word of mouth that’s been generated for it. This is a grassroots effort that’s been started by the studio, picked up by fans of the genre who found something inventive and original and then stoked by the studio again, who put pull quotes and other examples of homegrown enthusiasm all over the campaign. The official elements are there to keep the conversation going and give those who already like the movie a new chance to talk about it more than anything else, it seems.

Those official elements – the trailers, posters and more – all work to sell a deeply disturbing movie about the kind of evil that arises from the soul of truly twisted people, not from any demon or outside force. This is about exploring the depths of human depravity. That will appeal to some people and turn off others, but that’s the move that’s on display in this campaign. To that point, I’m kind of surprised there isn’t more of a “We dare you to see it” element to the marketing, though in place of that the studio has chose to present the angle of “the hype is real,” which again shifts the onus to the word of mouth. Not for the faint of heart is my guess.