Key Art, Key Changes: Arrival, Billy Lynn, Edge of Seventeen, Bleed for This

Reaching an audience in the home video market is much different than reaching the theatrical audience. That often means the key art that’s used for home video releases is changed significantly from the one-sheets that were available during the theatrical marketing cycle. What I’m going to try and do is see what those changes are and what they mean for the appeal being made.

Arrival

No big change here, just the same key art that was used theatrically. I always thought that poster, with the big floating heads, looked like a DVD cover anyway so this just makes sense. The only addition is the positive blurb at the bottom of the design.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Actually quite different from the theatrical campaign. Where that focused on the spectacle and the big event Lynn was facing – literally putting us behind him to view the dancers and fireworks from his perspective – this is much more straightforward. The four-stripe design shows Lynn amidst all the fireworks and fanfare at the top and in the midst of battle just below the title. Kristen Stewart, who wasn’t on the first poster at all and barely popped up in the trailer, now gets real estate all to herself.

The Edge of Seventeen

Woody Harrelson’s performance as a put-upon teacher two whom Hailee Steinfeld’s character confides received a good amount of praise when the movie was released. And while he was a big part of the trailers he wasn’t on the poster. That’s corrected here, as the home video release uses an image of the two talking to each other across his desk. It also touts the movie as being “One of the best reviewed comedies of all time,” which is quite the claim.

Bleed For This

It’s not a huge change from the theatrical poster. That same key art showing Teller and his costars walking toward the camera is used at the top of the DVD box while the bottom half is a shot from the conclusion of one of the fights from the movie. That seems to be designed to make sure the audience not only knows that it’s a movie about boxing but also that it has an inspirational and happy ending.

MMM Recap: Week of 11/18 New Releases

Bleed For This

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I wish I just felt a little more life coming from this campaign. It’s so focused on creating and sharing inspirational moments that there doesn’t seem to be anything else going on. There’s surely quite a story to be told here and some of that does come through but the marketing doesn’t go much beyond presenting the characters as archetypal cutouts that could be plugged in anywhere and achieve much the same result, regardless of story.

Edge of Seventeen

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN

The whole campaign is pretty great, presenting a funny and emotional story of being the odd person out in a society that expects smooth edges and perfection. It’s great to see Steinfeld take a starring role like this and she’s front and center in the marketing, owning everyone else in the trailers and standing alone on the one-sheet. The fully-featured website, including a number of mobile elements, rounds out a well put-together campaign that, when combined with the positive word of mouth generated from festival screenings, hopefully adds up to some amount of success.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

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Despite that overt effort being made there is quite a lot to like in the campaign, even if there’s so little focus being put on the story. Instead it’s all about the spectacle and people are being pulled in to see all the magical craziness that’s on display. The story is secondary here to Scamander’s adventures and the cast of creatures that he’s after. On that front it works amazingly well and there seems to be some palpable anticipation for it, which means the campaign has worked.

Manchester By The Sea

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There’s a ton of emotion in this campaign and it’s great to see. As with other movies from Lonergan, the focus is clearly on the relationships that are driving the story here. These are not shallow emotional waters we’re wading into, something that comes through in most every aspect of the marketing. The audience is expected to connect with all the characters, from Lee to Patrick to Randi, throughout the campaign.

Nocturnal Animals

Movie Marketing Madness: Bleed For This

bleed_for_thisThis week’s new release Bleed For This is the second boxing movie based on a true story to come out in the last few months, following the under-performing Hands of Stone, which came out just this past August. This one, though, amps up the drama with its story of a fighter who overcomes the odds in his quest to not only win it all but also just survive and keep himself in the ring.

Miles Teller stars as Vinny Pazienza, a World Champion Boxer who’s at the top of the game. One day he’s involved in a horrific car crash that leaves him gravely injured, with the doctors not sure if he’ll ever walk, much less fight, again. Determined to come back, though, he fights to regain his strength and dexterity, even as the training involved threatens to aggravate the neck and spinal injuries he’s suffered. After a long period of recuperation and conditioning, Vinny is back and fighting for the prize once again.

The Posters

The first and only poster for the movie shows off the movie’s – and the main character’s – swagger and uses that as the primary selling point. So Pazienza is strutting toward the camera with tons of attitude, looking defiantly at whoever he’s going after. He’s flanked by his wife and trainer on either side, giving some hints as to the supporting cast. At the top we’re promised “This is what the greatest comeback in sports history looks like,” which doesn’t exactly roll smoothly off the tongue, but they needed to convey that this is a true story. The “sports” element is covered by the fact that he’s clearly wearing boxing robes, likely on his way to a weigh-in or other moment.

The Trailers

We start off in the only trailer with Vinny trying desperately to get down to weight before the weigh-in for his next big fight, a weigh-in he makes a dramatic entrance to and immediately begins talking smack. He wins the subsequent fight and we see he and his friends and trainers are having great luck all around, right up to the moment he’s involved in a serious car crash. He’s in such critical condition after that he may not walk again and refuses a surgery that would allow him to walk but not fight. After dealing with everyone trying to inspire him he decides, as dangerous as it is, to begin training again to try and heal his body and get back into fighting shape.

It’s very inspirational, showing the traditional arc of such stories, including how no one thinks the hero can bounce back from whatever adversity has been put in his or her way. Teller looks like he’s in full Whiplash mode here, giving a tight, focused performance that is heavy on “I can do this” moments. The supporting cast here is given pretty short shrift as the focus is squarely on Teller from beginning to end.

Online and Social

The movie’s official website opens with a still that’s pulled from the key art but the page then cycles through a few stills as well. There’s a big prompt to “Watch the Trailer” below the title treatment and a couple positive critics quotes to either side. Down in the far left corner there are links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

That leads into the first section of content that’s listed at the top of the page, which is “Reviews.” There you’ll find a handful of similar quotes that actually link to the full reviews so you can read those quotes in context. There’s a Synopsis and information on the Director in the “About” section. That synopsis is better than anything you’ll find elsewhere online, which is rare.

“Cast” has brief writeups about the characters each of the main actors plays along with a still of them from the movie. “Videos” just has the one trailer. There are eight production stills in the “Photos” section and finally the “Partners” section just has one company listed and linked to.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this one condensed Vinny’s story to just under 30 seconds, showing him as a successful fighter before he gets into the car accident and then working to come back from his injury. It’s very much selling the inspirational story angle here.

Online ads, including on social networks, used the trailer or TV-length videos to drive interest and ticket sales. I’m sure there were other online and outdoor ads as well.

Venum, a maker of professional sporting gear like boxing gloves and other material but I couldn’t find anything about the specific promotion they engaged in. There was also some help on the promotional front from UFC, with the movie sponsoring a recent bout in that league.

Media and Publicity

The movie’s premiere at the Telluride Film Festival brought mixed reviews, though most everything praised Teller’s performance as the standout reason to see it.Director Ben Younger spoke extensively here about how the material lured him back to filmmaking after an extended absence that wasn’t totally of his own choosing and how he worked to get the details of the story true to what actually happened. The movie was also among those selected for the Telluride Film Festival.

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Teller and Eckhart both made the rounds of the talk shows, talking about the movie’s story and other topics.

Overall

I wish I just felt a little more life coming from this campaign. It’s so focused on creating and sharing inspirational moments that there doesn’t seem to be anything else going on. There’s surely quite a story to be told here and some of that does come through but the marketing doesn’t go much beyond presenting the characters as archetypal cutouts that could be plugged in anywhere and achieve much the same result, regardless of story.

That’s not to say it’s bad, but it doesn’t resonate in the way it should. The poster is forgettable and the trailer is alright but is such a mashup of scenes and emotions that there’s no real chance for the audience to connect. The website is better than many such efforts but still suffers from the same defect of many biopics, which is that it’s all about the movie without any further information on the real-life subject matter it’s based on. All that adds up to a lackluster campaign that isn’t nearly as inspirational as the story it’s trying to sell.

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