After the Campaign: Blue Jay

My main conclusion in my review of the campaign for Blue Jay was that it was worth watching if, for no other reason, the performances from Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson. That was spot-on.


Duplass stars as Jim, a middle-aged guy who in the wake of his mother’s death is working on cleaning up and renovating the house he grew up in. One day he runs into Amanda (Paulson), who’s in town to be with her sister, who’s about to give birth. The two were high school sweethearts until something – an event that’s not revealed or even touched on until the very end – tore them apart. She’s now married while he’s not but the two wind up spending the rest of the day and night together, reliving old memories and reviving the chemistry that made them such a natural pair back in the day. As I said, it’s only at the very end that the tragedy that lead to the couple’s romantic demise is brought to the forefront and addressed, with each one needing to deal with it in their own way and in some respects for the first time.

The marketing sold the movie as a showcase for the two leads, telling the audience that the main value proposition was 90-odd minutes of the two walking and talking and reconnecting after a period of estrangement. And that’s exactly what was delivered, so well done by whomever cut the trailer. Is it a romantic movie? Yes, of a sort. Mostly it’s a cautionary tale about the downside of holding emotions and thoughts to yourself for 20 years. It wasn’t a huge campaign so there isn’t a lot to compare the finished product against, but if you’d like to make your own judgement on the marketing’s accuracy you can – and should – watch the movie on Netflix now.

Picking Up the Spare: Birth of the Nation, Suicide Squad, Ghostbusters


The Birth of the Nation

  • My friend Scott Smith sent me the picture above of the “Nat Turner Lives” outdoor billboard on the south side of Chicago.
  • The movie didn’t fare well at the box-office, and “Why?” has spurred a thousand hot takes about it movie from the standing ovation it received at Sundance earlier this year to a less-than stellar reception and the causes behind it, including the rape allegations against Nate Parker that dominated the news cycles in the months leading up to release.

Suicide Squad

  • Warner Bros. has launched a new site meant to look like an ARGUS database that promises more information about the characters from the movie as we get closer to its home video release.


  • Sony is launching a VR mobile game as part of the promotions for the movie’s home video release.
  • Director Paul Feig talked recently about the environment, both social and political, the movie was released in, the reaction to the film and more.


  • I was wrong, Netflix did create at least a twitter account for the movie. 

Blue Jay

  • Mark Duplass talked about his career as a whole and the role Blue Jay plays in it here, hitting topics like his love of making small movies with untested directors, working outside the studio system and more. Both he and Paulson were interviewed here about the genesis of the movie, the way they collaborated on the story and more.

Certain Women

The Accountant

  • DC Comics created a motion comic that tells some of the backstory of Ben Affleck’s character Christian Wolff.
  • How Kendrick got involved in the movie and how she worked with Afflect was part of an interview with her touching on all the projects she has coming out.

MMM Recap: 10/14/16 New Releases

Certain Women


That’s not to say the rest of the marketing hasn’t been good – it has. But while the trailer and poster are both outstanding the site lacks quite a bit and there’s no advertising or anything, meaning it’s not a hugely well-rounded push. There’s going to be a portion of the audience that sees the trailer in some context and decides to check it out but for the most part awareness and interest are, I’m guessing, going to be largely dependent on the word of mouth from early screenings and appreciation of the talent involved.

Blue Jay


The campaign seems to admit that there’s going to be limited appeal for the movie. No big press push, no advertising and no web presence all speak to the fact that this is seen (rightly) as a small movie that’s going to be attractive to a small audience. Again, the small scale isn’t unusual for releases from either The Orchard or Netflix and when you add in that it’s a black and white movie with very little plot, no action and a couple of good actors who aren’t box-office draws, it’s all understandable.

The Accountant


Like the main character, it’s hard to connect with this campaign. It’s all done in shades of grey and blue and cold feeling. That’s what the studio is going for, sure, but it makes it kind of hard to feel any sort of emotion or strong call to action around the movie. The story that’s on display seems interesting and a nice twist on some general action drama elements but overall it creates something that seems kind of…generic isn’t quite the right word but certainly something that doesn’t make a lasting impression as being wholly unique.



The movie being sold looks very much in line with Guest’s previous movies. The tone and feel on display in the campaign here will be instantly familiar to fans of Best In Show, Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind. So the objective here is apparently to turn out the legion of fans Guest has accumulated over the years. How much this will resonate with those outside that group remains to be seen.


Production still from set of CHRISTINE, 2015
Production still from set of CHRISTINE, 2015

There’s a lot to like about the campaign, even if it’s not a huge marketing push. While many of the elements are stylistically interesting, though, it’s not an easy movie that’s being sold here. The campaign promises a dark and unpleasant time at the theater, which isn’t an easy message to sell the audience. But as much of the press pointed out, stories of troubled males have been a staple of cinema for as long as there have been movies, so it’s about time more female stories made their way to the screen.

Movie Marketing Madness: Blue Jay

bluejay-posterJim (Mark Duplass) and Amanda (Sarah Paulson) were childhood sweethearts who drifted apart over the years in Blue Jay, directed by Alex Lehmann and written by Duplass. The two run into each other one day, now adults, as she’s returning to the small California town where he too is back for his own reasons.

The two start hanging out and spending the day together. Amanda wants to go back to Jim’s family’s house so they go and wind up sifting through the memories that have long been buried or forgotten. That makes them both laugh and cry and deal with emotions that have either faded or become more acute with the passage of time. Amanda is married but Jim is not, adding another odd dimension to their relationship. But it’s clear the two still have a unique chemistry, even after all this time.

The Posters

The first poster sells the movie as a love story, pure and simple. Paulson and Duplass are shown cozying up to each other, their faces close together as if they’re coming in for a kiss, the image tinted a slight shade of blue to go with the title branding. What’s interesting here is that Paulson’s face is much more noticeable than Duplass’s, likely because of her increased profile in the wake of not just “American Horror Story” but especially a renowned turn in the O.J. Simpson TV miniseries where she played prosecutor Marcia Clark.

The Trailers

When the first trailer starts we see Jim and Amanda meeting in a grocery store. Through their interactions with others we quickly see there’s history there, with a store clerk referring to them as the “famous lovebirds.” After their initial meeting they start just walking around hanging out, going out for coffee and drinking beer back at his house. They start off along the lake but once they wind up back at his place they start going deep into nostalgia, playing old tapes of themselves they used to make, dancing to old-school hip-hop and more. It’s all tinged by the fact that she’s married while he is not, so this memory-driven flirtation may end up being painful for one or both of them.

It likely goes without saying, but both Duplass and Paulson look great here. They both look like they put in emotional performances that go into some deep territory. There’s great chemistry between the two and, unsurprisingly, the dialogue rings honest and true.

Online and Social

This is coming from both The Orchard and Netflix, two companies not known for their website building. So there doesn’t appear to be any site for the movie, nor are there any social networks dedicated to it. There doesn’t even appear to have been much support on either company’s social channels, with The Orchard focused on their music clients and Netflix busy talking about “Gilmore Girls.”

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nope, nothing.

Media and Publicity

The movie had its official debut at the Toronto International Film Festival where it got decent reviews and where Duplass and Paulson talked about the characters, the process of making it and more.


Director Lehmann talked here about making the movie, including the choice to shoot in black-and-white, working with Duplass on multiple levels and more. And Duplass later admitted that there were a lot of potential potholes in the situation but that it all came down to his chemistry with Paulson to make it work.


The campaign seems to admit that there’s going to be limited appeal for the movie. No big press push, no advertising and no web presence all speak to the fact that this is seen (rightly) as a small movie that’s going to be attractive to a small audience. Again, the small scale isn’t unusual for releases from either The Orchard or Netflix and when you add in that it’s a black and white movie with very little plot, no action and a couple of good actors who aren’t box-office draws, it’s all understandable.

But while it’s a small campaign it presents a solid viewing choice for the small audience that might come across it. As has become perfectly clear, both Duplass and Paulson have great reputations among those who have discovered their work and the campaign puts them both front and center. It’s all about selling an unusual, unique movie for those looking for either the big, effects-laden blockbusters or this season’s “important” movies hitting theaters during awards season. If you’re a fan of Duplass and/or Paulson, this will be right up your alley.
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