Key Art, Key Changes: Ben Hur, Bridget Jones’s Baby and More

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.

Ben-Hur

The studio is sticking with what didn’t quite work from the theatrical campaign, using the same image of Ben-Hur in the middle of the chariot race everyone knows from the Charlton Heston version on the box art for the home video release that graced the theatrical one-sheet. The main difference here is in the perspective of the background. On the movie’s poster it was all close-up showing how tight the quarters of the race were. Here, though, the camera shows a whole long arena behind him and his competition, with a bright blue sky at the top. Perhaps someone thought this pop of blue would work better to get people’s attention.

Bridget Jones’s Baby

Similarly, the exact same key art is used here from the theatrical campaign. There’s the slight change with the addition of a critic’s quote but that’s it. Otherwise it’s the same photo of Jones as part of a love triangle, with each of her suitors flanking her. At least it has the excuse of needing to remain thematically consistent with the earlier movies in the franchise.

Equity

Finally, a notable difference. The home video box art retains the overall concept of Gunn and the other three lead actors being arranged on the design but it drops the conceit of trying to overlay their faces on a stock market ticker and replaces it with overlaying images of numbers on the actor’s bodies. I’m not sure that’s a huge improvement and actually makes it a bit more confusing because it makes it seem like the story’s about hacking or something like that. At least the stock ticker was thematically accurate. The design as a whole isn’t that great on the box either, making this seem like the collected season of a show from USA Network.

Florence Foster Jenkins

Another case of the same artwork being used here as was part of the theatrical campaign. Ho hum…

Little Men

And another one. At least in this case, because it’s a smaller independent movie, I wasn’t expecting any great changes.

Golden Globes Best Picture Nominee Marketing Campaigns

The Golden Globe nominees were announced yesterday, bringing with it the predictable annual mix of responses that range from outrage over who was perceived as being snubbed, complaints about those nominated seemingly only because the HFPA wants to party with them and more. Whatever the case, below is a list of the movies nominated for Best Picture to remind you all how they were sold to the audience for their theatrical run. Some of these are more recent than others and it excludes 20th Century Women, which comes out later this month.

Moonlight

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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.

Hacksaw Ridge

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It’s hard to get a sense of the scale of the actual movie from the campaign. This seems like a big release and an important movie. But there’s only one trailer, a mismatched TV campaign and a press push that was kind of light for what seems like it should be an awards contender. It just seems like there should have been more. And there certainly should have been something on the official site that offered a bit more background on Doss, considering his story is so important.

Deadpool

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And the campaign conveys all that. It relies heavily on Reynolds’ inherent charm to sell a character a very small percentage of the audience is likely familiar without outside his one premious ill-fated cinematic outing. The sense of humor of the movie comes through in all elements of the movie to sell something that may not be a laugh-a-minute time at the movies but which certainly looks like it’s going to work hard to entertain. The focus on gags over story in the campaign has me *slightly* worried there’s little of the latter to be found, but we’ll see.

La La Land

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The entire campaign is meant to evoke a timeless nature. The throwback images that were used in early posters and the way the trailers make you think the movie could take place this year or in 1961 all creates a sense that the story exists out of time to some extent, reinforcing the slight nostalgia-esque approach to the marketing. Add to all that the almost universally positive word of mouth that’s resulted from festival screenings and the love the soundtrack has received and you have a campaign that’s…yeah, it’s ridiculously charming

Florence Foster Jenkins

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All that aside, it’s a solid, consistent campaign for a movie that instantly shot to the top of your parent’s To See Soon List. It’s hard to see this generating much interest in the under-45 age group outside of a few individuals who are big Streep fans. My guess, though, is that’s fine and the older crowd of white people might be enough to turn it into a modest hit. The marketing promises the audience won’t be challenged at all but instead be taken for a moderately enjoyable ride on a story that is charming and slight. You know, like a super hero movie but with some Oscar aspirations.

Lion

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In terms of the marketing itself, it’s more or less consistent across the elements as to what it’s selling, which is Saroo’s search to uncover his true identity and find his family. That comes through just about everywhere. The website is lightest on this angle, but considering it sacrifices story for a charitable appeal, it’s hard to fault it on that front. The repeated use of the search box in the graphical elements works pretty well once you figure out what’s going on and helps to setup the story. All in all this is a decent campaign for a movie that counts on emotions more than other traditional commercial appeals to turn out the audience.

Hell or High Water

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Somewhere around the second trailer, though, that started to turn and it became more and more interesting as the story came more into focus. Foster’s performance came more to the forefront and the dynamic between him and Pine was more clear and the campaign started to show audiences what the movie was trying to say, what it’s message was. If the audience caught that message it could be enough to turn out some specialty box office success.

Sing Street

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But what is here is good. The campaign certainly conveys the same attitude as Once, even if the details are different. It’s a coming of age story, something that always plays well with certain audiences, and so the marketing should resonate with them. It’s selling a movie that, like its main character, loves music and what it can do, particularly how it can affect the relationships around us. It’s sweet, it’s personal and it’s got a soundtrack that those of us of a certain age will relate to at the very least.

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.

MMM Recap: 8/12/16 New Releases

Florence Foster Jenkins

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…it’s a solid, consistent campaign for a movie that instantly shot to the top of your parent’s To See Soon List. It’s hard to see this generating much interest in the under-45 age group outside of a few individuals who are big Streep fans. My guess, though, is that’s fine and the older crowd of white people might be enough to turn it into a modest hit. The marketing promises the audience won’t be challenged at all but instead be taken for a moderately enjoyable ride on a story that is charming and slight. You know, like a super hero movie but with some Oscar aspirations.

Hell or High Water

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Somewhere around the second trailer, though, that started to turn and it became more and more interesting as the story came more into focus. Foster’s performance came more to the forefront and the dynamic between him and Pine was more clear and the campaign started to show audiences what the movie was trying to say, what it’s message was. If the audience caught that message it could be enough to turn out some specialty box office success.

Pete’s Dragon

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What’s interesting to me is that there’s not much of an appeal to nostalgia going on here. This movie’s story seems to differ pretty significantly from that of the original and so I don’t think the studio is really playing up the ties between the two. Maybe the original isn’t as well known as some of other properties (which begs the question why make this a remake and not just an original story…oh right, because you can’t sell anything with an unknown title). Whatever the reason, this is being sold as more or less an original movie, not one that requires existing knowledge of what’s come before.

Sausage Party

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But this is the Rogen brand. While many find his constant embrace of stoner humor the sign of a lazy mind, this is what he does. It’s his niche, the creative corner of the world he’s carved out for himself and dammit, he’s going to own it. Yeah, in 10 years or so he might decide the well has run dry and he needs to do an indie drama to jumpstart the next phase of his career, but for now he’s very much killing it by making movies with his friends that are filled with sex and drug humor, so if that’s not what you’re expecting from Sausage Party, I’m not sure what to tell you.

Movie Marketing Madness: Florence Foster Jenkins

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It’s natural to have dreams, to have something we’re aspiring to. We want to write a novel, we want to do something extraordinary or special. What makes the difference is the means to actually work toward, much less achieve, those goals. If you’re working three jobs to make ends meet and send your kids to college you likely don’t have time to write the novel you’ve been noodling with for the last five years. But if you’re lucky enough to have the means to pursue an idea that you feel will define you and change your circumstances, you’re truly blessed since achieving those dreams becomes that much easier.

Florence Foster Jenkins is very much about the latter. Based on a true story, Meryll Streep plays the title character, a wealthy New York woman who has long dreamt of being a famous musician and singer. The only problem is she has a terrible singing voice. That doesn’t deter her and isn’t a problem for her husband (Hugh Grant), who encourages her at every turn and does whatever he can to further her ambition. After a series of circumstances and events it’s arranged for Jenkins to perform at Carnegie Hall, which may either be her crowning achievement or a disaster that crushes her and those around her.

The Posters

The poster sells the stars and little else. Streep and Grant are both named at the top and featured there in the middle of the one-sheet, with Helberg on the other side partially obscured by a bouquet of flowers. Copy at the bottom tells the audience this is “The inspiring true story of the world’s worst singer.” So it’s clear this is being sold for the laughs and not because of some deep-seeded emotional drama, though there are elements of that in the trailer.

The Trailers

There had been some UK-centric trailers before this one, but the first U.S. trailer starts out by introducing us to Madam Florence, who has more enthusiasm for singing than she may have talent. Her husband, though, is supportive then entire way. We get some exposition that she’s a lifelong music lover with frustrated ambitions of her own. A pianist and vocal coach who are brought in try to help her improve in time for a performance that’s been arranged at Carnegie Hall. We see her team works to keep bad reviews out of her awareness but still have trepidations about enabling her, though ultimately the show goes on as planned.

It’s not bad. It doesn’t exactly look like Oscar bait but Streep and Grant – and Helberg – appear to give decent performances in a story that’s more about the comedy than anything else. At least that’s the impression I get from the trailer. It’s hard to view this as a hard-hitting story of someone defying the odds since it’s actually “rich white woman gets her way because her husband buys her a chance to fulfill a ludicrous dream.”

Online and Social

The official website follows the unfortunate trend of being almost completely devoid of content and information. There’s a big version of the key art that’s used as the background on the site, but the only material that’s there is a prompt to watch the trailer or to enter a contest, the prize being a chance to sing at Carnegie Hall.

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So with nothing on the main site it’s off to social networks. On Facebook the studio has been sharing lots of bright and colorful promotional images celebrating both the actors and the people they’re playing along with news stories about the movie. The same kind of content can be found on Twitter and Instagram, with the last one just not featuring the links elsewhere.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this one ran that played up the whimsical, fun aspects of the story, showing Jenkins as someone who’s a bit delusional about her talent, sure, but the enjoyment is supposed to be in the journey of her and those around her. It’s all played very light and breezy, not serious at all, which may be because audiences usually expect more more dramatic fare from Streep.

Not aware of any online advertising at this time but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out key art and some of the video assets have been used for this purpose. Nor would I be shocked to see outdoor ads that show off Streep, Grant and Helberg.

Media and Publicity

Streep and Frears talked here about the movie and why they wanted to tell this story, which also featured others who knew the real story and shared Jenkins’ real struggle and efforts. She talked elsewhere as well and Grant also made the press rounds to talk about his character and the story as a whole.

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Helberg even got his own feature story where he talked about fame and what it’s like being in a profession that’s constantly being critiqued and judged along with others who are part of the system.

Overall

Unsurprisingly, this is being sold as the Meryl Streep show. This is a story most everyone, I’m guessing, doesn’t know about. That coupled with the fact that it’s not exactly a rags-to-riches story or one about a disadvantaged underdog bucking the system to achieve glory and the main hook you’re left with is one focused on the biggest, most bankable star in the movie. That’s Streep. That’s not to say others, Grant in particular, aren’t part of the campaign but their roles are obviously of the supporting variety.

All that aside, it’s a solid, consistent campaign for a movie that instantly shot to the top of your parent’s To See Soon List. It’s hard to see this generating much interest in the under-45 age group outside of a few individuals who are big Streep fans. My guess, though, is that’s fine and the older crowd of white people might be enough to turn it into a modest hit. The marketing promises the audience won’t be challenged at all but instead be taken for a moderately enjoyable ride on a story that is charming and slight. You know, like a super hero movie but with some Oscar aspirations.