Picking Up The Spare: Guardians of the Galaxy, Amazon By The Sea, Logan

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

  • Not sure what the strategic marketing goal of this was, but Fandango created an 80s-style trailer that featured a laugh-track, badly color-timed photography and wild graphics to make it look like the kind of promo you might see on a VHS tape you rented from the vending machine in the grocery store entryway.
  • Director James Gunn released a series, rounded up by The Playlist, of posters that play on the design of classic movies like Goonies, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Dorito’s took their soundtrack-based promotion into the real world with pop-up locations in a couple cities where people could come and sing a song from the album for a chance to win some swag. That contest was available online as well.

Logan

  • The movie’s black-and-white cut is getting a limited theatrical release that’s essentially a glorified promotion for the home video, specifically the edition that will be available at Walmart and which will include that monochromatic version as part of the package.

Manchester By The Sea

  • To mark the movie becoming available on streaming, Amazon is giving every resident of the city that lent its name to the movie a free year of Amazon Prime. That’s a neat promotion in and of itself, but the real motivation behind that stunt is to generate countless headlines about it, which it did. That helped raise awareness that the movie was coming to Prime and hopefully encourage more people to sign-up for the service if they were on the fence.

The Marketing Campaigns for 2017’s Academy Awards Best Picture Nominees

The nominees for this year’s Academy Awards were announced yesterday. While Deadpool didn’t get the nomination the filmmakers and many in the press had been hoping it would there were still a few surprises, including that the acting categories actually featured people of color after years of #OscarsSoWhite being the dominant theme of the reactionary commentary. To mark the occassion, let’s look back at the marketing campaigns for this year’s nine Best Picture nominees

Arrival

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As for the marketing itself, it all seems to be working together to create a slick, stylish brand identity for the movie. Everything here is crisp and clean, presenting an adult thriller that’s geared for the adult and discerning audience. There’s little pandering here to the unwashed masses. Many have drawn the connection between this and previous movies like Interstellar and Gravity and it’s very much in that vein, an art film for grownups that’s dressed up like a big-budget alien movie. It’s more about the themes of the story, though, a message that comes through clearly in the campaign.

Fences

Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson.

The movie that’s being sold looks incredibly powerful. It’s a story about long-delayed dreams, unfulfilled potential, what you owe the generation after yours and how all that relates to race told by some of the best of today’s working actors. It’s a vital story in this time in history and it’s one that will hopefully continue to garner not more awards consideration but also an audience to see that story told.

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.

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.

Hidden Figures

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I honestly feel like this movie couldn’t be more 2016 if it tried. At least the marketing campaign couldn’t. It’s all about how women of color have been removed from the narrative of one of the country’s – hell, mankind’s – greatest achievements. If “men get all the credit for something women were an integral part of” doesn’t sum up this past year I’m not sure what does. So the campaign has worked not only to tell people there’s an important story here, but it’s one that’s likely repeated daily as men talk over their female colleagues and mansplain what’s it’s “actually” about. For that reason, the movie is likely to become a lightning rod as one group claims the story as their own and the other complains how it downplays the contributions of white men. I’m guessing the phrase “white genocide” may even come up in one or two Facebook comments.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

hacksaw ridge pic 2

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

la-la-land-hed-2016

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

florence foster jenkins pic 2

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

lion-pic

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

hell-or-high-water pic 1

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

sing street pic 1

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: 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

manchester-by-the-sea-pic

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: Manchester By the Sea

manchester_by_the_seaLee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is more or less settled in his life as a janitor in Boston, far away from the family home in Manchester-by-the-Sea where they’ve lived for generations. That life is upended, though, when his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) is killed. That’s bad enough, but the divorced, childless Lee is shocked to find out Joe named him sole guardian of his teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges).

That leaves Lee needing to find a whole new dynamic with Lee and a whole new pattern for his own life. He needs to move back to his home town in order to not completely uproot Patrick and find a way to be responsible for another human being, something he’s never been particularly good at. It also brings him back into contact with his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and forces Lee to confront what caused them to split up. In other words it’s about the pain of not just death but of also finding new ways to relate to each other and the world around us. The movie comes from writer/director Kenneth Lonergan.

The Posters

Just one poster for the movie, showing Lee and Randi talking along the shore of a river or inlet, the former looking down like he’s struggling with his emotions in the conversation as seagulls fly around them. The cast list is at the top, followed by a series of quotes from early reviews. Around the title treatment are just some of the movie’s festival credentials.

It’s a sparse poster, in line with the subject matter. What’s slightly surprising is that it focuses on the dynamic between the divorced couple and not between Lee and his nephew, which is the emphasis everywhere else in the campaign.

The Trailers

The first trailer packs quite an emotional wallop. It starts off with Lee bonding with his young nephew on a fishing trip. Fast forward several years and the kid is now a teenager when his parents are killed, leaving Lee as Patrick’s guardian. That’s not a role he fits into easily, though, and the rest of the trailer is about Lee at first trying to get out of the responsibilities he now finds himself saddled with. Eventually, though, the two of them start to figure each other out and begin to bond and open up.

That relatively simple description doesn’t do justice to the emotions in the trailer, which are significant. Lee is struggling with being someone he doesn’t feel he can be or needs to be. Patrick is hurting, of course, and even more offended when he feels like Lee is rejecting him. So the trailer is selling an emotional gut-punch, something that’s not going to let up on the heartstrings for more than a minute. The focus here is on the performance of Affleck, Williams and Hedges, with quotes from critics’ festival reviews being plastered all over to make it clear to the audience that this is an already-acclaimed movie that they can’t miss because there is plenty to talk about.

Online and Social

The official website loads with a front page showing the key art and much of the rest of the elements from the poster. In the upper left corner there are links to the movie’s Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Scroll down the site and the first section is the “Trailer,” which you should definitely watch again. Keep going and you can read the excellent “Synopsis” that sets up most of what you likely need to know before seeing the movie.

“Cast & Crew” actually has more information on the major players in front of and behind the camera, allowing you to read filmographies and career histories. Then there are five stills in the “Gallery.”

There’s even more information about the movie in the next few sections, starting with “About the Production.” That takes you into a history of getting the movie made, working with Lonergan and more. “Real New England” provides some insights into how the production found locations and captured the feel of the area. Finally “The Chandlers of Manchester By The Sea” has more from the cast and crew about the story and other aspects of the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Doesn’t seem to have been any TV advertising done but there was plenty of online advertising placed that drove traffic buy tickets.

Media and Publicity

The film had its public debut at Sundance 2016, where it generated positive buzz for the emotional performances and was quickly bought by Amazon for distribution. While there the cast and crew talked about the story and what it was all about. Eventually Amazon announced it had partnered with Roadside Attractions on a theatrical release.

The movie was among those which debuted or otherwise screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.  It was also pegged for the New York Film Festival. The movie was also among those selected for the Telluride Film Festival. That appearance included a career tribute for Affleck and gave him an opportunity to talk about working with Lonergan, something he’s done a few times now, getting into the headspace of his character and more.

The movie was also among those selected for the Telluride Film Festival. That appearance included a career tribute for Affleck and gave him an opportunity to talk about working with Lonergan, something he’s done a few times now, getting into the headspace of his character and more.

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Lonergan was the focus of a substantial profile in The New York Times that covered the troubles he’s had as a filmmaker, the impetus behind making this movie, working with Affleck and lots more. The director later penned an appreciation for Williams’ performance, citing the unexpected depths she went to and the range she showed off.

A feature interview with Affleck came later that touched on how he got involved, the actor’s awards potential and his position in the industry as well as Amazon’s big dollar bet on the movie being a success. The idea that Affleck was uncomfortable with fame and was only stepping into the spotlight reluctantly continued to be the focus of the press with stories like this that talked about his career to date and the movie specifically.

Overall

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.

Each individual element works really well and provides a more or less consistent brand identity, one that’s rooted in the intensely personal story being told. There are some issues – the poster is more focused on the Lee/Randi dynamic where the trailer is all about the Lee/Patrick relationship – but it’s the story that comes through loud and clear throughout the entire thing.

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