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

arrival_amy_adams_screenshot_h_2016

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

hacksaw ridge pic 1

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

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.

Hidden Figures

hidden-figures-pic

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

la-la-land-hed-2016_0

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

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.

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.

Moonlight

moonlight-movie-trailer-01

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

moonlight-movie-trailer-01

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

deadpool-gallery-05-gallery-image

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

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.

Picking Up the Spare: Moonlight, Bad Moms, Inferno

moonlight-movie-trailer-01

Moonlight

Bad Moms

Inferno

  • Finally saw the response to the Gmail address that was included in the TV spots. Sending a message prompts an OOO response from Langdon, who encourages you to either contact a colleague or visit JourneyThroughHell.com, a site where you can play a game involving Google Maps and the levels of Dante’s “Inferno.” The site is positioned as part of Langdon’s course on Dante, but that’s betrayed by the presence of links to the trailer and the official website (yes, there was one…I’m an idiot) for the movie.
  • Yeah, so there was an official website. But it wasn’t linked from any of the trailers or social profiles and wasn’t findable via search. The site has all the usual sections – Story, Gallery etc – as well as a link to the one promotional partner for the movie, Princess Cruises.

Picking Up the Spare: Equity, Deadpool and More

deadpool-gallery-03

Equity

  • ABC is adapting the movie, committing to a pilot for a series based on the character played by Anna Gunn in the film.

Deadpool

Moonlight

  • Of course as soon as I publish a recap of the marketing saying there’s been no online marketing I begin seeing Facebook ads that, interesting, link to a review of the movie in The New Yorker. I’ve also since encountered a few video ads on YouTube.

Masterminds

MMM Recap: New Releases for 10/21/16

Keeping Up With the Joneses

keeping-up-with-the-joneses-pic-1

I’m not even sure what the campaign is trying to sell. Sure it’s a comedy but it’s not being sold as a particularly funny comedy, which is surprising given the talent involved. At best the movie looks mildly amusing, which isn’t exactly a strong call to action to give the audience. Overall it looks like the kind of thing that would make for a funny “SNL” skit but which might not be sustainable over the length of a feature.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

jack-reacher-2-pic-1

If there’s an issue with the campaign, it’s that it’s largely indistinguishable from the marketing pushes for most of Cruise’s other recent action movies. If it weren’t for the constant stream of other characters shouting “Reacher!” it would be easy to assume this was for an entry in the Mission: Impossible series or something else. Cruise is a good actor – no, he really is – but he doesn’t have the range to make clear differentiations between the similar properties he’s starring in.

Moonlight

moonlight-movie-trailer-01

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.

First Girl I Loved

first-girl-i-loved-pic-1

The campaign itself is good and focuses on the raw emotions that these high school age characters are facing. That’s true to life in any situation, not just sexuality but anything involving identity and the pressures of the world around you. The audience is shown what kind of movie it’s going to be and what the story is, with few punches pulled. It conveys that edgy feeling even as it sells a small, character-centric drama.

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.

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