Flashback MMM: Casino

“…just like De Niro in Casino.” we hear Will Ferrell’s Scott Johansen say in the trailer for The House as he considers sending a very painful message to a gambler who’s been cheating. That callback to the Martin Scorsese-directed crime drama is all the excuse I need to use it as the basis for this week’s Flashback movie marketing review.

Casino, released in 1995, was very much seen as a follow-up of sorts to 1990’s Goodfellas, with both movies not only directed by Scorsese but featuring both Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. De Niro plays Sam Rothstein, an underworld-connected entrepreneur who, with his partner Nicky (Pesci) move to Las Vegas to make their millions on the gambling scene of the mid-1970s. The two work alright together but eventually come into conflict not just over the direction of the business but over the affections of Ginger (Sharon Stone), who Sam has married but who Nicky lusts after. As should be expected, things get violent and filled with vengeance.

The movie has never been my favorite Scorsese picture, mostly because it felt like a glitzier take on Goodfellas, a lesser-than follow-up as the talent tried to capture lightning in a bottle twice. But it’s maintained a good reputation, mostly because of its epic scale and amazing visuals, for which Scorsese truly deserves credit.

The poster is designed to trade almost solely on the star power involved and evoke the previous movie from this team. The floating heads of De Niro, Pesci and Stone are all arranged against a black sky that lingers above what’s clearly the Las Vegas Strip, brightly lit at the bottom of the image. It’s simple, slick and uses the actors as the primary selling point. The slight orange glow everyone has is in keeping with the visual aesthetic of the movie itself, which is drenched in that coloring to symbolize the mix of desert sun and harsh neon Vegas is filled with and known for.

The trailer starts off with Sam talking about how good he is and how big his casino is. Standard shots of money being loaded and unloaded follow. Sam is offered his own casino operation as a reward for his loyalty and success. Nicky comes out but it’s clear his tough guy style is going to cause friction in the more refined waters of Vegas. Sam begins courting Ginger, a waitress, and marries her. Then things start to go south, particularly because of Nicky’s reckless and violent behavior. Ginger starts threatening to talk to the Feds, Nicky gets more and more unpredictable and all the time Sam wants to keep things together, asking for total trust and that people just listen to him because he knows what’s best.

Like the poster, it knows exactly what it wants the audience to take away, which is that this is a reteaming of the core players from Goodfellas but this time with the action taking place in 1970s Las Vegas. It’s filled with violence and hints at betrayal among the various thieves and mobsters, all while maintaining a flashy veneer that covers the ugly motivations and actions of the characters, much like Vegas itself.

Both of these elements work very well together, giving off the same brand look and feel and making the same basic appeal to audiences, which is that this is a high-quality movie from people you enjoy working together once more. It never explicitly name-drops Goodfellas, but it doesn’t need to, the implication is there, though the campaign still stands just fine on its own. And special shoutout to the music used in the trailer, though while the Rolling Stones song is great the fact that “Layla” isn’t heard here means a major moment in the story isn’t even mildly spoiled.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Comedian

comedianRobert De Niro stars as Jackie Burke in this week’s new (limited for now) release The Comedian. Burke is an aging comic, well-known for an old TV show and now on the standup circuit. He’s deeply unhappy about his position, though, and that comes out one night in a mean-spirited set that culminates with him punching a member of the audience.

Burke is sentenced to community service, which is where he crosses paths with Harmony (Leslie Mann). The two form a friendship that includes Burke taking her to the wedding of his niece and her introducing him to her father, a shady Florida real estate character. That friendship deepens as the two of them find someone else who can help them get over their own issues.

The Posters

The singular one sheet for the movie is just weird. “Nobody’s a bargain” is displayed at the top and below that is an image where the top half of De Niro dissolves into a tangle of wires that’s attached to a microphone. We’re meant to connect that picture to the title treatment and say “Oh, I get it a microphone because he’s a comedian” but the whole thing just comes off as kind of a mess that doesn’t sell anything cohesive or coherent to an audience that might not have the whole background of the story.

The Trailers

We meet Jackie as the first trailer opens with a scene that shows how self-centered and clueless he is before he takes a job he doesn’t want and sabotages his own career. While doing his mandated community service he meets Harmony and the two become friends. Through a series of events he gets back into the comedy groove of things and more opportunities present themselves. Jackie and Harmony spend more and more time together, which her father isn’t thrilled with. But it’s more about his journey than anything else.

It’s not bad. The fact that De Niro and Mann are love interests is creepy and all but that aside the movie looks relatively funny. Sure, the cameos by Keitel and Crystal seem forced in a bit to help us recall previous movies, but that’s part of the marketing game, I suppose.

Online and Social

When you load the movie’s official website the trailer opens up on a pop-up, though one that’s not YouTube and is very choppy in terms of playback. Close that and you get the key art along with the photos of the main cast. At the top there are prompts to watch the trailer again, buy tickets and visit the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

The first section of content is the “Synopsis,” which gives you the same kind of overview of the story you can get from watching the trailer. After that are “Cast” and “Filmmaker” sections that actually have a good amount of information, with filmographies and other information on the major players.

There are almost two dozen images in the “Gallery,” mostly production stills but also with a couple behind the scenes shots of director Taylor Hackford. “Links” will send you to the IMDb pages for the primary cast and finally “Reviews” has a few positive pull quotes from early reviews of the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’m aware of on the paid front. There may have been a few online ads run or there might be as the movie (potentially) expands to more theaters, but there’s been nothing on TV that I’ve been able to find.

Media and Publicity

A first look at the movie along with comments from De Niro and others popped up around the time it was announced there would be a debut screening of the film at AFI Fest before a limited, awards-qualifying release.

Well before release – back in November – De Niro made a few appearances on the late night talk shows to talk about taking on the role and otherwise promote the movie before it went into limited release.

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A nice feature interview with Mann covered why she took on the role, how she reacted to working with De Niro and her other costars and her approach to her career in general. De Niro also talked about taking on the role of a stand-up comic in this feature that covered how much hard work the cast and crew put into getting the voice and tone of that world right, including details of abandoned drafts, working with the crowd and more. Mann and De Niro also made some late night appearances to talk about the movie.

Overall

It’s…OK. There are some aspects of the campaign that make this seem really attractive – specifically the interplay between De Niro, Danny Devito and Patti LuPone – and some that are very much the opposite, mostly the fact that De Niro and Mann are positioned as romantic interests. That just seems off and it detracts from the overall idea of an old cranky comedian coming to terms with his place in the world because that kind of relationship is usually about being in denial as to where you actually are in life. And I’m surprised that’s the emphasis of the campaign, with Burke’s actual character arc given short shrift.

The marketing wants to have it both ways, selling this as both a comedy and a drama. There are funny moments that show what Burke’s relationships are like and there are serious moments along those same lines. But it never really comes together into something that looks generally attractive. It’s an interesting point in De Niro’s filmography but that’s about it.

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Flashback MMM: Taxi Driver

taxi-driver-40thMartin Scorsese’s gritty, groundbreaking movie Taxi Driver is returning to theaters this weekend, with special Fathom Events-hosted screenings marking the 40th anniversary since its release, joining a new Blu-ray restoration being released in a few weeks. So it’s a good time, I think, to take a look at the movie’s campaign. But this time instead of going back to look at the 1976 campaign that originally sold it to audience I thought I’d look at the new assets created for the new release of the movie.

In case you need a refresher on the movie’s story, let’s catch up. Robert DeNiro plays Travis Bickel, a New York City taxi driver who suffers from paranoid delusions that are being made worse by his insomnia. Increasingly detached from reality he becomes more and more dangerous, convinced only he can save the city, which was falling apart due to poverty and crime at the time. Becoming involved with a campaign worker played by Cybill Shepherd, he flirts with planning to kill the president until he decides his mission is to save a young prostitute played by Jodie Foster. The movie is a snapshot of New York in the 70s, which was dirty and grimy and crime-ridden and a veritable powder-keg of tension.

The poster to mark this weekend’s re-release is more artfully designed than that of many new releases and captures much of the essence of the movie in a fairly simple image. What we see is the rear-view mirror of a car – presumably a taxi – with DeNiro’s eyes visible in the mirror. Slightly below the mirror, blurry in the unfocused distance are the city lights, including an “XXX” sign that shows the state of the city at the time and what Bickel is lashing out against. The brown and yellows of the poster are all faded and muted, giving a sense of the gritty look and feel of the movie.

The re-release trailer is focused on Bickel’s decent into madness. Dialogue from him talks about how eventually the filth and animals of the city will be washed away by a “real rain.” We see him getting more and more unhinged, briefly interacting with Shepherd and Foster and others. Generally he’s going through the city, becoming more and more disillusioned with what he sees around him, from the porn theaters to the prostitution to the violence. He obviously doesn’t play well with others. Much of the last half of the trailer intercuts between the famous “You talkin’ to me?” scene and other shots to show just how dangerous he’s becoming.

It’s a solid trailer that is meant to reenforce what audiences already love about the movie, from that iconic scene that everyone can quote (often incorrectly) to the shots of DeNiro and a young Foster to images of DeNiro becoming more and more unhinged. It’s not all that innovative but should get the job done when it comes to reinforcing the movie’s status as a classic.

There was also a shorter Fathom-specific version that condensed the best parts into 30 seconds.

So the campaign as a whole, while not huge, did what it needed to do to take what people love about the movie and reminding them that many haven’t had the chance to see it on the big screen in years, if ever. Earlier in the year the cast and Scorsese did some press to mark the anniversary, making for a nice sustained effort for the re-release, even if that press push wasn’t necessarily tied to this weekend’s events.

Movie Marketing Madness: Hands of Stone

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The fascinating story of boxer Roberto Duran is about to hit movie screens in Hands of Stone. In the movie Edgar Ramírez plays Duran, the boxer who came out of relative obscurity to challenge – and ultimately beat – Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980 to take the WBC welterweight title from Leonard. When the two engaged in a rematch later that year, Duran was out of shape and famously retreated to his corner, unable to get the advantage on his opponent, and uttered the famous “no mas” that has taken on iconic status since then, though Duran reportedly refutes that’s what he said.

Duran was picked from his Panamanian homeland and trained for years by Ray Arcel, played here by Robert DeNiro. The movie covers Duran’s life from his first fight in 1968 through the heights of his fame, all the while focusing on Duran’s drive to be the best and to rise above the poverty that’s pervasive in his homeland. At the same time it’s about his relationship with Arcel, who as a boxer in his own right for much of the early 20th Century before retiring and becoming a trainer.

The Posters

Just one poster for the movie. Set against a bright red background we see a black boxing glove as if it’s being raised defiantly in the air. That matches the tone set by the copy point, which reads “No mas. No surrender.” which, of course, echoes not just Duran’s famous (if disputed) phrase but also his overall attitude toward boxing and life. Below the glove, more or less forming the arm that it’s attached to, are the names of the major stars and the title treatment.

The Trailers

The first teaser trailer starts off with Ray Arcel talking about how he’s trained more champs than anyone else. But then the focus shifts to Duran and we see his journey from the slums of Panama to the world stage, with shots of both mixed in with each other. We see Sugar Ray talking on the phone and approaching the ring for their fight and that’s about it.

For a story that’s about Duran’s journey the trailer focuses a lot on DeNiro’s trainer character. That’s not surprising as he’s the big star, but it makes me wonder how the movie will actually be structured, if we’ll be watching the whole thing from Arcel’s perspective.

The second trailer is a lot more cohesive, with a better flow overall and more of the story laid out. We start out as Arcel is explaining how he “discovered” Duran and how he ultimately came to train the fighter. The two have a bit of a clash of styles, but what comes through mostly is that the Duran is passionate about fighting, seeing it as the way to continue distancing himself from the under-privileged, ghetto upbringing he had. We see him take on Sugar Ray Leonard, suffer an unexpected defeat and then have to pick himself up from disappointment and get back on the horse.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W1L0WnVnjY

This really does lay out the entire narrative arc of the movie. We see Duran as he travels from the slums to the height of boxing fame, be beat by Leonard and mount a come back. We also see a lot of him with his girlfriend (who’s not credited in the trailer because patriarchy), showing that the studio wants to sell all angles of the emotional story that’s being told here. Overall, though, I can’t believe how much of the story outline is on display in this trailer. It leaves little to nothing to the imagination or for the audience to discover once they actually get in the theater. I’ve already seen this movie.

One more very weird trailer was released just days before the movie hit theaters. It sells the movie as being as much about sexy time with the wives/girlfriends of Duran and Leonard as it is about boxing. So it cuts from shots of the fighters training or squaring off at a press conference to them with their significant others, and not just hints of them being intimate but full on sex scenes between the pairs.

I really have to wonder what the logic behind going red-band this late in the campaign was. This reeks of desperation, like the studio saw tracking was weak and so panicked and decided to pull out this particular stop to try and get an audience that’s interested in seeing Usher’s bare ass on the big screen into theaters.

Online and Social

If the movie had a website I can’t find it. What I could find, though, were Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles that kept sharing videos, links to sweepstakes, information on buying tickets, upcoming cast appearances and other promotional beats.

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Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Some TV spots were run, many of which focused on the core fight between Duran and Leonard, adding select elements like the romantic lives of both boxers, the drama around who’s promoting and even allowing the fights and so on to it to show the audience there’s more than just the action in the ring that’s going on in the movie.

The movie also sponsored a recent UFC fight broadcast, which makes a lot of sense.

Media and Publicity

The movie was announced as one that would receive a special screening at Cannes designed not to be part of the awards process but to build up buzz and sell it to the general audience.

There was a cool feature here in which Ramirez talked about the training regimen he underwent in order to get as close to being an actual boxer like Duran as he could.

Usher was the focus of this feature story, mostly because this is being positioned as his big cinematic break. So he talked about trying to visiting Sugar Ray Leonard to get his blessing, the training regime he undertook so he could move like the boxer and more.

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Ramirez made a few press appearances, sometimes with Duran himself, who also turned up at premieres and other events to help promote the story of his life.

Overall

I’m just not sure what’s going on with this campaign. It’s all over the place. On the one hand it’s being sold as a prestige drama that tells an inspiring story while on the other hand it’s suddenly being sold as the kind of movie you’d watch on Cinemax at 10:30 in 1988. And through much of the campaign Duran’s story almost seems to take a backseat to that of Arcel. That makes sense because DeNiro is obviously a movie legend while Ramirez is still relatively up-and-coming, but it takes the focus off of the subject of the story and could confuse audiences as to whose story it is we’re watching.

Similar to Ben-Hur last week, which focused almost exclusively on the chariot race, this campaign focuses heavily on the Duran/Leonard fights. It’s understandable since that’s an easy sell to the audience, but my hunch is that much of the movie’s story and drama happens outside the ring as Duran and Arcel navigate their relationship and the politics of the fight business. And much like Jared Leto in Suicide Squad, I’m guessing Usher isn’t in this movie nearly as much as the campaign features him. Let’s see if this connects with audiences at all, especially if that last-minute Hail Mary trailer did anything to move the needle.

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Movie Marketing Madness: Dirty Grandpa

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dirty_grandpa_ver4There’s a lot of comedy – or drama – to be mined in cross-generational stories. These kinds of situations offer plenty of opportunities for the older character to teach the younger one something valuable and the younger to show the older that they contain a bit of wisdom as well. There’s also plenty of ground to be covered wherein the older gets the younger into a high-larious situation of some sort that results in the embarrassment of both.

Dirty Grandpa is squarely in that category. Robert DeNiro – yes, that one – stars as Dick, a man whose wife has just passed away. This apparently means he’s out from under the thumb of the woman who’s been holding him back and so he convinces his grandson Jason (Zac Efron) to take him down to Florida on a post-funeral trip, despite the fact that Jason is just days away from getting married himself. Now that he’s a bachelor though Dick doesn’t feel so great about the institution of marriage and while he’s sowing his wild oats he also sows the seeds of doubt in Jason, who is otherwise a responsible guy.

The Posters

The first poster is basically a riff on the one-sheet for The Graduate, with Efron as Dustin Hoffman and DeNiro as Anne Bancroft, only his leg showing as he pulls up his sock, complete with that little thing to hold the socks up. The actor’s names are at the top and the title is below the image, just like on The Graduate poster. And just like that classic film, there’s copy off to the right and even the cadence of the copy echoes what’s seen on the other poster. “This is Jason. He’s a little worried about his grandpa.”

I’m not sure why *this* movie is the one to lift every single design element from The Graduate, but here we are. Not many people in the target demographic are going to look at this and say “Oh, I see what they’re doing here” so it seems like an odd choice on the part of the designers.

The second poster featured a similar amount of white space, but this time the main image is pulled straight from the trailer as we see Efron and DeNiro standing next to their car with a gas pump as they’re aghast at and admiring, respectively, the shorts-wearing backside of a young female who is mostly off-screen, in case you were wondering whether objectification of women was still a thing.

A third poster just featured Efron and DeNiro in a car driving along, the former looking slightly annoyed and as though he’d like to be anywhere else while the latter is smoking a cigar and looking like he’s having the time of his life.

Yet another poster – this is a LOT of posters for a mid-level comedy like this – showed DeNiro lifting Efron on his shoulders, both of them shirtless and with the copy “What did you learn from your grandparents?” at the top. So it’s really underlining the wacky buddy comedy aspect of the movie here along with Efron’s abs.

The Trailers

We immediately get the premise laid out for is in the opening moments of the first trailer. The wife of DeNiro’s character has just died but he wants to continue their tradition of going to Florida. So he’s accompanied by his grandson, who’s just days away from his own wedding. The elder man is ready to live it up whereas the younger is more buttoned down and just wants to do his thing and get home. Eventually Efron’s character loosens up (after becoming afraid married life will deny him all the joy he’s missed out on) and joins his grandfather at parties, clubs and more. All the while DeNiro’s character has a weird thing going on with a young co-ed played by Aubrey Plaza, who apparently is into older dudes in a big way.

I’ll leave out my issues with marriage as always being presented as a huge buzzkill and say the trailer looks kind of funny. Efron certainly has comedy chops and the way he and DeNiro play off each other looks moderately amusing. The plot with Plaza hitting on DeNiro is super-creepy, but I think we all kind of know that.

A second trailer – a red-band version – was released later that’s pretty funny. It hits some of the same story beats as the first trailer, but adds in a lot more salty language, particularly from DeNiro. The sexual repartee between him and Plaza is also a lot more explicit, which unfortunately just comes off as even more creepy. Still, this is a good trailer that shows the movie for what it’s meant to be, which is an excuse to see an old man swear and be way inappropriate.

A third trailer wasn’t a whole lot different than what had come before, just slightly repackaged.

Online and Social

That the “loading” symbol on the official site is a red cup should tell you everything you need to know about the marketing of the movie. The top of the site features a recreation of one of the posters and the prompt to watch one of the trailers again. As you scroll down there is a carousel with a rotating series of quotes from the film, most of which involve bras or other sexual references. Then, because the site is built on Tumblr there’s a whole section of GIFs, photos and videos that are all sharable both natively there and on other social networks.

After that there’s a call to watch the red-band trailer, which is followed by “The Story,” where you can read a brief synopsis of the story that may have also acted as the script. Then there’s “Cast,” which has the cast, their character names and a character description that is just a few words. “Gallery” has about a half-dozen stills.

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“Redacted Scripts” is kind of a cool feature that I wish were used on a better looking movie. Each image has a still from the movie along with a couple lines of dialogue with the curse words blacked out. That’s a neat execution. Finally there are two “Fun With Dick and Jason” items that present parts of the story in the manner of a children’s book. These recreate scenes we’ve largely seen in the trailers and again is kind of a fun idea but I feel like it’s being wasted on a sub-par movie.

There were also Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles where the studio shared videos, images and links.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots ran in the weeks leading up to release, most of which just reconfigured scenes from the trailers. So we saw DeNiro goose Efron with a golf club, yell “party till you’re pregnant” and more. The gist of the story is certainly conveyed, which is that Efron is an uptight stickler and DeNiro is cutting loose, with just a couple of them going into why that is.

Media and Publicity

There was surprisingly little publicity for the movie. Apparently the strategy was to stoke word-of-mouth through all the clips and other material and not expose the cast to the press too much. Julianne Hough would make the press rounds a bit to talk about the film but that was about it, at least up to just a few days before the film’s release. Kind of odd if you ask me.

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Overall

I usually try hard to focus on *just* the marketing when evaluating a campaign and see how it is going to appeal to the target audience. But this campaign is so filled with the worst kind of gender stereotypes it’s hard not to see it as the product of some other era. All the women presented here are either ballbusters (Dick’s dead wife, Jason’s fiance) or horndogs (Aubrey Plaza’s character) and the men are just trying to be themselves, darnit, despite the women who want to run everything. It’s…kind of terrible.

The focus in the campaign on those elements leads me to believe that’s not just something that being played up for comedic effect (though we can argue how funny these stereotypes still are in 2016) but is pretty representative of the movie as a whole. While sure dealing in stereotypes certainly *can* be the foundation for comedy, this just looks offensive from start to finish, without any greater societal point that’s being made. It’s as if a group of men who had just decided they were done with women got together and poured all their vitriol into a movie script that then was greenlit by a Hollywood studio. If that’s your thing this may appeal to you. Otherwise you may want to pass.

Movie Marketing Madness: Joy

joyThere’s a strong belief in America that anyone can accomplish anything. Usually this is put forward in the context bettering one’s self or rising above one’s given circumstances. We can debate how realistic that may or may not be, but there are enough stories out there about how people have either worked hard to become a success or had some form of incredible big idea – or flat out luck – to make it a narrative that persists.

The new movie Joy is about just such a narrative. Based on a true story, the movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as the titular character, a woman who has struggled with problems in family relationships, romantic relationships and life in general. But one day she creates something that not only brings her great success, which impacts all of those relationships, but also the kind of personal satisfaction and power that she’s always sought. The movie reunites Lawrence with Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell as well as co-stars Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro.

The Posters

The movie’s one poster puts the focus, unsurprisingly, on Lawrence. She’s shown alone on the one-sheet looking up into the sky of falling snow while wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket, which are meant to give her kind of an attitude. The cast list appears at the top while below it we’re reminded of some of Russell’s recent directorial efforts, including the two previous collaborations with the stars of this movie. At the bottom we’re told the movie is coming out on Christmas, a message that’s emphasized by the falling snow.

It’s a good poster that, mostly through the outfit Lawrence is wearing, tries to convey something about the character and the movie, but there’s not a lot to go on. The inclusion of snow on the poster seems like it’s trying to sell this as an outright Christmas movie, which isn’t supported by anything else about the campaign but which makes for a memorable visual if you see this online or in the theater hallway on your way to another movie.

The Trailers

The teaser trailer starts off with a young girl being told she’s going to grow up to be a strong woman. We cut to shots of Joy living her life, hanging out with friends, getting married, putting her daughter to bed and more while the narration continues. Then we see Joy’s life isn’t all that great with various scenes showing the rest of her family, a few shots of her sketching something (her mop invention), getting arrested and more, all while “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” plays. The spot ends with Joy firing a shotgun at something offscreen before she stops and finally introduces herself.

There’s very little dialogue here outside of the woman who is telling Joy what’s going to happen to her in her life, but we’re definitely able to get a sense of the movie and figure out that we’re going to be watching the ups and downs of Joy’s life. She’s presented as a no-nonsense woman who overcomes a lot of stuff but keeps her sense of self-worth intact.

The official theatrical trailer skips some of the setup and cuts straight to Lawrence’s character imparting some hard advice to her daughter before it cuts back to more of her story, from her marriage to her career and more. The focus here is on Joy’s independence and how hard she’s worked to get what she has

This one feels a lot tighter and more solidly constructed than the first one, giving a lot more detail into Joy’s character and showing off the core of the story much more clearly than the previous trailer.

Online and Social

The official website for the movie is a one-page site but has some cool stuff going on. At the top of the page, just below the title and a picture of Lawrence, are buttons prompting you to Watch the Trailer or connect with the movie on Facebook or Twitter. Below that there’s a prompt to get tickets now.

The first actual section here is “Videos” which has both trailers, a bunch of the TV spots and a featurette with Lawrence. Then the “About” section has a decent synopsis as well as cast and crew credits.

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You can see the one-sheet in the “Poster” section, which is followed by a prompt to sign-up for email alerts. The “Gallery” has nine stills from the movie you can scroll through. The site pulls in some of the movie’s Twitter posts in the “Social Updates” section with prompts to view more on Facebook or Twitter if you so choose.

Two very interesting sections finish the site. “News & Press” pulls in headlines and links to some of the stories in the press about the movie. And then there’s a section of “Related Movies” that shows the audience some other Fox films they may enjoy.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots would run that played with much more of a sense of whimsy than the trailers did. They show the dire situation Joy is in with debt, pressures of family who don’t get along and all that before showing she gets herself out of those situations with her big idea, which isn’t shown but which we do see is kind of a game-changer.

There was some online advertising done as well, most of it using either the one-sheet or another image of Lawrence. No promotional partners here, which isn’t surprising.

Media and Publicity

Lawrence would make the rounds in the press and via, talking about the movie while also promoting the latest Hunger Games movie.

Russell would also get a chance in the press, which is good since he just had the one movie to promote and not two. He talked about how this was his first female-centric movie as well as what it was like to work with a very similar group of actors time and again and more.

Lawrence’s previous comments about the gender pay gap in Hollywood would continue to resonate as she was asked about it time and again, as if the press was waiting for her to recant and disavow those comments. And her relationships in general would keep coming up in a way that it just doesn’t for male stars.  

Entertainment Weekly named Lawrence their Entertainer of the Year, an award that was ostensibly tied to The Hunger Games finale but which also provided a decent boost for Joy.

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After The Hunger Games was released the publicity campaign really kicked into high gear, with multiple interviews and more going out within days. That was both a result of likely needing to wait until the other movie’s cycle was finished and the desire to ride the wave of the last few stories about the finale of Lawrence’s best-known franchise.

That renewed push would focus primarily around a cast Q&A where Russell talked about making a movie with a female protagonist as the main character – something he hadn’t done before – the challenges of Lawrence playing a character over so much of her life and more. Lawrence would also tell Russell she was down for anything he was doing since she’s enjoyed working with him so much, as evidence by this being their third collaboration. DeNiro talked about the pleasure of being part of Russell’s regular troupe, something that allows him to gain some experience with the actors he’s working with over time.

The screening of the movie that preceded the Q&A also allowed some critics and speculators to point out that this is absolutely Lawrence’s movie, something that could have awards implications as the year winds down.

Not all of the press would focus on Lawrence, though, as this story turned to the working relationship between Russell and Cooper and how they too have made three movies together. That theme would continue in stories like this that focused on how these four are reuniting once again.

Overall

How much this campaign works for you will, I’m thinking, depend greatly on not only your perspective of Jennifer Lawrence and her body of work but also your awareness and fondness for the previous movies she, Cooper and DeNiro have made with David O. Russell. That reunion between the director and those actors is the centerpiece of the campaign as a way to not only appeal to Lawrence’s legion of fans (both those who came to her after Winter’s Bone and those who are more Hunger Games-oriented) as well as the crowd that is more into discussing talent and other industry-centric topics.

Outside of that the campaign presents a movie that’s focused on a “give zero fucks” woman who isn’t afraid to fall in love even if that someone may not be a guy everyone approves of. But at a time when strong, independent women who are in control of their own lives and fate are a hot topic in all aspects of culture and media this movie could strike at a great time, and assuming the campaign has reflected and sold the movie accurately. There’s a lot to like here, even if some of the choices the campaign makes are a bit dodgy, such as the lack of dialogue on display in most of the trailers. Still, a solid effort for what looks like an entertaining film.

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Movie Marketing Madness: The Intern

Intern_Poster1“Late life reinvention” is a pretty common movie trope. It’s a subset of the fish-out-of water idea along with “Adult returns to their childhood home town and rediscovers her/himself” and other story outlines that allow for an easy character arc. The LLR framework allows for the storyteller to put an older character who otherwise should be settled into his or her life through some sort of arc as they learn something new and inevitably teach those around them something new as well. Not saying there’s anything wrong with this, but it’s familiar ground.

Into that subgenre comes The Intern. Robert DeNiro plays Ben, a retiree who, after a long and successful working life, has hit his limit of not being productive. So he applies to be a “senior intern” at an up-and-coming fashion website started and run by Jules Ostin, played by Anne Hathaway. His buttoned-down style, of course, isn’t a great fit with the sweatpants and snapback start-up culture, but of course everyone is going to learn to get along and find that everyone has something to teach and a lesson to learn.

The Posters

There’s only the one poster and it’s…alright. DeNiro and Hathaway are side-by-side and walking toward the camera, him looking very dapper in a blue suit and her looking very stylish in a red dress. It’s odd that she’s looking directly at the camera while he’s looking just slightly off to what would be his left. But the overall point being made by this image is that they are partners, at least to some extent, and both look pretty happy with how things have turned out. Overlaid on them is the tagline “Experience never gets old,” which nicely sums up the movie’s plot.

The target audience for the movie is made clear by the entire rest of the poster elements. The name of the director, Nancy Meyers, is right there below the tagline and below the title treatment are some of her credits, which include Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday and It’s Complicated, most of which – and this isn’t a value judgement, it’s just a statement of fact – appeal to an older audience. They’re what someone once termed “copper pot above the kitchen island” movies, mostly about older characters who still want to feel young. These movies are pretty successful with that demographic, so it makes sense that the studio would want to highlight this filmography.

The Trailers

The first trailer introduces to Ben as he’s in the middle of a job interview, which gets us immediately into a “Ben is old” joke. He gets into the office routine and meets everyone, a process that highlights the difference between his old-school business style and the untucked nature of everyone else there. He bonds with Jules as the two spend more time together. Then we see Jules is having her own problems as her inexperience running a company is creating issues for investors. But Ben is there to keep her propped up emotionally.

It’s a pretty good trailer that makes it clear that this is as safe as possible for anyone looking for some decent, predictable laughs…or at least smirks. Most of the humor, this trailer suggests, will come from jokes about DeNiro’s age. And much of the pathos will come from Hathaway’s struggles to keep her company not only afloat but also under her own control.

The second trailer spends a bit more time showing Ben’s life before becoming an intern, which he says is kind of empty and in need of a new challenge. The scenes of him and Jules meeting are a bit more extended here before it shifts to him giving some much-needed life advice to the young hipsters in the office, which then leads into more of Ben helping Jules feel the confidence to face her work challenges with courage.

There are a lot of the same scenes from the first trailer and it works about as well and for many of the same reasons, not changing the overall taste just adding a few new elements here and there.

Online and Social

the intern pic 1The movie’s official website appears to be built on Tumblr and opens with a takeover by the second trailer. Once you close that you get a nicely Photoshopped image of DeNiro and Hathaway starring at each other across an open computer. You can open the menu by clicking the icon in the upper left-hand corner.

The first section is “Videos,” which just has the two trailers. The “Gallery” has about 10 stills from the movie, none of which can be downloaded as image files because we apparently still think that’s actually a thing we need to worry about. The “About” section has a decent write-up of the movie’s story along with the credits of the principal players involved on both sides of the camera. You can grab the poster, some banners and the stand-alone title treatment in “Downloads.” If you click on the title treatment that’s under the “Worldwide Release Dates” section you’re presented with a number of promotional images and banners that you are encouraged to share to various social networks to, presumably, signal to your friends that you’re really looking forward to this movie.

Moving off-domain, the movie’s Facebook page is a nice collection of links to press stories, plenty of those shareable social media graphics that are found on the site and more. They liberally participated in internet trends like #MCM, #WCW, #TBT and so on, which never works for brands as well as they probably think it does.

The Instagram profile has a lot of the same material, just without the press stories for obvious reasons as well as photos from the movie’s premiere. The Twitter page has, again, lots of the same posts as well as plenty of Retweets of the cast and crew as they made the press rounds and otherwise discussed and promoted the movie. And the Google+ page is virtually identical to Facebook.

There was a lot of activity on the movie’s Pinterest profile. That ranged from the same sort of behind-the-scenes photos, promotional images and so on found elsewhere to a much more fleshed-out board of “Editorial,” which in this case means covers and other photos from publicity shoots by Hathaway in particular.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The TV spots that were run for the movie hit many of the same beats as the trailers, focusing on Ben’s fish-out-of-water story in the startup culture. They’re both pleasant enough and give the audience enough of an idea of the movie’s story to lure interest, I’m sure.

Those and other TV ads were in steady enough rotation to put the movie on the list of top TV spenders this past week (Variety, 9/20/15).

I also saw plenty of pre-roll ads on YouTube, promoted posts on Twitter and so on for the movie.

The only promotional partner I found for the movie was One Kings Lane, which set up a shop where people could buy the same items that were used to decorate the set of the office where much of the action is set. That’s kind of cool, but I have to laugh at the idea of the set designers trying to create the proto-typical startup office for some reason. Reminds me of the early ‘90s when we would joke about the “coffee shop in a box” as every new store had the same kind of artwork, the same seven scones and the same 12 chairs.

Media and Publicity

the intern pic 2Anne Hathaway seems to have been the center of the publicity campaign, which isn’t all that surprising. Not only is Jules, her character, the one around whom most of the action hinges but making her the primary voice of the movie (along with Meyers) means you get to appeal to a much younger demographic than if DeNiro is out in front. Not that he’s invisible or in hiding here, but it’s clearly Hathaway’s show here.

She was profiled in Glamour UK (9/3/15) in an interview that garnered lots of secondary press since she was quoted as saying she’s feeling as though she’s aging out of Hollywood’s favor, having lost roles to younger actresses. In a Refinery29 profile (9/15) the emphasis seemed to be on making her seem normal and relatable, emphasizing her love of reality TV, football, penchant for dressing like the entire rest of the country (ie jeans and a t-shirt) and so on.

Hathaway and Meyers were both put in the hot seat in an LA Times sit-down interview (9/6/15) where they talked about the characters in the movie as well as sexism in the film industry, why it’s been so long since Meyers last made a movie and more. Then Meyers went solo for an interview (Vulture, 9/11/15) that again touched on industry sexism, the themes that run through her entire filmography, the inspiration for this movie and more. A lot of that also made its way into this New York Times interview (9/20/15).

The set design became a central component of the campaign as well. The One Kings Lane promotion got some press itself (USA Today, 9/19/15) and lifestyle magazine Traditional Home did a whole feature (9/15) on that set design and what inspired the looks of the office set, Jules’ home and other central locations in the movie.

Overall

This is a perfectly pleasant campaign, which I’m guessing is representative of the movie as whole. That’s in line with Meyers’ movies as a whole, most of which are pleasant and relatively inoffensive portraits of affluent white America. Everyone’s trying to have it all (whatever “it all” is dependent on the particular movie) and it all turns out pretty well in the end, the audience having enjoyed the equivalent of a Dairy Queen sundae, something you usually enjoy but which you kind of know isn’t the most substantive of snacks.

That’s why it makes sense for the campaign to focus so heavily on Meyers as a brand name and lean on her previous films. The people who say “Oh, I liked It’s Complicated…let’s go see this.” will walk away more or less satisfied, having watched a movie that was likely exactly what they expected it to be. There’s nothing wrong with this. It reaches the intended demographic, it does so effectively and efficiently and will likely deliver on the promise being made.