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.


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.


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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Movie Marketing Madness: The Hollars

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The new movie The Hollars covers a familiar topic: That of the problems of dealing with family. In the movie John Krasinski (who also directed) plays John, the son of Don and Sally (Richard Jenkins and Martindale). John is an artist who’s left his small hometown to be a success in New York City, though he hasn’t quite achieved that success yet. He’s back because his mother is about to have brain surgery but that also means dealing with his largely dysfunctional, if still loving, family.

While he’s once again in the midst of family drama John is also dealing with changes in his own life, most notably that his girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) is pregnant with twins, leading him to question whether he’s ready for such a big step and kind of freak out a little. That’s even further complicated by the fact that the nurse who’s helping his mother is the husband of an ex-girlfriend. So it’s one more story about how an early-30s white guy can’t cope with the fact that he’s getting older and that there’s something expected of him. Let’s take a look at how Sony Classics is selling it.

The Posters

I really like the design going on in the first poster. With pictures that are broken up and spread around like a collage, they show different groupings of the cast as a way to convey some of the key story elements. So you see Krasinski and Kendrick both in a loving situation and with him wheeling her very pregnant self down a hospital corridor, Jenkins and Martindale laughing in a hospital room and so on. It’s not going to win any design awards, but I like how it’s used to not just show off the cast but also tell the audience something about what they’ll be watching.

The Trailers

The first trailer opens with the family gathering around Sally as she’s admitted to the hospital for what is a serious problem but which everyone first thought was just a symptom of her being overweight, which is meant to show kind of how this family operates. We see John hasn’t been around a whole lot, and his return brings some issues out into the open, including his failure to commit to Rebecca, his pregnant girlfriend. It also brings him back into his ex-girlfriend Gwen, who still has feelings for him, evidenced by her kissing him while he’s over for dinner with her and her husband, who’s also the nurse caring for John’s mom. Rebecca goes into labor, everyone learns some lessons and the trailer is done.

It’s a good trailer that sells a movie we’ve seen a number of times before. There’s nothing that’s shown here that isn’t pretty familiar to audiences of this kind of mid-level ensemble indie dramady, so what the trailer needs to sell is what’s around the edges, the gracenotes that differentiate this from what’s come before. It does that to some extent by focusing on Martindale, including by using critics’ quotes praising her performance. Yes, there are more recognizable stars, but she’s the secret weapon so the trailer is wise to pull her out to help sell yet another story of a dysfunctional white family.

Online and Social

When you load the official site the trailer plays in a pop-up and when you close that you get a cropped recreation of the key art. You can access the site’s content by either using the menu on the right or just scrolling down the page.

First up is “About” which has a good story Synopsis along with a Director’s Statement where Krasinski talks a little about what drew him to the material, what he’s trying to say with the movie and more.

After that the “Cast” section gives you brief career writeups about the major actors, of which there are plenty. Click any of their names and you’ll be able to read a history of their work. That’s followed by “Filmmakers” which is the same thing but for those behind-the-scenes.

the hollars pic 1

The “Gallery” has a number of stills from the movie. Then “Links” has links (natch) to the movie’s Facebook page as well as to the IMDB profiles for the cast. Finally there’s a section called “Reviews” but at this time there’s only one review there, including a link to the full piece.

At the very bottom of the page there’s another link to the movie’s Facebook page as well as the Sony Network Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’m aware of here, though I’m sure there will be some online ads run over the course of this week as well as after the movie has finally hit theaters, particularly if or when it starts expanding from limited release.

Media and Publicity

The movie debuted at Sundance 2016, where it got decent word-of-mouth for the cast, if not the story, and what generally seen to be a pleasant film that would play well with most audiences. While there Krasinski and the rest of the cast talked about the story and how the film fit into the overall Sundance narrative. It wasn’t one of the early sales but the film was eventually picked up by Sony Pictures Classics.

the hollars pic 2

Outside of that, though, there doesn’t seem to have been much of a press push. Mostly the coverage appears to have been generated by the release of marketing materials and clips and now from cast making the rounds. There’s been a little of that but not much.


I do like this campaign. It’s not exactly a huge push but the trailer is solid and the rest of the marketing sells a movie that, as I said, seems more than a little familiar but doesn’t necessarily suffer for it. It’s not making any great claims to originality but does promise a decent story that we more or less know, but with a few variations around the edges to give it some flavor. It’s a burger, but one with the special sauce from that restaurant you like that gives it a little kick.

The biggest problems it has to overcome, it seems are 1) It’s very much a White Guys Problem movie, with an all-white cast complaining about things that only happen to middle-class, relatively comfortable Caucasians and 2) That it doesn’t seem to have much buzz coming into opening week. There’s no one talking about this and that’s not going to do any favors for it in theaters. The familiarity of the subject matter could be contributing to this, making it something that sure, you’ll watch on Netflix when it’s there in a year but it hasn’t made a strong enough case to seek it out.

Movie Marketing Madness: Equity

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Tech and finance are two industries that, rightly or wrongly, are seen as being male-dominated in the worst possible ways. The technology sector is rife with examples of the “bro” culture that puts a premium on being one of the guys, while finance is seen as being particularly well-suited for a man’s take-no-prisoners approach. While men are lauded for these kinds of behaviors, women who either carve their own path or dive in deep and become just as ruthless as the guys are seen as “difficult” or “pushy,” which become code words for men feeling uncomfortable around women who don’t conform to old-fashioned cultural types.

The new movie Equity is about woman who is unapologetically ruthless. Anna Gunn plays Naomi Bishop, a senior investor at a major Wall Street firm. She’s risen to the peak of her career and is about to take a new company public in a big way. But while she’s enjoying all of this things begin to unravel as scandal creeps in around the IPO, threatening to derail her career and possibly send her to prison for misconduct. At the same time she has to put up with the antiquated notions evinced by some of the men around her, who are threatened by a woman coming and playing on their turf and using the same tactics they do.

The Posters

The movie’s one poster takes the story’s four major players and arranges them on the one-sheet, all looking directly at or just to the side of the camera. In the background is a series of stock charts and ticker symbols, clearly telling the audience the drama will be unfolding in the world of financial markets in some manner. At the top the tagline tells us “On Wall Street, not all players are created equal,” which hints at the sexual politics that will drive some of the story along.

It’s a decent poster but kind of comes off like the cover to a second-rate John Grisham novel. There’s no verve or spark here. It just presents the cast and the basic premise in a flat, matter-of-fact kind of way and hopes that’s enough for the audience.

The Trailers

As the first trailer beings we meet Naomi, who explains that she just likes money, which leads into a voiceover about her credentials as a powerhouse mover and shaker. She’s working on taking a new company public but, as we see, there are complications. Someone has leaked details of the deal and it’s creating a problems with investors, regulators and others.

Gunn looks amazing in this as a woman who’s unapologetically successful in her world but who also sees enemies everywhere. This is a tight, energetic trailer that showcases her performance, which is the primary selling point.

The second trailer is almost identical to the first, save for a shot or two here and there. Same structure and flow, though, and the same stakes are presented.

Online and Social

The official website is surprisingly robust for a mid-level movie like this. The trailer plays in a pop-up when the site loads and there’s a big button at the top in case you’d like to watch it again. Next to that is a button saying “Buy out your city” that allows you to setup a screening in your area in case it’s not playing near you, which is pretty cool. It makes me wonder what sort of outreach and pitching the studio did to groups that might have been interested in doing that kind of thing since I imagine there’s a higher return on investment with that kind of effort as opposed to the random interest that might occur from *just* the right person seeing that button on the site.

Anyway, shifting over to the menu, the first section of material is the “Synopsis,” which takes you through pretty intense detail as to the story, the movie’s characters, what their motivations are and more.

equity pic 1

The past and current credits for the main players can be found in the “Cast” section, which offers backgrounds on most of the top-line stars. Similar write-ups for those behind the scenes are in “Filmmakers.”

“Real Women of Wall Street” takes you into…well…just that. Two areas within this section explain how the producers and others decided to explore this world and shows statistics as to how women are or aren’t represented in the top financial companies, as well as the disparity in income they face and other interesting – and sometimes disheartening – facts about the challenges they face in this environment.

There’s a pretty robust “Gallery” that has a couple behind-the-scenes shots along with quite a few stills from the movie itself. “Reviews” will presumably have quotes from or links to critical feedback but now is still labeled as coming soon. Finally you can “Find a Theater” to see when the movie will be coming to a theater in your area.

The movie’s Facebook and Twitter profiles have information on showtimes, links to press stories, trailers and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’ve seen, but I’d be willing to bet there’s been some targeted online advertising done and that there will be more as the movie expands into markets beyond Los Angeles and New York City.

Media and Publicity

The movie debuted at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, where it got alright buzz and word-of-mouth, particularly for Gunn’s performance.

equity pic 2

Most of the publicity for the movie revolved equally around the movie itself and the real-life women of Wall Street who have to do their job in the a harsh, sometimes offensive environment. So there were features focusing on how rarely we see unapologetically successful women and the kind of sexist place Wall Street used to be, how producer Megan Smith Thomas put together a female-led picture like this, how she researched the topic and got the production green-light and much more.


There’s a solid campaign here, both for the movie itself and as a PSA for how women are either unrepresented in the financial world or harassed and held to different standards than their male counterparts. The formal marketing is selling the former while the press, with a bit of support on the website, is selling the latter. Both are worthwhile efforts and the one supports the other, particularly on a movie that features so many women both in front of and behind the camera. This plays like the campaign for a message-driven movie and works on both levels.

Gunn is obviously the centerpiece of the push for a movie that’s being sold as half a female-empowerment story and half a tense Wall Street thriller about financial regulations and investigations. The former, though, is the part of the campaign, at least, that works best. The part of the movie that’s about women unabashedly being who they are – whether that’s a cutthroat banker or crusading, law-abiding regulator – is the one that appears much more intriguing than the story of potential corporate malfeasance. That’s largely because it’s a much more vital and original story and so presents the bigger value proposition to the audience.

Movie Marketing Madness: Miles Ahead

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When Steve Jobs came out last year many people took issues with the number of artistic liberties the story took with what they were apparently expecting to be a straight biography of the Apple founder, particularly since it was based on a book that *was* an actual biography. But the movie invented lots of scenarios and situations in the interest of breaking some new ground and not treading the same ground as other 78 Jobs features and documentaries that have come out since he passed away. Still, the structure of the movie and that it wasn’t “true” seemed to rub some critics and audiences the wrong way.

Which is why it will be interesting to see what the reactions are to Miles Ahead. The movie is a biopic of the famed jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, he of “Sketches in Spain,” “Birth of the Cool” and other iconic records that pushed the boundaries of the instrument and the musical form. Davis is played by Don Cheadle, who also wrote and directed the movie. But instead of following the usual format for a movie like this it instead creates a fictional situation where Davis has to track down recordings he feels have been stolen with the help of a journalist (Ewan McGregor) who’s on assignment to interview him. The experiences of Davis’ life are then presented within that framework.

The Posters

The official theatrical poster shows Cheadle as Davis about to get into a car, which isn’t all that exciting. The image is a bit blurry but there’s nothing all that engaging about it. A couple of critics’ quotes appear at the top praising the movie and Cheadle’s performance and above the title treatment we see the badges of the festivals it’s appeared at. Below that title is the copy “If you gonna tell a story, come with some attitude,” which is pulled from the movie itself.

The Trailers

We’re immediately shown Cheadle as Davis in the first trailer as he tells people to tell the story right if they’re going to do it. We cut to him meeting McGregor’s journalist, something he does not take kindly to. Then we jump back Davis’ earlier days as he starts out in the business and meets his future wife. There’s a story about how someone has stolen a recording he’s working on and works to get it back but mostly the rest of the trailer cuts back and forth between time periods in Davis’ life to show how uncompromising the musician is in his pursuit of whatever sound he’s working on.

It’s kind of a great trailer that, true to its subject matter, has a great voice and point of view. It’s clear the movie will present Davis as a troubled genius while hitting some of the usual stations of the biopic cross. But Cheadle’s performance is the real draw here and that presents a strong case for going and seeing the movie in and of itself.

Online and Social

The movie’s official website opens with the trailer appearing in a pop-up video player.

The first main section of content is “About” which has a good Synopsis of the story along with The Making of Miles Ahead, which goes into the issues the filmmakers had with schedules and other technical issues and GoGo Nation, which lists the names of those who contributed to the IndieGoGo campaign to make up for a budget shortfall.

The people in front of the camera, with the exception of Cheadle, get bios and in-depth filmographies in the “Cast” section. Cheadle gets his due with the rest of the behind-the-scenes crew in the “Filmmakers” section, where everyone gets equally extensive write-ups.

miles ahead pic 2

There are about two dozen stills in the “Gallery” and you can find out everything you need to know about Davis himself in the “World of Miles Davis” section, which has links to his website, social network profiles and more.

“Reviews” has some blurbs from early screenings of the movie and “Find a Theater” lets you figure out where it might be playing near you.

There’s not a whole lot on the movie’s Facebook page. Links to press stories, uploaded videos like trailers and some engagement bait. But there’s lots of activity if you go back to 2014 and follow how Cheadle and the other filmmakers were using it to drum up interest in the IndieGoGo, including offering lots of perks and other incentives. The Twitter profile for the movie has lots of the same activity, but with more RTing and such, though there’s little to no engagement with or amplification of fans.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’m aware of on this front. There may have been some online advertising done but I didn’t see anything. It’s also a safe bet there were some outdoor ads run in the cities in which the movie is opening this weekend.

Media and Publicity

The movie was slated to debut at the New York Film Festival and the official trailer for that festival provided a few quick glimpses at the movie in advance of its own marketing efforts kicking off. Clips from the movie would continue to be released here and there to keep things going.

The big coming out party would be held at the New York Film Festival, where Cheadle had to spend some time defending the film’s artistic liberties but where it received a mostly positive reception. At that screening Cheadle and some of this cast would talk about how, as the director, he would stay in character as Davis in an effort to bring that kind of sensibility and attitude not just to his performance but to his approach to the film as a whole.

miles ahead pic 1

The difficulty in making the movie – indeed of even conceiving of the framing device for the story – was consistently the subject of press stories, including this substantial Rolling Stone interview with Cheadle as well as this New York Times interview. In it he talked about how they took an intentionally unconventional approach to portraying Davis and his life, not wanting it to be standing biopic structure. He also admitted, as he had elsewhere, that the financing for the movie never really came together until they were able to cast a white guy in a major role, which is where the invention of McGregor’s fictional journalist entered the picture.

Cheadle kept talking about the journey the story took to a finished film in this interview conducted by current jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, who’s been compared to Davis and who is seen as continuing his experimental legacy. McGregor did some press as well with interviews like this where he talked about working with Cheadle, taking direction from another actor and the movie in general.


What I get from this campaign is a lot of hustle, by which I mean Cheadle in particular is out there working hard to drum up interest for the movie. That certainly speaks to his passion for the story and how he had to work to get funding not only from traditional investors but also via the IndieGoGo campaign. He’s made the movie happen through sheer force of will and now he’s working to sell the movie in the same manner, by just getting out there in everyone’s face.

And it works. The marketing feels a little disjointed at times – the trailer has an interesting flow that takes a couple viewings to really get – and there’s no real consistency between the various elements. But regardless of some issues with the execution it all works in the direction of selling a movie that has a unique and interesting point of view and story. Cheadle is, of course, the centerpiece here in a push that sells the movie as a buddy caper that just so happens to involve a musical legend.

Movie Marketing Madness: I Saw The Light

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The “troubled genius” is usually a good target for a biopic. Filmmakers – and the resulting audience – get to revel in the things we know about that person from whatever it is they contributed to popular culture or society in general while at the same time getting to dig into the darker elements of their character. It actually serves a huge narrative purpose since too much overt positivity can come off as an uncritical puff piece as opposed to something that spans the range of human emotions, which helps audiences connect with the material.

Entering that genre this week is I Saw The Light, the story of country music legend Hank Williams. Tom Hiddleston plays Williams in a story that focuses on the singer’s short, incredible and tragic career. Williams of course produced some of country music’s most important foundational music but was, as many such artists are, troubled by his own personal demons that drove him to drugs and alcohol, leading to problems in his personal life as well as his professional one, with the singer ultimately dying at age 29 but with an incredible body of work behind him.

The Posters

The first and only poster was concerned primarily with presenting Hiddleston as Williams. So he’s the only visual element on the one-sheet, shown in full garb and standing at a Grand Ole Opry microphone. At the top is a critical blurb comparing Hiddleston’s performance to that of Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn, which is high praise indeed.

The Trailers

The first trailer starts off by introducing Hiddleston as Williams and continues to show the stations of the biopic formula. The first third is very hopeful as we hear and see about how talented Williams is and how he’s married a good woman and so on. But that all quickly falls apart as we see him descend further and further into alcohol, drugs, cheating on his wife and more irresponsible behavior. It’s clear Williams is no saint, though the movie seems to be trying to give him a redemption arc.

There’s barely a shot here that doesn’t have Hiddleston in it, so it’s clear (for obvious reasons) that he’s the big draw here. And most all the trailer features either shots of him singing or the sound of him singing in the background, so the marketers want to make sure everyone knows there’s plenty of music in this biopic. It’s very effecting and emotional, but it does come across as a pretty standard biopic in terms of structure.

Online and Social

The trailer plays when you pull up the official website but that’s just the tip of the iceberg on a fairly robust site.

After that the first section is “About” where you can read a Synopsis of the story, a statement from director Marc Abraham and then another piece that’s basically an interview with Abraham. In both of the latter he talks about what drew him to the story and what he’s trying to do by telling it.

I love the next section, “Characters,” because it works to give us some information about the real people being portrayed in the movie, including using images of those people, not the actors who are playing them. There’s a ton of good background here, something that continues in the “Timeline” section. There you’ll find an outline of the major events of Williams’ career, at least (presumably) those that portrayed in the movie.

i saw the light pic 3

You get *very* in-depth career histories on the major players in front of the camera in the “Cast” section and similarly robust looks at those behind the camera in “Filmmakers.”

There are 32 images in the “Film Gallery,” including mostly official stills with a few behind-the-scenes shots mixed in. The “Historical Gallery” has a half-dozen shots of the real-life Williams and his wives and band.

“The World of Hank Williams” takes you to various official sites related to Williams, from his estate’s page to that of the museum in his honor and more. Finally, “Reviews” has a few short snippets from early reviews of the movie.

The Facebook page for the movie is filled with countdown images, links to various press stories and images and other media to keep the promotional train humming. Of particular note are all the images that feature other artists’ quotes about the influence Williams had on them specifically or the industry as a whole. It seems clearly targeted at reaching country music fans and establishing the credentials for the movie as being fitting of the legend. There wasn’t a Twitter page for the movie so it just borrowed space on the /SonyClassics feed.

Advertising and Cross-Promotion

There was at least a little bit of TV advertising done with spots like this one running that don’t so much lay out the story but try to show off the man at the center of it. So they’re not concerned with building toward something dramatic as much as they are about presenting a flawed character and asking the audience to come along for the ride. That spot also specifically calls out that the movie is not just opening in L.A. and New York but also Nashville, which makes a ton of sense.

I’m sure there was at least a bit of online advertising done and the Facebook page shows off some outdoor billboards that were placed presumably in key markets where the movie is opening so it seems to have gotten at least decent paid support.

Media and Publicity

While there was plenty of buzz about the movie ahead of time things really took off when a clip was released via Hiddleston’s Twitter account showing him as Williams recording a tune. That came out just before the movie’s debut at the Toronto Film Festival, which garnered mixed reviews, with some critics saying it was great and might be an awards contender while others said it was kind of shockingly bad.

After the movie’s premiere in Nashville, Hiddleston opted to jump on stage at a local club and perform a few songs as Williams.

i saw the light pic 2

In an interview closer to release Hiddleston talked about how he got himself ready for the role, particularly in how he spent time getting to know and connecting with the songs Williams wrote so he could convey something personal with his performance. Prep work was a theme here as well, as he talked about one of the first times he was coaxed up on stage as part of his training. Olsen’s preparation was also discussed in an interview with her.

The movie’s impending release also seems to have opened up a new chance to reevaluate and appreciate Williams’ contributions to music, as this story dives back into his history and impact as well as how he continues to influence country music today.  


Hiddleston is a hot actor right now, thanks largely to his ability to do more with the Loki character in the Marvel movies than what was on the page and other recent turns. So the campaign here focuses on him with the hopes that at least some of his new fans will turn out and see what he can do outside of that role. There’s also an obvious appeal being made to country music fans as a whole, trading on Williams’ continued relevance to that genre with direct messages right to that group, which makes a lot of sense from a subject-matter point of view.

Beyond that, the campaign sells a movie that doesn’t sugarcoat some of the problems Williams went through in his short but prolific life. Sure, it still presents him as a man who was heralded as a genius both while and after he was alive, but the marketing shows that the ways he fell short of being someone to truly look up to and idolize, at least personally. Williams may be a relatively obscure figure – he doesn’t have the broad cultural awareness of someone like Johnny Cash – so the challenge is to make the movie, through the campaign, relevant to the bigger audience, a bar I’m not completely sure is cleared here. But for those who enjoy a good biopic or those who *are* hip to Williams’ role in music, there’s a lot to latch onto here.

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Movie Marketing Madness: The Bronze

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You work all your life, you devote all your resources and energy, all toward a goal that seems like the pinnacle of your existence. Nothing could ever top that, so you sacrifice and push yourself in that direction, leaving a wake of failed relationships and other damage in your wake. It’s something only the most dedicated and competitive people among us can do, which is part of what makes them elite athletes, writers, actors or whatever their chosen field is. Once they achieve that goal it can be hard to figure out what’s next. That’s particularly true if someone works that hard and comes up just shy of that goal.

That’s the premise of The Bronze. Melissa Rauch plays Hope, a former Olympic gymnast who came within inches of winning it all, only to fall short because of a freak accident. Years later, bitter and still trading off her brief and tarnished success, Hope is living with her dad in a small town. One day she’s given the chance to coach an up-and-coming athlete, something she’s reluctant to do because she refuses to take a back seat to anyone. But doing so leads to opportunities she didn’t expect.

The Posters

There’s not much to the first and only poster. It just shows Rauch standing there with a look that conveys plenty of attitude and holding up three fingers, a reference to her having won third place in the Olympics. The copy “There’s no place like third” appears just above the title treatment to bring it all together.

The Trailers

When the movie finally did get a trailer it was a red-band edition that starts out by showing the Olympics Hope competed in and where she won her bronze medal. But then an accident during competition sends her home unsure of what her future is. When she’s confronted by another Olympian she goes on an expletive-filled rant about how, essentially, she can do whatever she wants. But it becomes clear she’s a bit of a diva who isn’t willing to settle for anything other than stardom, no matter whose feelings she hurts.

Rauch is pretty funny in this trailer but it remains to be seen whether a collection of raunchy scenes and dialogue can equal an enjoyably, consistently funny movie.

The next trailer is much better in presenting the story. We see Hope has not only still getting an allowance from her dad but stealing money from his mail truck. Despite her instance she won’t do so she eventually begins coaching the girlfriend of an old friend.

That’s about it, though there are plenty of supporting scenes as well. it’s a much better trailer than the first and gives the audience a much better idea of what they’re getting into.

Online and Social

The official website opens by playing the second trailer again. There’s a menu at the top of the page but it’s easier just to scroll down and cover each section as it comes.

The “Social Stream” section brings in a curated stream of updates from Twitter and Instagram that use the #BronzeMovie hashtag, both from official and fan accounts. So it’s a nice mix of things from the studio and talent and from fans who are just excited for the movie. There’s a nice synopsis of the story in the “Synopsis” section that explains what’s going to drive the plot pretty well.

the bronze pic 1

The “Cast” and “Filmmakers” offer good career recaps of the major players in front of and behind the camera when you click on their names. Finally there’s a “Gallery” that has almost 20 stills, mostly from the movie but also one or two behind-the-scenes shots.

The movie’s Facebook page has links to clips and other promotional and marketing items. It’s also filled with graphics that try to put Hope in a meme-like state, putting her face on backgrounds with big, bold text including lines from the movie. That also include things that look like slightly skewed inspirational posters. The Twitter profile had the same stuff along with RTs of the cast as well as Rauch’s “Big Bang Theory” costars who were professing their love of the movie. And Instagram was just those images along with some short videos.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There was some online advertising done that used the movie’s key art. And at least a few TV spots like this one ran that condensed the story down as much as possible, focusing on the abrasive nature of Hope’s character and some of the raunchy humor instead of trying to go too far in explaining or laying out the story.  

These aren’t great since I feel the more you know about that story and the characters the better in this situation. General spots that just try to position it as mildly funny aren’t going to work. It’s why I think the clips that were released are actually among the strongest part of the campaign.

Media and Publicity

The movie debuted at Sundance 2015 where it got some decent reviews, many of which particularly called out Rauch’s enthusiastic performance. After that things went pretty quiet until later in the year when it was picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classic , who rescued it from Relativity, which was going through bankruptcy and was in no position to release it. It wouldn’t be until a few months later, though, that a release date was announced.

the bronze pic 2Rauch and the rest of the cast talked about the inspiration behind the movie, how they prepared for their roles and more at its premiere. Rauch was interviewed a handful of times and shared the story behind what inspired she and her husband to write it as well as the origin of “that” scene along with more. Stan talked about how he approached his role in the movie, basing his character on some of the real-life jerks he’s known and so on, including how it was to make this part of a wave of comedies he’s doing to expand his range a bit.


Well, you can’t say the campaign doesn’t work to sell the true nature of the movie. Most everything is designed to remind you as often as possible that the movie is a raunchy comedy about an inherently unlikable character who’s put in a position where she has to think about something other than herself for the first time in forever. Rauch is certainly the centerpiece but I’m not sure the marketing makes the case for her being able to carry the premise through the entire movie.

One thing I notice is that there’s no redemption arc that’s even hinted at in the campaign. That might be because that’s not the movie the studio wants to sell, instead solely focusing on the nastiness of Hope and her abrasiveness toward everyone because they feel that’s the stronger angle. Or it might be because that part of the story simply doesn’t exist. That will remain to be seen. In the meantime, this campaign is for those who like their comedy as offensive and foul-mouthed as possible.

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