Movie Marketing Madness: Another Earth

Even if we’re not massive egomaniacs we all do still like to believe we’re in some fashion unique. We go through life with the belief that the decisions we’re making are the ones only we would make based on our previous experiences, that we’re the only ones seeing the world from this particular point of view and so on. Again, this isn’t ego-based thinking that our perspective is so super special (though some people certainly fall into that trap) it’s just a basic assumption that there is not an exact duplicate of us who’s mimicking our every move.

But what if we do indeed have a double out there somewhere?

That’s the basic premise of Another Earth. One day a mysterious planet appears in the heavens that appears to be just like Earth. When communication is established between the two worlds it’s discovered that this visiting world doesn’t just look like Earth…it’s in fact a duplicate of this one, with all the same people and everything. Budding astrophysicist Rhoda (Brit Marling) has been struggling with a tragedy she feels responsible for and becomes curious as to what decisions her doppelganger made when confronted with similar circumstances. Or if there were even similar circumstances to face at all. Selected as one of the first to make a visit to the duplicate Earth she sets out to find out how unique we actually are in the world.

The Posters

The one poster shows that this is Marling’s movie as it’s just her standing there in front of the ocean and the beautiful blue sky which has both the moon and a very large planet in the background. It’s bright and mysterious and while it doesn’t get into the plot almost at all but does make it clear that she’s the main character and that it’s her story that we’re going to be following.

The Trailers

The first trailer for the movie is mysterious, emotional and riveting. We’re quickly introduced to the conceit that a doppleganger of the planet earth has suddenly appeared in the sky. When an official tries to make contact with that planet she finds herself talking to herself, meaning the other planet isn’t just another hospitable orb but actually a duplicate of the earth we all know. A lottery is held to award a few hundred lucky souls a trip to this other world and Rhoda enters it because, as we see later, she’s running away from an incident she’s ashamed of in her past and she, as the narration asks, wants to see if her other self has made the same mistakes she did.

Honestly watching this I was struck by what a wonderfully simple science-fiction premise this was. It presents something outrageous, makes it into something plausible and then explores the character’s reaction to that event. it’s clear in the trailer that this is Marling’s movie as she’s the heart and soul of the film and the eyes through which we’ll see all the questions that are raised asked and maybe even answered.

Online

In addition to the usual Fox Searchlight features such as newsfeeds and social network widgets the movie’s official website has some good content.

At the top of the page there’s a Synopsis that gives you an overview of the film’s story, the Trailer which is absolutely worth re-watching, Cast/Crew credits and career histories and a series of stories that come from actual scientists and others on the theories about Parallel Worlds.

A pretty cool website was created called MeetYourOtherSelf.com that allowed you to communicate with your alternate on the other planet through written messages that were held up to a webcam. So the site took a picture of you, colored it a little differently and then displayed some sort of message back to you. Nice idea and a decent execution.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’ve seen.

Media and Publicity

First appearing at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival the movie picked up a decent amount of buzz, though nothing all that earth-shattering. Writer/director Cahill offered his thoughts (Filmmaker Magazine, 1/24/11) from the filming while the festival was going on and it was only shortly after its public debut that Fox Searchlight picked it up for distribution.

The movie made a later appearance at the Los Angeles Film Festival (Los Angeles Times, 5/3/11) though out of competition.

Later the focus of a few press stories turned to the movie’s production and how Marling and director Mike Cahill on how they went about embracing and integrating the actual science behind parallel world theories (Wired, 7/19/11) and then how this movie plays into the careers of both Cahill and Marling (LAT, 7/21/11).

Overall

This is a pretty cool campaign for a movie that appears to be science fiction in the purest sense of the term. No it’s not about demons and wizards and trolls (which is more fantasy) but about presenting a premise that is based in science and then using that premise to put the characters through their paces. It’s a gentle campaign that plays up the emotional weight felt by the characters, particularly of course Marling’s Rhoda, which appears to be in line with what the movie is actually about. No, it’s not knocking anyone’s socks off but it doesn’t need to since the goal here seems to be more about attracting the arthouse audience than the usual sci-fi crowd.

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