Movie Marketing Madness: The Romantics

Whether we like it or not as we get older, there remain a group of friends – sometimes from college, sometimes from high school – that we remain intrinsically linked to, even if we’ve largely fallen out of touch over the ensuing years. But these are the people who we did a lot of our growing up with, probably dated a couple of and who now we hope don’t get it in their heads to scan a bunch of pictures from the days before digital cameras and upload to Facebook. I may or may not be speaking from experience in one or more of these cases.

It’s just such a group of friends that’s at the center of The Romantics. The movie tells the story of a close-knit group of friends…or at least that’s what they used to be. Now they’re more grown and reuniting for the wedding of two of their number. But the group’s past makes things more than a little tricky as one of the women coming back Laura, (Katie Holmes) was in a long-term relationship with the now-groom Tom (Josh Duhamel) but was never that close to his fiance Lila (Anna Paquin). So it’s assured that old feelings of the romantic and adversarial are going to get stirred up with everyone in such close proximity in the days leading up to the nuptials.

The Posters

The design of the poster certainly is calculated to emphasize the conflicts that are going to drive much of the movie’s story. In the top frame we see Duhamel and Holmes looking very intimate and close. Meanwhile at the bottom he’s seen giving Paquin, who looks less than pleased, a kiss on the cheek.

That’s about it for the poster in terms of how much it spills about the movie’s story. The use of such a strong electric purple against the black background makes me think the designers were going for some sort of hip artistic vibe but it comes off looking like a dorm-ready backlight poster more than anything.

The Trailers

Two scenes make up the bulk of what’s shown in the trailer and therefore provide much of the context we have for how this group of friends operates and what sort of problems they’re going to have.

In one everyone is at the rehearsal dinner (one can presume) with toasts being given that do nothing to help what appears to be an awkward situation. After Elijah Wood gives one that questions whether or not the wedding will actually happen and Holmes gives one that’s much nicer we see Paquin storming out of the room, which likely means this happens after much of the emotional turmoil has been brought to light.

In the other, everyone is having a few drinks on the beach during the night and sharing some laughs as they trade stories and eventually shed much of their clothing to go for a late-night swim. This is obviously mean to give us some context into how these people relate to each other.

We also get some idea of why some relationships are strained, including Malin Ackerman’s character asking Holmes’ Laura how long it’s been since she saw the former love of her life. There’s also a scene that Laura and Tom share on the beach that seemingly is the tipping point where things start to go wrong in the drama.

Online

The movie’s official website, unfortunately, brings that graphic treatment I didn’t care for on the poster directly over to the web. On the front page you can Watch the Trailer or visit any of the movie’s social networking outposts.

After entering the site, the first section of content is “About the Film” and it’s there you’ll find a brief Synopsis as well as biographies and filmographies of the Cast and Crew.

The “Photos and Video” section has a huge photo gallery of stills from the movie as well as a handful of behind-the-scenes shots as well as the movie’s trailer.

There’s also a nice “News & Reviews” section on the site that has quite a few links to coverage the movie has received.

The movie’s Facebook page opens with a prompt to check out the book the movie is based on as well as a chance to enter to win a J. Crew shopping spree. Beyond that there’s the usual mix of photos and updates about the cast and crew’s promotional activities, updates that are more or less the same as you’ll see on the Twitter profile.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The only deal in this are that I’m aware of is the promotion with J.Crew that resulted from the cast largely wearing clothing from this retailer in the movie and which resulted in the cast appearing in ads for the brand.

Media and Publicity

Much of the movie’s buzz revolved around either the J.Crew promotional deal or its appearance earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. It was that Sundance debut that called attention to Holmes’ performance, which was called out by the Los Angeles Times (1/27/10) as being something that takes the actress in a vastly different direction than had been hinted at in her earlier career. There were also interviews with the director from the festival (Filmmaker Magazine, 1/27/10) at the same time.

Overall

If the movie is indeed as interesting as some of the festival buzz from earlier this year made it out to be this campaign doesn’t show that off very well. The trailer especially shows a movie that is fairly conventional in how it lays out the conflict between the characters. Everyone hear is acting just as stupidly as we expect them to. So it doesn’t provide a clear indication of why we should see this movie, especially if we’ve skipped other wedding-based indie dramas from the last couple years such as Margot at the Wedding and Rachel Getting Married.

The campaign is alright but the overall lack of that strong selling point is a big gap here. I’m also surprised there wasn’t more of a concerted press campaign to sell Holmes as the lead reason to see the movie. She’s taken more than a few lumps over some of her performances in recent years (including having her Batman Begins role recast for The Dark Knight) and if her turn in this movie is truly as interesting and revelatory as it’s been made out to be that should have been hammered home time and time again.

It’s Sandberg’s time

Agree completely with Phil Rogers in today’s Chicago Tribune: Ryne Sandberg deserves to get the managerial job with the Cubs next season. Ryno was one of the best second basemen of of all time – perhaps the best – and more than that proved himself a true team leader, someone who kept his head and absolute left everything on the field every time he jogged out there. I think his quiet, example-based leadership would be just about right for juggling a staff that is going to be a mix of young upstarts (many of whom were plucked from the Iowa Cubs he himself was managing) and contracted veterans with a couple years left who have been under-performing recently.

Give him the job. It’s the right choice, not just the sentimental and nostalgic one.