Movie Marketing Madness: The Other Woman

Defining the “traditional family” has never been tougher than it is today. Where 50 or 60 years ago it was pretty standard to say “Husband, wife and one or two kids” now we have all sorts of permutations that are possible. Divorce, remarriage, homosexual lifestyles and more have pushed those who wish to cling to that old-fashioned definition well out of their comfort zone. And that’s not getting in to the emotional difficulties that such redefinition – not just in the abstract but in the very practical sense as it’s happening to them – puts on the people involved, both adults and children.

The Other Woman tells the story of one non-traditional family that’s trying to make the best of some bad situations. Natalie Portman plays Amelia, a young woman who begins working at a law office and meets her boss Jack (Scott Cohen). The two begin an affair despite his being married. The two decide they’re actually in love, though, and so after he divorces his current wife (Lisa Kudrow) they marry and try to start a family of their own. But when the first baby of their own dies suddenly the couple have to adjust and figure out how to deal with the family they have, including Scott’s son from his previous marriage, instead of the one they had dreamed about.

The Posters

I’m honestly not sure what to make of the one poster for the movie. It’s just a side shot of Portman where everything but her face has been given a slightly artistic touch, looking like a watercolor painting or something like that. In the background is a sketch of the New York City skyline, which seeks to give the audience some information about the film’s setting but that’s about it design-wise.

At the top is a blurb from a review of the film that probably came from one of its festival screenings and toward the bottom is the copy “Love makes everything possible” which seems like it’s giving some clues as to the plot but doesn’t really do that. It’s vague enough to make it sound like Portman’s character has some sort of emotional struggle to overcome but that’s about as specific as it could possibly be interpreted.

The Trailers

We start out in the trailer by meeting Amelia and Jack, who apparently start off simply as co-workers but then turn in to something much more despite the fact that he’s married. Soon, though, they’re getting engaged and she’s pregnant. But the ultimate tragedy happens and the baby dies shortly after it’s born.

That leads to a cascade of emotions for everyone as they struggle to overcome that as well as all the other problems their situation brings with it, including Jack’s very angry ex-wife. But the trailer shows that eventually this new family unit finds a way to exist together, at least for the most part.

It’s actually quite a good trailer and is every bit as descriptive of the movie’s story as the poster isn’t. It’s nicely cut and the music works to support the footage and comes off quite well.

Online

Coming from IFC, the official website is sparse and meant to get right to the point. The trailer and Poster are both there, along with a small Photo Gallery, Cast and Crew list and brief Synopsis. So not too much but enough to get the basics about the film across.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’ve seen, unfortunately. I’m a bit surprised there wasn’t some sort of push for the movie in the form of TV spots, but considering there are still commercials running for Portman’s Black Swan as well as the more mainstream No Strings Attached perhaps it was decided this would be a bit much and would get lost in the clutter.

Media and Publicity

The movie debuted (under its original title of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits) at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009 to decidedly mixed review, which is likely why buzz around it went dark until news hit that IFC Films had set a release date and changed its title. The timing of that news was likely in part to build on the positive buzz for Portman’s performance in Black Swan, which hit theaters just shortly before the announcement.

It was only very recently – the end of December – that it was announced IFC would be releasing the movie, giving it an on-demand release (Los Angeles Times, 1/3/11) in advance of sending it to theaters. That on-demand release was also brought up just before the theatrical release as an example of this sort of one-two punch that’s becoming more and more common (LAT, 1/30/11) with smaller titles whose pure theatrical prospects are murky at best.

Overall

For a movie that languished for over a year before getting picked up and then had to wait a bit longer for release, it’s not a bad marketing campaign that’s been created. The poster and trailer both work particularly well in making the case for the movie as an adult drama without a lot showiness to it. Instead it seems to be selling the movie as a pretty straightforward story that promises a couple of solid performances and some genuine emotion in it.

The mixed buzz that came out of its 2009 festival appearances seems to have been put to the side as the publicity and press has instead turned to either how this is one of three Portman movies coming out in recent months as well as to its release pattern, which seem to be canceling some of that bad buzz out, or at least not giving it cause to raise up again. That works in favor of the movie since it then gets to draft off of the momentum of the actress’ other recent movies and then build off the word-of-mouth in its theatrical release from those who have already seen it via on-demand viewing.

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