Movie Marketing Madness: Submarine

We’re all just a collection of our various learned and inherited quirks, aren’t we? We react this way or that to whatever situation we find ourselves in based on how we’ve been taught through one means or another to react. Sometimes that’s in what are deemed socially acceptable ways and other times it’s not so much that. 

Nowhere do those quirks come to the forefront, particularly for guys, as when we’re dealing members of the opposite sex. The pressures put on us when a girl is in the room are extraordinary and so we wind up dropping silverware, tripping over our own two feet and otherwise making an ass out of ourselves. The good news is that this only lasts from age 10 to I’ll Let You Know When Even.

The quirks of one particular romance are explored in the new British film Submarine. Teenager Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is trying to explore the ways of love with his classmate Jordana (Yasmine Page) but he is so genuinely odd that it’s a bit difficult. Part of his odd nature comes from what he perceives to be the demise of his parent’s (Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins) marriage. So with a mix of insecurities, misinformation, ego and charisma Oliver sets out to woo Jordana in the best way he can.

The Posters

The movie’s poster shows Graham half underwater, a wide eyed, bewildered look on his face. There’s not much to it but it’s clear that we’re watching his story of discovery in the movie. A slightly revised version was released later on that added critic quotes but other than that it’s essentially the same image.

The Trailers

The first trailer, which debuted just after it showed up at Sundance, introduces us to Oliver as a very strange young man who likes to pretend he’s being filmed as he goes about his life. We see lots of his flirtation with Jordana but there’s also lots about his parents and what their story is going to be, both on their own and in their interactions with him. The trailer has all sorts of fast, unique cuts that build to a crescendo with the French music that plays in the background and it comes off as really interesting and funny.

In the second trailer, which is much more straightforward, we meet Oliver as he’s searching for some idea of who he is or who he’s supposed to be. He’s tried a number of quirks and such on for size but none have stuck. Then he meets Jordana and the two begin an offbeat and unusual romance, including his clumsy and preposterous attempts to seduce her, something that seems to be largely what he thinks he’s expected to do. It’s clear in the trailer that there’s the prerequisite period where everything goes somewhat south for the couple but hope is presented at the end that they work things out because their own version of love is just too strong and unique to not exist. It’s funny and amusing and works quite well.


There’s not much on the official site. The trailer is there and you can click links to some reviews of the movie on outside sites, visit the studio’s Facebook page and read about the source book but that’s about it.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’ve seen.

Media and Publicity

The movie premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where it picked up some good word of mouth for director Ayoade and for Roberts’ performance in the lead role. That was followed by reports that after the Weinstein Co.’s purchase of the movie it was undergoing some serious recutting at the hands of Harvey Weinstein himself, who was apparently concerned the movie didn’t play as well for general audiences as it did for the festival crowd.


There’s not much too this campaign so the overall effectiveness is going to be judged by the two components of its Sundance appearance and the trailer that was released. By those measures it’s a pretty good effort, getting people talking at the film festival and then working that general awareness into something more with the trailer. It certainly seems to have a unique rhythm, which as a movie is its greatest asset in terms of finding an appreciative audience. I wish there had been a bit more marketing work done but instead this seems like one of those movies that’s picked up after festival buzz and then unloaded into theaters on a wing and a prayer.

Can 3D really be marketed more?

I’m confused by the following statement in the Hollywood Reporter’s piece on how a smaller percentage of ticket sales for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides came from 3D screens:

Some say Pirates is nothing short of a wake-up call and that the appetite for 3D is waning in the U.S. because of the extra cost of a 3D ticket. But others insist that’s not the case. One point everyone agrees on — more and more, companies must market the 3D aspect when plugging a movie.

Its that last part that particularly sticks out for me. I’m not sure there’s more that Hollywood studios can do to include 3D presentation on posters, in trailers and across the rest of the campaign. Indeed sometimes it seems the emphasis is so strong on pushing people to see it in 3D that I feel the caveat “Also available in 2D presentation” needs to be added to materials. There’s such a strong appeal made to go to 3D screens – something that’s outsized compared to the number of screens actually available – that audiences are more than likely just becoming immune to it. The experimentation phase is over (it started around fall of 2010) and people are balking at the higher ticket prices, saving the 3D experience for something where it might truly matter.

Part of this is the fact that, since Avatar, we haven’t seen another movie that was specifically made for 3D, at least not to the extent that that film was. So we’re in a period of post-production conversions and movies that may have been shot in 3D but where the extra dimension doesn’t add much to the overall experience.

Anyone who didn’t think 3D was going to be a quickly-fading fad was kind of fooling themselves to begin with. But as home video continues to decline everyone really wanted to see it as the savior of the movie industry, something it had very little chance of ever being in the long term.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Hangover Part II

We all, I would imagine, have that one night. The one where things were running on all eight cylinders with your friends, refreshments (of whatever sort) seemed to magically replenish themselves, you were the funniest and most charming you’ve ever been and everything just went incredibly right. For most people this happened at some point in college and, despite the feeling the next morning that everything went absolutely right, there were major gaps in everyone’s recollection about what exactly transpired. The attempts to piece together where everything went right (or wrong) may ore may not have taken place on a fishing trawler headed to Nova Scotia.

In The Hangover two years ago, director Todd Phillips took audiences into just such a night for a group of friends. More specifically he took us into the events of the day after the friends tore up Las Vegas while celebrating the impending nuptials of one of their group, who was missing in action and who they needed to find before he was supposed to get married.

The Hangover Part II is, then, operating on familiar territory. Once again we are at the scene of a wedding, only this time in Thailand and not Vegas. And once again the group of guys go out for a low key celebration and wind up completely hammered and trying to connect the dots of the various clues as to what happened during the previous night’s debauchery. And instead of trying to find the groom they’re trying to find the younger brother of the bride, who tagged along and is now nowhere to be found. 

The Posters

The first poster was all about making sure the audience realized we were going back to very familiar ground. So it just shows the three main characters – and a monkey – obviously recovering after a night of hard living. The copy at the top promises “The Wolfpack is back” while the bottom lets us know the setting has changed by intoning that “Bangkok has them now.” It’s alright and certainly is consistent color-wise with the look and feel of the campaign for the first movie so it’s hearkening back to that first installment in a number of ways.

Much like the first movie a set of character posters was created and released that featured a different quote for each person/animal. Each one also guaranteed again that the Wolfpack was indeed back and so on.

The Trailers

The first teaser trailer doesn’t give the audience a whole lot of information. As the camera slowly pans over the scene of the previous night’s debauchery a series of critics quotes from the first movie are shown. We finally see the three guys walking down a foreign market street. The only dialogue we get is from Galifianakis, who remarks that it’s nice that they’re all back together again.

The full-length trailer that followed continued to make it clear that we’re on familiar territory with this sequel. We’re in Thailand (hilariously misprounounced by Galifianakis) for Stu’s wedding and his bride to be encourages the guys to take her little brother out for what’s planned to be a subdued night out. But once again the gang wakes up with no idea what has transpired the night before and with someone – this time Teddy, the little brother – the one who’s missing. So they set out to first figure out where they are and what happened. Once again they conveniently run in to Chow, who seems to be helping them but is really just a loose cannon. There are plenty of laughs here but mostly this is about selling the audience on a return to these characters and on that front it works pretty well.


The movie’s official website begins by playing the trailer as full screen video but you can skip and close that. After that the first section is “About the Film” which has Cast and Filmmaker bios as well as a Story synopsis and Production Notes you can download and read if you so choose.
“Videos” has both of the Trailers and “Photos” has just over two dozen stills from the movie that you can view in full screen mode. You can grab Posters, Icons and Wallpapers in the “Downloads” section.

A list of sites that participated in giveaways and movie-related contests can be found in “Sweepstakes” while the companies that had some sort of tie-in promotion are in “Partners.”

Finally “Soundtrack” lets you sample some tracks from the movie’s soundtrack and “Crouching Monkey, Hidden Chow” is some sort of game that you have to verify your age using Facebook Connect to play so I didn’t do so.

The movie’s Facebook page pretty much just has the usual array of photos, videos, prompts to visit features on the main site and updates about new material as it’s released.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A number of TV spots began running in late April that largely played up the audience’s affiliation with the first movie and made it clear we’re watching the same group of people get involved in a situation similar to what happened in that earlier film only in a new location. They’re all pretty funny but don’t go out any much of any new ground, though to be fair they probably don’t need to. Further spots would continue to hit the “it happened again” theme but also be, for whatever reason, much funnier in their own right and show off the movie as its own thing and not just a bit of deja vu.

In what seems to me an extremely odd promotion, there was a game utilizing location-based service SCVNGR that was run with convenience chain 7-Eleven. Stores hosted a mobile scavenger hunt that encouraged people to take pictures with Big Gulps and so on. Those Big Gulp cups featured the faces of the cast. It’s odd to me because 1) It’s not a toy- or comic-based franchise picture and 2) Because it’s an R-rated movie. On that last point I have to wonder if this even comes close to passing the requirement that most of the audience that’s going to see the ads and promotions are going to be of an appropriate age.

Other promotional partners included Last Round hangover support supplement, Singha Beer and t-shirt maker Ike Behar.

Media and Publicity 

Aside from updates about location and such the first real big piece of news took the form of rumors that the movie could possibly be the first stop on Mel Gibson’s rehabilitation tour, with the actor said to be making a cameo as a Thai tattoo artist. Whatever good that news might have done was soon undone by reports (Los Angeles Times, 10/21/10) that while the director and other executives others that were involved – presumably the cast – had shot the idea down. Gibson was quickly replaced Liam Neeson at the behest of Cooper, but he was eventually replaced when he wasn’t available for reshoots (THR, 4/10/11)

Leaks of various shots both official and behind-the-scenes continued and sort of culminated in an “Entertainment Tonight” interview with the cast where they talked about the different tones between this and the first movie.

There was a small presence for the movie at 2011 CinemaCon, with the trailer debuting for the attendees there.

The first full length trailer became the subject of more stories when it was reported (LAT, 4/6/11) that it was being pulled from theaters because it had not been “properly vetted” by the studio before it was sent out. Much of the outrage seemed to be in relation to a simulated sex act performed by a monkey as well as the fact that this hard-R trailer was playing in front of the PG-13 thriller Source Code. It’s hard not to think this was all calculated by the studio to hype up a trailer that basically played like the spot for the first movie, just with a Find/Replace command run on references to the setting.

Phillips and his predilection for pushing boundaries became the focus of some press (LAT, 5/1/11) where the director talked about how he knows when to pull back with the raunchiness he has a tendency to put on screen. Further press also focused on the outrageous antics in the movie (Entertainment Weekly, 5/12/11) and how the cast and crew tried to ramp up the funny in this sequel.

Galifianakis was the subject of some solo press as well, being interviewed at length about how he might actually detest his audience (Time, 5/19/11) or, alternatively, is never dropping character in some sort of career-long performance art piece.


There are definitely some things to like about this campaign but, as I suspect is the case with the movie itself, they’re mostly the same sort of things that worked about the campaign for the first movie.

No, the marketing doesn’t exactly break any new ground here. In fact it seems to be very calculated about how it steadfastly refuses to try and break any new ground, instead insisting at every opportunity that the film will be an absolute return to the first installment and promising that if you liked the notes that movie it you’ll also enjoy this one. That might be a problem artistically, but from a selling point of view it makes a ton of sense.

Movie Marketing Madness: Kung Fu Panda 2

Once someone embraces their destiny what comes next? Like after they decide to just be the best whatever they can be and stop fighting things what happens the day after that? When it comes to movies the sequel usually covers similar ground, finding some reason to bring the character back to a starting point of some sort so the filmmakers can have the character go through the same process, once again discovering their true path and coming to terms with who they’re meant to be.

Kung Fu Panda 2 seems to be doing just that. In the first movie from a couple years ago Po (Jack Black) finally realized his dream of learning Kung Fu, becoming part of a team and breaking out of the boring life he thought he was living. In this installment Po is still part of the Furious Five but now is told that there’s a threat to Kung Fu itself that only he can confront. This journey to discover who it is that is behind this challenge comes at the same time Po is looking to uncover the secrets of his own past and find his true parents.

The first movie was far better than it had any right to be – refreshingly devoid of the non-stop pop culture references that are usually sprinkled so liberally into Dreamworks’ movies and full of genuinely funny moments – so here’s hoping the sequel follows in that same path.

The Posters

The first teaser poster just features Po coming toward the audience in mid-kick, with the “2” coming out of “skadoosh” so that we all know it’s a sequel. Like the teaser trailer below there’s not a whole lot going on here outside of simply setting up the movie’s existence for the audience. A second teaser was similarly simplistic, just showing Po looking very confused at the camera and picking up the “2” with a set of chopsticks.

A later poster also featured Po on his own, though this time he was standing balanced on the number “2” and looking more like he’s about to kick some kung-fu butt. Same basic visual treatment, though, so it’s continuing to give a consistent look and feel to the campaign. And still another showed him coming down with the Furious Five in full attack mode.

So there doesn’t seem to have been an actual final, theatrical poster for the movie for some reason. Maybe it just didn’t need one here since the audience is more than likely able to make the decision to see the movie or not based on the materials already available – or even just on basic awareness, which these posters more than achieve.

The Trailers

The first teaser trailer has Po sauntering up to the camera as if he’s going to be intimidating and ready for a fight. Then we get a stomach growling joke before he engages the audience in a “kung-fu staring contest.” It’s a simple teaser but serves to alert the audience that there’s a sequel coming and that it’s going to be filled with much of the same humor that was enjoyed in the first movie.

The second trailer gives us more of the story of the movie. It starts out with Po giving a demonstration of his prowess to the anxious onlookers before Shifu comes and tells him a new threat has emerged that he must battle in order to save kung-fu. So he and the rest of the Furious Five travel to confront these new enemies, which he dos in his usual clueless manner that nonetheless will likely let him win because his enemies aren’t expecting to do *THAT*.

Overall it’s a good second trailer but I think it works a little too hard to play up the new threat that Po and the team have to face. It makes the audience very aware that they’re going to be watching a sequel instead of a new and interesting story featuring the same characters. I know it *is* a sequel but the fact that that line 1) made it through the scripting process and 2) is included in the trailer negatively balances out much of the hope I have in this movie. It’s a minor gripe, sure, but it’s enough that it pulled me out of the experience of watching the trailer.


When the official website opens you have the option of watching the trailer or taking any of the other actions that you’re invited to at the bottom of the page. That includes playing some games, watching some videos or visiting and signing up for Kung Fu Panda World, a virtual world that allows you to do all the sorts of things virtual worlds let you do. It looks pretty similar to Webkinz and similar ventures.

The first thing you can do on the site is view profiles of each character that includes not only their biography but also information on their fighting style. You can scroll through all the characters and view whomever you want.

“Videos” has the Jack Black Epicness video (more on that below) as well as the Teaser and Theatrical Trailers and the Super Bowl commercial that aired.

There’s a one-paragraph synopsis of the plot in “Story” and “Downloads has Wallpapers, Create & Print crafts and email Signatures. There are games to play online as well as other stuff to do like  “Games”

Part of the official site also let you connect with Facebook and add your face and those of your friends to a parade of virtual characters that also included the animals in the movie.

The movie’s Facebook page opens with a prompt to enter a sweepstakes and also links to many of the features that are on the official site. Of course there are photos and videos and updates on the Wall about what the cast is doing on the publicity front and what new marketing materials have been released.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV advertising began before 2010 was over, with brief spots that didn’t show much outside of Po and the rest of the Furious Five descending into battle, with Po of course not being quite as on top of it as the others.

The advertising continued with a spot that aired during Super Bowl XLV that was all about showing Po and the rest of the Furious Five in various fights but without any context around them. There’s one or two gags in there about Po’s stomach being his primary motivation in life but there’s nothing about what the movie’s story might be or what the plot is. A later TV spot would take a more comedic tack and mostly show more scenes involving Po’s love of food with only a little hint of the whole “must save kung-fu” plot.

Future commercials would more or less jettison this hook and just sell the comedy of Po and his girth, which is still in stark contrast to his teammates. There’s still very little plot being put on display in these spots but that’s alright since their goal is just to make kids laugh at the big panda and not bore them with a story.

Some pretty epic advertising was done on YouTube (AdAge, 5/12/11). A teaser video showed Black rehearsing the “skadoosh” line eventually leaving and a prompt appearing that promised more if you clicked on it. Once you did an ad unit showing Po came back along with a list of videos that you were encouraged to drag over to Po. Doing that the played that clip, followed by the trailer on a page that also displayed all sorts of other assets. That’s multiple levels of interactivity that couldn’t have come cheap but which garnered a lot of press and some great video viewing numbers.

Sun-Maid raisins put Po and the movie’s title on some of its packaging (MediaPost, 5/6/11) and included a QR code that took people to a mobile site where they could view exclusive content and enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to the Giant Panda Conservation Center in Atlanta along with other secondary prizes. The brand’s Facebook page was also put into service to promote the contest and the movie tie-in in general.

Airheads, General Mills and bottled water company Hint also released co-branded packaging for some of their kids-targeted products. There was even a partnership with tofu maker House Foods America that put the movie’s imagery on packages, an unusual deal that raised some eyebrows.

Hewlett Packard and Intel were partners as well as they always are with Dreamworks movies since those companies power the studio’s technology. And McDonald’s put KFP toys in their Happy Meals.

In addition to the stand-alone Kung Fu Panda World mentioned above there was an integration of the movie into Zynga’s popular CityVille game (AdAge, 5/20/11) that allowed players to insert a movie-themed drive-in theater into their cities and collect points for completing various quests.

Media and Publicity

At the same time the first batch of teaser marketing materials were released it was also announced Po would be participating in the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with the character taking the form of a huge inflatable balloon floating down the street (Washington Post, 11/25/10).

Toward the end of 2010 the studio also sent some swag packages out to various movie sites that declared 2011 to the Year of Awesomeness along with some movie-themed goodies for celebrating New Year’s Eve.

The tie-in toys and other products for the movie were also among those debuting or otherwise making a big show at the annual Toy Fair convention (Hollywood Reporter, 2/10/11).

The producers got out to the press at one point to talk about how the movie’s story would force Po – and presumably then the audience – to deal with some bigger issues (THR 2/27/11)than were presented in the first movie.

The movie was one of a handful that was brought by Paramount to the annual exhibitor trade show CinemaCon (THR, 3/30/11), where Jack Black entertained the crowd in his usual manic manner. The movie would make another industry/promotional appearance when it had an out-of-competition screening (LAT, 4/14/11) at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.


As I said at the outset, the big thing I’m hoping for here is that this movie continues the first one’s ability to dodge “hip” jokes in favor of genuinely heartfelt humor and emotions. The campaign for this one has me hopeful that’s true for this installment as well. The trailers certainly show that to be the case. Once again we’re relying on the charm and humor of Jack Black to carry the day and recently he seems to be doing his best work in the voiceover world so this should be pretty good.

The appeal here to kids is obvious and appropriate and should work to bring in the kids that may be too young for movies like Thor and other superhero adventures. Everything about the movie is so outrageous and filled with epicness that those kids should be really excited for this to hit theaters.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Tree of Life

We often say that people are a product of their environment, that who they are as adults is dependent on where they come from. But often that is limited in meaning to the home they grew up in. What about what influence them? And then the generation before that? And before that? There are things that are shaping who and what we are that go back hundreds, if not thousands of years and each one of us is, ultimately, the end (for the moment) result of millions of small decisions being made by anyone and everyone who’s touched the lives of any of our ancestors.

That seems to be the premise behind the new movie from director Terence Malick, Tree of Life. The movie tells the story of Jack (Sean Penn) who is looking to deal with issues still lingering because of the complicated and dysfunctional relationship he had with his father (Brad Pitt), who was far stricter and much less emotionally available than his mother (Jessica Chastain). But Malick’s brush is broader than just the time between the 1960’s and early 21st century. So the movie also goes back to the beginning of the universe itself and explores many issues that he’s interested in dealing with.

The Posters

The first poster is pretty simple and ties in nicely with the first trailer, both of which were released at the same time. It’s just a shot of an infant’s foot being held in an adult’s hands, as if the latter is examining that footprint and soaking in the preciousness of it. That’s a shot that is taken more or less from the trailer and which demonstrates the beginning point of the “tree” that’s in the film’s title.

The second poster is much more complex, though at the same time design wise it’s very simple. Instead of being just one or even a handful of images, fully 70 images are featured on the one-sheet, which acts as a sort of collection of stills from the throughout the movie. What it seems to be trying to do is showing that the movie’s story takes place over many generations and with some fantastically shot visuals. So we see shots of Penn as an adult, of his character as a child, of Pitt’s character, of the solar system and planets and more. It’s pretty fantastic in how it shows off multiple aspects of the movie at once and while it’s likely to attract people who are looking for complex, brilliantly shot narrative features it’s also just as likely to turn off people who are looking for something much more simple in their movies. Despite being “just” a collection of still images it’s probably one of the more artistically interesting one-sheets I’ve seen recently.

The Trailer

The movie’s first trailer starts out with some definite spiritual leanings, as shots of spinning stars and such play out as the voiceover talks about choosing between the paths or nature or grace. We then follow the young life of a couple boys from birth through the toddler years and into the pre-teens as they grow up. The focal point of that development is in how they relate to their father, played by Pitt. As little kids he’s loving and playful but as they get older he gets harder and more demanding, telling them how hard and tough they have to be in order to survive.

After a trippy kind of transition we see Penn, the grown adult version of one of those boys, who’s still wrestling with the psychological damage done by his father’s attitude. That’s not the end of the flashbacks, though, as the rest of the trailer mixes stunning photography of waterfalls and other natural landscapes with more footage of the children and a couple more shots of Penn.

It’s a stunning and powerful trailer that seems much more grand and sweeping than it’s two-minute running time would suggest. It conveys how Penn’s character is looking for bigger answers to overcome the issues of his childhood clearly while still promising more to come in the film itself.


The first official online presence for the movie was, interestingly, a Tumblr blog called Two Ways Through Life. The site featured more stills from the film that showed off its beautiful photography and acted as a sort of choose-your-own-adventure that let visitors decide which path to follow. It was interesting to see how many reblogs, follows and such each photo received by other Tumblr users and it’s just that sort of tapping into a community that was likely the goal of putting the site there.

The movie’s official website is, despite being from Fox Searchlight, a pretty sparse one. While there’s the usual mix of photos, news about the movie and such like that which Searchlight always puts on their sites there isn’t the other stuff that is often added to the site. The only thing that’s available in that top section is a “Synopsis.”

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A bit of online advertising but that’s about it. Nothing on TV and nothing anywhere else. And this isn’t the kind of movie that lends itself to lots of promotional partners so there’s nothing on that front either.

Media and Publicity

Many gallons of ink were spilled in covering casting and other production details all the way up to the movie’s non-appearance at Cannes 2010, something that was rumored but which never materialized because Malick said the film wasn’t ready. It was ready, though, when a release date was finally announced (Los Angeles Times, 10/22/10), amounting to just about the first official bit of news on the movie since it started.

While there was plenty of buzz about the movie as it went through its protracted production cycle, which included it not being ready for the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, the first real bit of news that showed it was moving toward completion was the announcement Fox Searchlight had picked up distribution rights (Hollywood Reporter, 9/9/10) from River Road.

Another wave picked up when it was announced the first trailer would be debuting in front of the Darren Aronofsky film Black Swan, which likely spoke to a similar audience of cinephiles.

The marketing strategy became the focus of some press (Los Angeles Times, 12/8/10) as the studio outlined the slow leak approach it was taking in releasing information and materials, seeking to create a sustained level of buzz and conversation about this long-anticipated movie as opposed to a few huge spikes and equally deep valleys.

The film’s cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, got some press for comments he made that this movie was unlike any he’d previously worked on (LAT, 1/16/11), comparing the way the movie looks to a symphony and saying it’s so powerful it will trigger memories in the audience in the same way a familiar smell does.

When the time came there was once again speculation (THR, 3/16/11) about it appearing at the 2011 edition of Cannes, something that seemed much more likely considering by this point the marketing for the movie was finally underway. That speculation was later officially confirmed as fact (LAT, 4/14/11).

That appearance included a press conference at which the director did not appear (LAT, 5/16/11), though he did show up later, and a screening that reportedly elicited boos (Entertainment Weekly, 5/16/11) from some of the people in the audience, something later accounts described as being limited to just a handful of people and not part of any sort of mass dissatisfaction among the audience with the movie.

Despite all that – or maybe because it elicited such strong reactions, something art is supposed to do – the movie won the Palme d’Or at the festival, something that might or might not mean positive things for its box-office prospects (Los Angeles Times, 5/23/11)


It’s really difficult to review the campaign without defaulting to words such as “etheral” and “impressionistic” and many such reviews and other early press of the movie have indeed used those terms in abundance. The problem is they certainly do apply here, since the marketing seems to be daring the audience to work through how dense and complex the story of the movie is before they can be interested in seeing it.

For those willing to wage that battle, though, there’s a lot to really enjoy here. The trailer is wonderfully interesting, giving just hints of the story while making it clear the movie’s story will be told more through visuals than through easy-to-digest narrative structures. And the second poster and Tumblr blog have kept people guessing and talking consistently with every new nugget that’s uncovered.

It’s certainly not a campaign that’s going to be drawing in casual fans. But those who are interested in Malick or in more complex movies in general there’s a lot to latch on to here.


  • 05/27/11 – The Los Angeles Times takes a look at just how difficult a sell this movie is to mainstream moviegoers, though I’d point out that any attempt to reach them would be almost futile.
  • 05/29/11 – PRNewser rounds up a bunch of stories under the heading of asking whether this could be this year’s Inception, meaning a movie that has artistic aspirations but mainstream appeal. Considering the reactions coming out of Cannes I seriously doubt this.
  • 06/16/11 – Searchiight took a video of directors Christopher Nolan and David Fincher praising the film and Malick that had been made prior to acquisition and used it to continue its post-release word-of-mouth.

Nice recommendation

That link goes to my Tribeca Future of Film Blog post on how independent filmmakers need to get out there and sell their movies themselves instead of hoping it someone magically finds an audience. Considering the piece was partly inspired by Burns’ work on promoting Nice Guy Johnny I’d say it reached the intended audience, which is nice.

Broken directions

Seems like I should be able to, after looking up directions online ahead of time, have those directions pushed easily to my iPhone’s Maps app, which uses Google Maps. Yeah, this is a #firstworldproblem but I like being able to look things up when I have the time but then want to use my phone when I’m actually driving and need the directions. The alternative is printing them out, which I really don’t want to do.