My most anticipated movie of the Holiday Oscar Season is David O’Russell’s “The Silver Linings Playbook.” The director wowed me with “The Fighter” and how he made an unconventional family movie that not only centered on boxing, but was about wounded souls and failed relationships. ‘Silver Linings’ stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Chris Tucker, Jackie Weaver, and Julia Stiles. This is set to be the word of mouth, crowd pleaser which will do well among movie savvy adults. The movie won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Recent past winners of the award include “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Kings Speech” placing it in the Oscar race.
I anticipate Harvey Weinstein, the master of film publicity, will successfully sell this movie to general audiences. He is one of the most calculated decision makers working in the Entertainment Industry. Under Miramax, Dimension, and now The Weinstein Company, he is able to directly sell or sink a movie with how much support he puts behind it. Most films distributed by TWC receive a limited and platform release. “The Silver Linings Playbook” is receiving a wide release on a major Holiday Weekend (Thanksgiving). Due to solid word of mouth screenings, Weinstein Company made a last minute change to open Silver Linings in ten major movie markets five days early.
With ‘Silver Linings,’ Mr. Weinstein is putting in all his Oscar cards into one basket. For it to be a hit, Harvey has to sell the movie to different demos. Lets take a look at how he does this with both trailers:
This sets up the movie as a more dialogue driven relational one. We are introduced to Cooper and Lawrence struggle through their issues with mental illness. You see their witty banter and witness the serious subject matter of mental illness and depression. This trailer is centered on a blooming, complicated relationship with wounded hearts. One colleague mentioned to me while watching this trailer he was interested in seeing ‘Silver Linings’ until it “looks like a Dancing with the Stars movie.” With the center stage, cheering family, and flashing lights, it does resemble the reality TV show. This poses a marketing challenge toward men so we have this trailer…
This is a drastic change from the marketing of the first trailer. This trailer immediately captures your attention when Bradley Cooper throws a book out of a window. With the drastic quick cuts, flashing words on screen, a close up of Jennifer Lawrence’s cleavage, its targeted toward younger men. Heck, there’s even the “Hey Ho” song by the Lumineers. When Cooper catches his wife cheating on him, is arrested by the police, and being involved in a fist fight while tailgating at the Philadelphia Eagles game is more “manly” then dancing. When Cooper’s buddy tells him “don’t let [her] get you in trouble” is a more sympathetic toward the male perspective, a loyal buddy’s advice. And there’s little dancing in this trailer?
What we have here is the selling of two different movies. One trailer focuses on a relational aspect appealing to older woman. The second trailer almost says, “This serious romantic comedy is safe for men.” Imagine putting a 30 second TV spot similar to trailer 2 airing during NFL Football on Thanksgiving Day. What ever the box office prediction for this is, it has potential to over perform. Selling a movie to various different demos can work. This is the sort of marketing the industry should embrace more instead of big tent strategies. During Election Seasons, campaigning Presidential candidates sell different issues to various diverse coalitions of voters (The Housing Market in Nevada, The Auto Bailout in Ohio, and Defense Cuts in Virginia, Spanish language ads in Colorado, etc.). This is how a 21st Century Political Campaign sells a candidate to all audiences. The industry should take note of The Weinstein Company’s strategy and follow suit with selling more of their movies like he did with “The Silver Linings Playbook.”