Movie Marketing Madness: Gifted

Frank (Chris Evans) is a reluctant, unexpected single dad in the new movie Gifted. When his sister passed away he agreed to take in and raise his niece Mary (Mckenna Grace), a precocious seven year old. Mary is gifted, doing college-level work in a number of subjects but before she passed Frank promised his sister that he would raise her as a normal kid, not as some sort of prodigy.

While Frank has support in that mission from landlady Roberta (Octavia Spencer) and others, things get complicated when his mother (Lindsay Duncan) shows up. She’s determined to get Mary into a think-tank or other institution where she can exercise her full potential. While everyone, including her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate), says they want what’s best for Mary, what that looks like is very different from one person to the next.

The Posters

Evans and Grace are featured on the one and only poster, the latter staring adoringly at the former, who’s looking somewhere off into the distance. It’s an interesting choice to have Evans’ face slightly blurred as he’s closer to the camera, showing that while he’s important to the story, it’s Grace who we’ll actually be emotionally invested in. The cast list is above the title and aside from the credit block and the reference to the movie coming “From the director of (500) Days of Summer” there’s no additional text to explain to the audience what they’re getting into.

The Trailers

We meet Frank and his niece Mary in the first trailer while they’re at home, but the story starts when we see her starting at school, where she shows up the teacher and gets on people’s radar as a potentially gifted young girl. Frank has promised not to treat her as anything other than a normal child, but Frank’s mother disagrees and she sues for custody to help her live up to what’s seen as her potential. The rest of the trailer is about that conflict, as Frank tries to live up to the wishes of his sister and the grandmother tries do what she’s decided is best, even if it conflicts with that.

It’s quite a good trailer, showing off the emotional nature of the story and how it will be a feel-good movie about the importance of family and an unencumbered childhood. What stands out most for me, though, is Evan’s performance and how he continues to make really interesting choices when he’s not suiting up as Captain America. He and Grace are fun to watch together as they try to play a natural yet strained relationship.

Online and Social

There’s a nice, understated tone to the movie’s official website. The front page just has a nice image of Evans and Grace alongside prompts to watch the trailer or get tickets.

The first section in the content menu along the top of the page is “Cast,” which has the names of the major players in front of the camera that takes you to a picture of them from the movie along with a quote about what it means to them. “Filmmakers” is the same thing, but just for director Marc Webb.

“Story” has a brief synopsis of the movie’s story. There are a few stills in “Photos” and “Videos” just has the trailer. “Partners” has information on the companies who are helping to promote the movie. At the bottom of the page are links to Fox Searchlight’s social profiles as there are no specific pages for the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this one played up the emotions of the movie, showing it’s a story about a guy who’s not all that smart trying to raise a girl who is and the struggles that entails. It’s charming and low-key and shows Evans is giving a solid performance here.

Promotional partners for the movie include:

  • The state of Georgia, which is where the movie was filmed
  • Kellogg’s Family Rewards, which offers you the chance to enter to win a $5,000 scholarship
  • Best Friends, which is helping to promote cat adoption or sponsorship
  • Rosetta Stone, which offered a discounted two-year subscription to its language software
  • Girl Scouts, which is just about promoting the organization and highlighting troop leaders

Media and Publicity

A huge profile of Evans formed the core of the publicity campaign. In it he talked about this movie as well as, of course, his role in the Marvel movies, his thoughts on politics and lots more.

There was also a big profile of Slate, but that one wound up being only tangentially about the movie and wound up focusing more on her relationship with Evans, which started on-set. It shows how the focus is different for male and female stars in that the relationship, which ended, wasn’t the primary theme of interviews with him.

Both Evans and Slate also did various other press work, including appearing on some of the late night talk shows, comments at the premiere and so on.

Overall

This is a completely charming campaign that offers an openly-emotional experience for the audience. The point here is to show off how Evans isn’t just Captain America but is a well-rounded actor and it does that well. Grace is also, obviously, a big part of the push as she’s the one whose life everyone has an opinion on and stake in shaping. The relationship between those two on-screen is what the studio hopes will bring people out and so that’s what forms the crux of the marketing.

More than anything, there’s a gentleness to the campaign that presents the movie as a low-key alternative to the brash animated kids movies or big-budget remakes/reboots. Everything is presented here in soft light and with gentle fonts and soothing music, selling the movie as a palate cleanser for audiences who might be burnt out by seeing the same five things every time they go to the theaters. That’s the crux of the campaign’s appeal.

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