Beau is Afraid, the latest release from Ari Aster, is being rolled out in a manner that’s set to captivate social media audiences. The film is more comedic than his two previous horror films – Hereditary and Midsommar – and follows the story of Beau (Joaquin Phoenix), a tightly wound ball of anxiety who visits his mother. Along the way, he encounters numerous weird and absurd incidents. The film has the feel of a hodgepodge of various directors, books, plays, and writers that have influenced Ari Aster throughout his lifetime, but it still feels incredibly original.
To launch the film, A24 pulled an elaborate stunt. They announced a surprise screening of the film, tricking moviegoers who believed they were going to view the director’s cut of Midsommar. Following the screening, the audience provided their immediate impressions. This strategy is unconventional, as most reviews come out in the morning or afternoon with an embargo in place, preventing social media users from posting their opinions right away.
The theatrical release for the movie is equally unorthodox. The small, limited showing in New York and California will soon be followed by a public IMAX preview. After that, the movie will get a standard release to cinemas around the country on April 21. By building anticipation and momentum, A24 hopes that word-of-mouth for the film will generate enough buzz to make it a sleeper hit, just like Aster’s Hereditary, which did not gain massive popularity until after it arrived on Netflix.
It remains to be seen whether Beau Is Afraid will garner a dedicated audience or become a massive box-office hit. Nonetheless, the interesting rollout strategy designed by A24 for this strange and unique movie is intriguing, adding a new dimension to the film’s marketing campaign, and it will be fascinating to see if it pays off.
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