CBS Films is Doing ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ a Disservice with Their Marketing


Inside Llewyn Davis clip
Justin Timberlake and Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis

Photo: CBS Films

My favorite films this year aren’t exactly lighting up the box office. Before Midnight managed $11.1 million worldwide and All is Lost has managed $4.9 million so far. I thought 12 Years a Slave was great and so far its the best performer out of the five “A+” reviews I’ve given this year as it has already crossed $30 million.

However, two more of my favs are on the horizon, one being Spike Jonze‘s Her (WB; 12/18), which I just reviewed yesterday (read that here), and the other being Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS; 12/6) and both WB and CBS are going to have a hell of a time getting general audiences into seats, but CBS is doing all they can to try and sell Llewyn to the masses, problem is they are spoiling the whole thing.

Just released today is the following clip of title star Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver singing “Please Mr. Kennedy”, one of the film’s signature moments and something I would never have wanted to see or heard before experiencing it within the film’s narrative.

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Then there is this clip, featuring John Goodman spoiling one of the film’s major reveals, a reveal that has also been spoiled in all of the film’s trailers I’ve seen.

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And then we get to this clip, which is an even better reason to watch none of them. This doesn’t spoil a plot point per se, but it spoils character, which is what Inside Llewyn Davis is all about. This film doesn’t follow a traditional narrative, it plops you in on the struggles of Davis’ life and they are meant to be experienced in real time, not with prior knowledge or understanding. It’s the journey that matters in this case.

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However, I understand CBS’s dilemma. How do they get mainstream audiences into the theaters if they don’t offer them the goods to chew on in advance? It’s just too bad the promise of a new, much-loved film from the Coen brothers isn’t enough, but, I understand.

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Weekend: May. 23, 2019, May. 26, 2019

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