How Behind The Scenes Drama Benefited Don’t Worry Darling's Marketing


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There’s No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

We’ve all heard the phrase, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” right? But is that actually true? Well, according to the entertainment news circuit, we are being given an impromptu free case study on this very subject, thanks to all the salacious gossip surrounding the Don’t Worry Darling set.

The psychological thriller has been the talk of the town for the past month, with rumors flying left and right, leading to high interest from the public. In this blog, Hollywood Branded dives deep into how the alleged scandals from the set of Don’t Worry Darling turned the film into a trending topic.

How Behind The Scenes Drama Benefited Don’t Worry Darlings Marketing

Don't Worry Darling Synopsis

If you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of the film or its drama, here is a short synopsis. The mind-bending thriller, directed by Oliva Wilde, stars the talented Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, Nick Kroll, Gemma Chan, and Harry Styles. Set in the 1950s, a young couple (Pugh & Styles) move to Victory, an idealized, seemingly perfect company town in which the men work on a top-secret project while the women get to enjoy the luxury of the community. However, when cracks in her so-called perfect life begin to appear, Pugh’s character Alice becomes consumed with uncovering the true nature of the “Victory Project.”

The film was released last week, September 23, receiving mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike. According to some critics, the screenplay, direction, and Harry Styles’ performance (sorry, Styles fans) are not up to par, while the production design is phenomenal. One thing everyone is agreeing upon is that Florence Pugh nailed this role, and it may be her best to date. Not too shabby, if you ask me. Check out the trailer below!

Okay...Maybe It's Time To Worry Darling

Don't Worry Darling, on paper, is a marketer's and publicist's dream. It has an intriguing storyline, the cinematography is gorgeous, and it's chock full of A-list stars. So, what's the problem? Well, what was once only an anticipated, star-studded film has now become all about the behind-the-scenes drama. And there's a lot of drama. So much so that it's almost hard to list it all. Luckily posted a full breakdown of the scandals—thanks, Mehera Bonner! Here are the highlights:

July 21, 2022 - Lack of promotion from Florence

Fans speculate that there may have been some tension on set when Florence Pugh posts about her upcoming 2023 film Oppenheimer and not Don't Worry Darling on the same day Oliva Wilde starts heavy promotion for the film. 

July 30, 2022 - Source Leak

An unnamed source tells Page Six that Florence was less than pleased with Harry Styles & Oliva Wilde's relationship. They are quoted saying, "I can tell you for a fact that Flo seeing Olivia and Harry all over each other on set did not go down well as Olivia was still with Jason [Sudeikis] when she first hooked up with Harry.”

Florence's displeasure could have been due to her friendship with Sudeikis, as her then-boyfriend, Zach Braff, had a close relationship with the actor. Of course, these accounts are all alleged, and there is no concrete evidence of any of this. 

August 16, 2022 - Harper's Bazar Interview

Florence is quoted in an interview with Harper's Bazar discussing her displeasure that that Don't Worry Darling is being "reduced" to its sex scenes. She says, “When it’s reduced to your sex scenes, or to watch the most famous man in the world go down on someone, it’s not why we do it. It’s not why I’m in this industry. Obviously, the nature of hiring the most famous pop star in the world, you’re going to have conversations like that. That’s just not what I’m going to be discussing because [this movie is] bigger and better than that. And the people who made it are bigger and better than that.” 

This sentiment is the direct opposite of what Olivia Wilde told Vogue back in December 2021, stating, “I kept saying, ‘Why isn’t there any good sex in film anymore?’” She goes on to explain that female "hunger" and pleasure is rarely seen on screen. 

Fans quickly noted the difference between the two quotes. 

August 2022 - The Breakdown

August was a significant month in the Don't Worry Darling drama reveals. First, Shia LaBeouf, who was originally cast in the project but left early on, accuses Oliva Wilde of lying about his departure. Oliva claimed that she let Shia go for safety reasons. But Shia has the receipts. He sent Variety his and Wilde's correspondence in which he quit the project on his own accord and has video evidence of Oliva asking for them to work things out. 

Later that month, Florence Pugh is reported to be limiting her press for Don't Worry Darling to just one appearance to the 2022 Venice Film Festival premiere. Another source claimed this is due to Florance and Oliva having several disagreements "personally and professionally." Again, these disagreements are all alleged. 

September 5, 2022 - The 2022 Venice Film Festival

Oh boy! What an event. Buckle up because A LOT went down. First, Florence skips the press event for the film (although her film states it was due to a flight issue). Oliva is asked about all the rumors, and she addresses the "feud" for the first time, saying, "As for all the endless tabloid gossip and all the noise out there, the internet feeds itself. I don’t feel the need to contribute; I think it’s sufficiently well-nourished.”

Despite not attending the press event, Florence did walk the red carpet and posed for some drama-free photos. 

Don't Worry Darling Cast Photo At Venice

Photo Credit: Stephane Cardinale | Getty Images

But the night doesn't end there! During the 4-minute standing ovation, Florance appears to dodge Oliva's gaze, and Twitter has a meltdown when a video makes its rounds in which it looks like Harry Styles SPITS on Chris Pine as he takes his seat next to him. 

Pine's representatives firmly deny that Styles spit on him, and later, Harry jokingly tells concertgoers, "I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine.” 

There's even more alleged drama from this event, but it's time to move on to...

September 2022 - Premiere Month

While cinematographer Matthew Libatique claims he never heard or saw any drama on set, another source claimed that Oliva and Harry would routinely disappear on set, leaving Florence to pick up the pieces. Allegedly Florence had enough, and a screaming match occurred. Of course, social media latched on to this rumor, and the film was trending again. Later 40 crew members sign an exclusive statement disputing this rumor. 

On the day of the release of the film, Florance (finally) posted a lovely sentiment about her experience on set while avoiding addressing any of the gossip. 

All Press Is Good Press?

Like a business, films need to create media campaigns to publicize their arrival and get as many people as they can to the theater. Campaigns are carefully planned, and press releases & messaging points are carefully crafted to ensure optimal ROI. However, as we all know, the press isn't always favorable, and unlike the quote, there are dangers of bad publicity. Imagine spending a huge chunk of money on promoting the film only for its impact to be diminished thanks to the bad publicity surrounding the director. Such is the case for Don't Worry DarlingIt seems like many have changed their views on Oliva Wilde, and it may impact her future as a director in Hollywood. 

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Benefits of the Drama

As Oscar Wilde (not to be confused with Oliva Wilde) once said, "There’s only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” So true, bestie.

Despite the negativity, there seems to have been an upside to the scandalous publicity. All the drama led to MASSIVE discussion on social media—primarily Twitter and TikTok—and the film trended worldwide multiple times prior to its release. The drama and its surrounding discussion ended up translating to box office dollars as a lot of moviegoers showed up to see what all the fuss was about. The film quickly rose to #1 at the box office and debuted with $19.2 million in ticket sales its opening weekend. 

Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for data firm Comscore, said that, ultimately, bad publicity was good publicity for the film, stating, “The latest from Olivia Wilde benefited from the heightened awareness and mainstream press coverage that made Don’t Worry Darling the virtual water cooler film of the moment and raised its FOMO factor to even greater heights and this paid big dividends at the box office."

Don't Worry Darlings, There's More!

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