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Sydney Sweeney orchestrated faux Glen Powell romance to plug ‘Anyone But You.’ And it worked

Nardine Saad – Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Unwritten or totally scripted? Glen Powell applauded his “Anyone But You” co-star Sydney Powell for orchestrating a marketing campaign for the hit rom-com that hinted at an alleged romance between the two leads.

It was straight out of the rom-com marketing days of yore. And it actually worked, thanks to its comely co-stars and a little help — OK, a lot of help — from TikTok. 

Sweeney, an executive producer on the scantily clad, Australia-set adaptation of the Shakespearean comedy “Much Ado About Nothing,” alluded to the dating rumors in the lead-up to Sony Pictures’ December release about two people who love to hate each other. The speculation played out exactly as they intended, the stars told the New York Times, turning the “unwatchable” rom-com and its meager box-office opening into a streaming prize for Netflix, where it landed Wednesday as part of a licensing deal with Sony.

“The two things that you have to sell a rom-com are fun and chemistry. Sydney and I have a ton of fun together, and we have a ton of effortless chemistry,” Powell told the NYT in a story published Wednesday. “That’s people wanting what’s on the screen off the screen, and sometimes you just have to lean into it a bit — and it worked wonderfully. Sydney is very smart.”

Gossip mongers ate up the near-naked photos of the lead actors on set, the co-stars’ flirty interviews and online banter, and their exchanges of intimate looks during promotional appearances.

Sweeney remained (and remains) engaged to Jonathan Davino, who also executive produced the film. However, Powell broke up with longtime girlfriend Gigi Parisamid the speculation, further fueling forbidden-romance interest in the two and their movie.

The two even addressed the speculation in interviews: At one point, the “Top Gun: Maverick” star said that the rumors felt “disorienting and unfair,” while Sweeney said that the conjecture was “really hard” on Powell, whom she cares for very much. As it turns out, Sweeney was directly behind the strategy.

“I was on every call. I was in text group chats. I was probably keeping everybody over at Sony marketing and distribution awake at night because I couldn’t stop with ideas,” the “Euphoria” and “Madame Web” star told the news outlet. “I wanted to make sure that we were actively having a conversation with the audience as we were promoting this film, because at the end of the day, they’re the ones who created the entire narrative.”

With a budget of $25 million, the movie opened to a “disappointing” $8 million box-office take during Christmas weekend, director Will Gluck said. But the film benefited from word-of-mouth and online virality with its “eventize”-ing of Powell’s character’s “serenity song” — 2004’s “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield — and enjoyed a strong run in the succeeding weeks. It ultimately nabbed about $218 million worldwide.

“It was totally an organic thing,” Gluck told the Los Angeles Times in February. “We just started watching all these TikToks of people having fun with the song. And once that song started going, then the box office started increasing. And then the TikToks and the Instagrams started talking about the actual movie. It became something that everyone really wanted to do and not miss out on during the break.”

“It just spiraled into this thing that created a TikTok trend,” Sweeney told the NYT, “and that is truly what built the audience.”

©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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