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'Interstellar' shoots for the stars, and broad appeal, in new TV spots

'Interstellar' shoots for the stars, and broad appeal, in new TV spots
TV spots for "Interstellar." (Paramount Pictures)

As Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" prepares to launch on Nov. 7, the marketing campaign for the space drama is ramping up with a series of intriguing TV spots released over the weekend. The clips feature tantalizing new footage, particularly of Matthew McConaughey, and illuminate a bit more about the movie, which in typical Nolan fashion has been shrouded in mystery. They also highlight how much the campaign for a movie from one of the most bankable directors in Hollywood is nonetheless relying on its main actor.

The common thread in the new spots (viewable above) is that they focus on the heroics of leading man McConaughey, who plays a single dad, former pilot and engineer named Cooper. He's been called upon to lead an expedition through a wormhole to find a hospitable new planet for humanity, because Earth is turning into a giant dust bowl. To do so, though, he'll have to leave behind his two children.

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McConaughey has been at the center of "Interstellar's" previous teasers and trailers, but the latest round of clips go quite a bit further in showcasing McConaughey. They position him as a protagonist with some swagger — a hotshot pilot with enough gumption that he just might pull off saving the world. Co-star Michael Caine sets up the stakes: "We need the bravest humans to find us a new home," he says in one ad. In another, he tells McConaughey, "Your daughter's generations will be the last to survive on Earth. You're the best pilot we ever had. Get out there and save them."

Throughout the clips, we see McConaughey running around in a spacesuit, navigating massive waves with his ship and being reminded by his fellow crew (Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley and David Oyelowo) that they'd prefer to arrive in one piece rather than just "get there fast."

McConaughey could prove key in Paramount and Warner Bros.' efforts to hook mainstream movie audiences on what is, after all, a weighty existential sci-fi drama with an expected three-hour runtime. It's telling that this new group of clips emphasizing high-stakes action and heartstring-tugging family drama aired during Sunday Night Football — perhaps the broadest audience out there.

McConaughey's stock is certainly high at the moment after his Oscar win for "Dallas Buyers Club" and his much praised performance on HBO's "True Detective." He's so hot right now that he can make headlines just by starring in a series of Lincoln car commercials.

But for all McConaughey's street cred, it's worth noting that Nolan has been a much bigger box-office draw than his star--in fact, twice as many people saw "Inception" in its opening weekend alone than saw the last three McConaughey vehicles combined.

Of course the two together could be a potent force. McConaughey's pop-cultural stock has peaked at pretty much the exact moment he's working with one of the few directors who could make an original idea a blockbuster one--"Inception" grossed a stunning $825 million around the world. The results of their collaboration could be, well, stellar.

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