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Screengrab: The White House

You're an older New Yorker trying to bond with a culture-obsessed young gun who's less than half your age. There's a language barrier. You're tall; he's squat. You've had words in the past. Everyone's watching to see how you'll pull this off. This is the first time you've met, and you don't have much time. Everything about this could be awkward. Why not a movie?

What happened: President Trump's wooing of Kim Jong-un at the Singapore summit included the iPad showing (in English and Korean) of a "Destiny Pictures" movie trailer, made by the White House's National Security Council, starring themselves saving the world.

  • There are dunked basketballs, exploding bombs, flourishing labs and cities — all designed to show Kim what's possible if he engages with the West, and to warn him darkly of the alternative.
  • From the voiceover: "Only the very few will make decisions or take actions that renew their homeland and change the course of history ... Two men. Two leaders. One destiny. ... A story about a special moment in time when a man is presented with one chance that may never be repeated. What will he choose?"
  • From Trump's presser: "I showed it to him ... toward the end of the meeting. And I think he loved it. ... [W]e had it on a cassette ... an iPad.  ... [A]bout eight of their representatives were watching it, and I thought they were fascinated."

Jonathan Swan's sources help illuminate Trump's thinking:

  • Trump thinks of his presidency in cinematic terms — with himself as star, producer, director, writer and critic. Now, backed by the resources of the United States government, he's a studio, too.
  • The president is very aware of his celebrity and how people view him.
  • Kim is a young tyrant obsessed with pop culture.
  • So by literally casting the two of them in a movie, Trump's was celebritizing the summit, and aiming at Kim's sweet spot.

The White House is very proud of the video: Vice President Pence showed it at yesterday's weekly Senate Republican luncheon.

  • Garrett Marquis, National Security Council spokesman: "The video was created by the NSC to help the President demonstrate the benefits of complete denuclearization, and a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula."

Be smart ... A well-wired Republican tells me: "This is the return of the 70s/80s 'buddy movie' — but one of the buddies is a murderous dictator. The real question is: Will the audience applaud the 'hero' for trying?"

  • P.S. In the "Trump Cards" chapter of Trump's book, "The Art of the Deal," he lists 11 elements of a successful deal, ending with: "Have fun ... If you ask me exactly what the deals ... all add up to in the end, I'm not sure I have a very good answer. Except that I've had a very good time making them."

Go deeper: See the video.

Get more stories like this by signing up for our weekly political lookahead newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek. 

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Go deeper

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

2 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."

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