I also want to mention something else: It seems most of my favorite things that are doing badly, as well as many of the things I’ve loved in the past that bombed or what have you, did so because their marketing team advertised them as something completely different from what they were. Dollhouse is not a sexy show about hot chicks. It is Blade Runner meets Total Recall in the rain, fuck, and then find out they have the same father. Jennifer’s Body is not Megan Fox becomes a sexy succubus who steals boys’ hearts, literally, a-hyuck! It’s Mean Girls only the head bitch kills and eats the boys you like instead of fucking them. Here’s a list of things mishandled in their advertising campaigns:
Donnie Darko: This is all about the back of Donnie Darko‘s DVD case, the only thing I would have had to go on if it weren’t for word of mouth and the fact that it was on in the Tower Records where I bought it. And I quote: “In the tradition of STIR OF ECHOES and FINAL DESTINATION…This ‘excitingly original’ (Entertainment Weekly) nail-biter will keep you on the edge of your seat until the mind-bending climax.” Um…what?
Firefly: Many blame the show’s night. You can blame the episode order being fucked with. Not airing the original pilot until last. Not airing two of the best episodes. Really, I blame idiotic marketing plus network interference. You can decide the original pilot isn’t what you want to air, but come on — after you’ve already advertised said pilot? Everyone tunes in, expecting the scenes in the commercials you ran, and then thinks they missed an episode? I nearly vomited I was so upset at myself, then it turned out Fox are just a bunch of dicks that eat mouths for breakfast so they can shit assholes. No, I don’t know what that means, so don’t ask. They would also make a similar mistake later, with Joss’s Dollhouse. Why do they hate you, Joss?
Hudson Hawk: After the success of Die Hard, studios were looking to cash in on Bruce Willis’s action cred. Unfortunately, his most recent foray was more Moonlighting meets AWESOME. This did not stop the ad people from trying to trick us into thinking it was a new action movie with Bruce being snarky. But when you lie, all you get is a lot of bad word of mouth. We walk in expecting shoot ’em up, and get Charlie Chaplin. I mean, come on.
The Big Hit: Once again, Columbia/Tri-Star drops the ball, advertising a comedy that happens to have action in it as an action movie that happens to have comedy in it, trying to bank on John Woo’s name being attached to the film. Draw the wrong crowd in, get the wrong reaction. Christ, these people are amateur:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Movie: Joss has been the victim of badvertising since day one, although this is more a pre-marketing decision. Really, any of his projects in anyone else’s hands become broad, insensitive drivel. A bunch of Hollywood assholes with four available fingers and three real emotions in their range trying to tackle dry wit mixed with action and horror elements and feminist/humanist angles? Cripes, no wonder they can’t ever get them to say the lines right.
Jennifer’s Body: How Diablo Cody came up with the idea: “I was just sitting at home in Minnesota — this was a couple years ago — thinking, “What would actually scare me, what would frighten me?” And all I could think of were girls. Teenage boys are pretty harmless. Teenage women are terrifying. They can be really frightening, really ruthless, and irrational and evil. It’s a territory that’s been mined before in Heathers and Mean Girls; this is certainly not a new idea, but I just wanted to take it to another level.” …But they advertise it like any of the other stupid teen horror flicks they have on the docket, and amp up the Megan Fox angle, as well as Diablo’s angle, but toning down the actual plot of the movie and aiming it at guys. Dumb, especially since girls make up 80% of the horror movie audience.
Zack & Miri Make a Porno: The main thing that got me into the theater when this movie came out wasn’t the title, wasn’t the premise, wasn’t Seth Rogen, and wasn’t Kevin Smith. It was that Kevin Smith was directing a movie starring Seth Rogen and it had this premise. Each of these things by themselves were starting to wear thin; I could have done with a break from them. All of it together meant a fresh new thing — and the thought of some of my favorite comedic teams working together got me all tingly in my girly parts. But here’s the trailer, let me know if you see anything missing:
Did you blink? Then you may have missed Kevin Smith‘s fucking name. Kevin Smith, one of like five celebrity independent filmmakers from the mid-nineties to now. Smith, who may not be a massive draw, but has a different audience from the Apatow movies. This was the time to crossover those audiences and make the biggest banking Smith film ever, while also excusing Rogen for doing a seventeenth movie that year, because hey, he couldn’t turn down doing a Kevin Smith role. By trying to pass this off as another Apatow-related Rogen picture with an incidental Randal-from-Clerks cameo, anyone who wasn’t keeping up with Smith wouldn’t even notice his name at the end. So now, you’re sitting in the theater saying, “Rogen again? Will these guys just slow down a sec? I mean I loved Virgin and Knocked Up, but that doesn’t mean I want them showing up at my house uninvited and drinking my beer. Oh, hey, good to see Randal getting a job. WTF is Kevin Smith doing? Did he commit seppuku after Jersey Girl or what?”
Dollhouse: Once again, Joss is screwed. Once again, by Fox. Once again, the pilot advertised for a month is not the pilot aired. AND they tried to make a show about identity, slavery, prostitution, Marxism, acting, and the human soul into a show about fast cars, hot chicks, and money. You know, basically proving that Fox Network is the evil Rossum Corporation from the very same show. They also were making Joss Whedon write these fast car hot chick scripts, which is like making Michael Bay and Frank Miller do a movie about a strong woman who is neither a whore nor pretty by Hollywood standards and wears concealing clothing. Heads are bound to explode.