Random Factoid #411

12 09 2010

Okay, Whiffer, I saw “The American.”  Happy now?  A review should be coming Monday or Tuesday.  I don’t intend to spoil my review with this factoid, but I found an article about the movie that inspired today’s post.  After audiences had little good to say about the movie upon release, The Los Angeles Times dared to ask if moviegoers had fallen victim to a misleading advertising campaign.  Here’s Patrick Goldstein:

I can’t say I was surprised by the moviegoer reaction, since the agonizingly slow-moving film was made by Anton Corbijn, the Dutch filmmaker who was best known for directing such upbeat fare as Metallica videos and “Control,” a dark portrait of Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis, who committed suicide at age 23. Of course, the average moviegoer didn’t do an IMDB search before heading off to see “The American.” They were propelled into theaters by Clooney’s cool-guy image and the film’s slick TV spots, which sold the picture as a taut, “Michael Clayton”-style thriller.

Of course, there’s more action in the film’s trailer than in virtually the entire movie. But when you’re a Hollywood marketer, if you have a lemon, you make lemonade. Focus Features could have taken a more conventional approach, debuting the picture at a film festival and giving it a platform release, hoping that Clooney’s star power and a few good reviews (after all, the film did get a decent 61 score from Rotten Tomatoes) might scare up some business.

But Focus must have realized from its early screenings that “The American” had little crowd-pleasing appeal. It was an art-house movie all the way. So they cooked up a batch of TV spots that made the film look like a snazzy thriller, played them incessantly on programs with older-guy appeal (like baseball games, which is where I witnessed the advertising bombardment) and gave the film a wide release, figuring they’d get as many moviegoers as possible before word spread that, in terms of Clooney films, this one had a lot more in common with “The Good German” than “Ocean’s Eleven.”

Here’s why I saw the movie: it was a prestige product from George Clooney and an acclaimed art-house filmmaker that I knew little about.  I figured if Clooney chose to be in his movie, there had to be something there.  (Find out tomorrow/Tuesday if there actually was.)

But most Americans probably just looked at the poster/trailer, saw George Clooney and a gun, and assumed that it would be another one of his Hollywood high-octane thrillers.  It’s really not, and many people probably found themselves wondering why they got an art-house movie instead of a thriller.

As a blogger and overall film obsessed person, I’ve never really fallen prey to misleading advertising, largely because I do the research.  I follow a lot of movies from pre-production to release, which lends me a degree of familiarity with the general mood of every movie.  But I can imagine that less well-read people probably find themselves the victims of false marketing.

Is anyone else immune?



6 responses

12 09 2010

Thanks to Empire and The Playlist, I hear about movies months before release. I miss going into a movie blind, though.

12 09 2010

As I speak there is a trailer promoting “The Shining” as a romantic comedy.

12 09 2010

Wait … not fan-made?

12 09 2010

Very beautifully fan made.

12 09 2010

Oh, I thought there was a Kubrick-approved trailer that made it look like a romantic comedy. Then I would have been concerned.

Well, then while we are on the topic of fake trailers, let me submit this for one of the best ever:

15 09 2010

I wasn’t fooled. I reviewed the trailer on my site and it was pretty clear to me that there was very little story and it was an arthouse picture. I’m surprised they opened it on so many screens.

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