Tag Archives: movie marketing

The perfect thriller

Like a lot of people, I re-joined Netflix to get access to the new season of Arrested Development.  Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t watch it yesterday.

So no spoilers.

I have been watching a lot of other things on the streaming service. Movies that sunk by me at the theatre…or that didn’t reappear as I had expected on HBO.

One of my fav’s?

perfect host posterThe Perfect Host, starring David Hyde Pierce. He is always incredible, so I blame the marketing campaign for not inciting me to see this gem at the movie theatre.

Pierce plays Warwick Wilson, who is home prepping for a dinner party when John Taylor, an injured bank robber, comes to his door desperate to find a place to hide out.   John poses as a ‘friend of a friend’ and convinces Warwick to not only let him in, but also invite him to stay for the party. But as the guests arrive, John realizes Warwick is much more than he first appeared.

It’s creepy and kooky and has so many twists and turns, you won’t be able to keep up.  I loved it.  I recommend it.

Heck, it’s even worth joining Netflix to see.

Bear it

Yesterday I attended an advance screening of 50/50, the new Seth Rogen film starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt as a 27-year old cancer patient.

It’s obvious from the marketing that this movie is taking a more lighthearted approach to this terrible disease.

(Actually, Seth Rogen’s involvement alone is a pretty big clue.)

I smuggled my bear Snuffles into the theatre with me.  As you may recall, Snuffles was a huge help to me and my family when cancer changed our lives forever 20 years ago.  And I valued his opinion of the movie’s success or failure in its quest to portray a cancer patient as he encounters the painful hurdles (and unexpected hilarities) on the road to wellness.

Snuffles posted his movie review below:

Shockingly, we are in agreement on all points.  That’s some bear.

(We’ll work on the lighting next time.)


The MacGruber movie opens today, and I think it’s going to be hilarious.

Perhaps I’ll be disappointed…but I don’t think so.  And here’s why.

Even as a sketch, “Saturday Night Live” found a way to heighten the funny in each MacGruber episode.  The last one this season, which featured the incomparable Betty White as MacGruber’s freaky grandmother, was off-the-charts.

For the movie, the writers and directors dropped MacGruber into an 80’s-style action film.  The plot sounds like one big ol’ cliche that our hero repeatedly blows up.  “His methods may be unorthodox. His crime scenes may get messy. But if you want the world saved right, you call in MacGruber.”

What’s not to love?

Reportedly the movie is so dirty, it almost got an NC-17 rating, so very little could be shown in the trailers.  (Another way to get butts in the seats.)   But my favorite bit of move marketing that MacGruber employed that is a first — at least that I’ve seen — is the use of television show-specific trailers.

For example, the MacGruber trailer that ran this Thursday in the NBC sitcom “Community” was a mock PSA that MacGruber and his sidekick, Vicki St. Elmo, did about community colleges.  They did similar PSAs in “Parks & Recreation,” “The Office,” and “30 Rock.”

These might have been necessary due to the lack of footage appropriate to the television audience.  But I think film marketers everywhere should take note.  Talk about movie marketing that grabs your audience’s attention.

Plus, each ad ends with a MacGruber explosion.


Trailers no more

Remember movie trailers in the olden days?

They promoted future movies to the captive audience waiting for the feature to begin, of course.  But they also gave the people who were running late another good 15 minutes to get to the theater.

Then the movie theaters added commercials before the trailers to make some extra dough, and suddenly movie audiences had a 20 minute window…which just made them later.

But today, movie trailers are become more and more the featured entertainment — a vehicle to get audiences in those pricey theater seats.

I’ll use “Twilight” as an example (sorry, but they do this stuff pretty well).

The “Eclipse” movie — third in the “Twilight” saga — is scheduled to hit theaters June 2010.  On Tuesday, Summit Entertainment released a 10 second “Eclipse” trailer as a “teaser” online.

Today they released the full 90 second trailer, and audiences who go see Robert Pattinson in “Remember Me” — opening this Friday nationwide — will see this “Eclipse” trailer on most prints.

Brilliant.  Summit is using the “Twilight” mania to drive audiences to “Remember Me.”  I’m sure a lot of these same people would have seen the movie anyway — since RPatz is the star — but the promise of footage of the upcoming “Eclipse” movie pretty much seals the deal.

My local AMC theater even advertises on their marquee when “Twilight” trailers are attached to films.  It’s whack…but it works.

Other films with equally rabid fan bases should pay close attention.

Those 90 second shorts can get butts in the seats.

One man’s lie…

You might expect the trailers for a movie called “The Invention of Lying” to skirt the truth a bit.  And boy, do they.

The movie is about the first man who ever lied…and how his subsequent lies changed his life and the lives of his family, friends and ultimately, the world.

But the marketing campaign leaves out a lot. While the promos do portray the movie as a comedy — and rightly so — “The Invention of Lying” is also quite poignant at times.  This is a rather dramatic role for Ricky Gervais, and he performs it beautifully. Who knew such a sarcastic so-and-so had such range?

There are also dozens of amazing celebrity cameos that made me laugh aloud in surprise.  (I will point out that at these moments, my laugh was often the only one you heard in the theater; I guess I’m better at spotting a cameo than some.)

Perhaps the biggest omission from the trailers is the subject matter of the lies that Gervais’ character tells.  That was a very smart move.  If they had revealed this information in the marketing, a substantial chunk of the potential audience might have stayed away.  This way, they’ll already be in the audience and in a good mood when it’s revealed.  And hopefully, they won’t feel judged.

So, while I am often annoyed when movie marketing gives you the wrong impression about a film — for example, when movies like “The Family Stone” come off like feel-good comedies in the promos and then spring cancer on you — I applaud “The Invention of Lying” for holding back.

It’s a great film.  It’s funny and smart and surprising and actually makes you think.  And thanks to the marketing, a whole lot more people will see it.

(The preceding message is true.)