Monday, May 21, 2012

Spoiler Alert?: Trailers on Hudson

I've been thinking about movie trailers a lot lately. As more and more people become vocal about disliking movie trailers for "spoiling" films, I can't help but figure they've never seen a trailer for a movie made before, say, 1985. A few weeks ago I went to the calendar launch for The Astor Theatre and was treated to an hour or so of little more than trailers for some of the classic films that will be presented on the big screen over the next few months. It certainly wasn't new to me since I've noted this phenomenon before, but I'm sure many of people would be surprised at just how much old movies were spoiled for audiences. And I don't mean just simple stuff like people able to piece together how a plot develops, but I mean how it starts and ends (plus everything else in between). Movie trailers were never a vague, subtle marketing ploy after all. When the idea of "teasers" popped up some time in the 1980s (I'm thinking of Back to the Future, but there's probably others earlier than that) and then two decades later with the onset of fanboy culture in the 2000s it got (thankfully) uncool to reveal the happenings of your movie, blockbuster or not.

One of the biggest whipping boys of 2012 in this regard has been Ridley Scott's Prometheus. Admittedly, that film has had so many trailers (not to mention trailers for trailers), posters, viral videos, movie clips and behind-the-scenes videos that one could certainly make the case for there being too much out there, but the people at 20th Century Fox wouldn't be putting it out there if they didn't think there were thousands - hundreds of thousands, presumably; possibly millions - of people craving it, not to mention thousands of websites willing to post it in a fevered rush for web hits. When the "international launch trailer" for Prometheus was released some weeks ago, I observed that maybe I'm just different to many others and that I am able to turn off that part of my brain that, upon watching a trailer, attempts to piece it all together. I enjoy watching trailers sometimes (although I don't watch many more than I do) for the way they sometimes weave editing artistry into the stale form, or the way they play with expectations and highlight elements of note. I feel that unless you're actively seeking to predict how a film will unfold from a bunch of quick excerpts then that's your fault, not the marketers' and that the vocal online minority would have you believe a revolt is about to occur on the studio backlots. If you don't want to know anything - and, really, we've seen so many blockbusters by now that we know the rhythm and flow of one to predict a vague outline - about a movie then it's simple: don't watch. I know I rarely ever watch teaser clip because I don't really see the point in seeing a 40-second clip scene play out of context and, really, there's only so many emails I can receive about the new James Bond film, Skyfall, where I just block it all out. "What's that? Judi Dench wears a black pantsuit in a new still? WOW! Next..." Obviously it's harder to ignore stuff that is being actively thrust upon you before theatrical viewings, but people are so busy chewing and coughing and talking and walking around in cinemas these days that it should be easy enough to not pay close attention, right?

Then, of course, there are times where a movie trailer really, truly does seek out to tell an audience every single thing that happens. Such is the case with this newly released trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson, a trailer I seriously thought had to be a "Funny or Die" Oscar parody video from the way it hands its weak watered platitudes to audiences who expect little more out of a movie than some fancy costumes and dialogue. It makes The King's Speech look like Lawrence of Arabia as Bill Murray molds his familiar shtick into prestige assembly line fodder that will probably find him in Oscar's good graces by early 2013. The Lovely Laura Linney is there, too, but has apparently been zapped of all of her personality and wit; she comes off as beige as the entire production. This is a truly awful piece of marketing for a film that looks about as exciting as tea without the teabag. I know everything that this movie possibly has to offer.

The poster, meanwhile, just ditches the middleman - that'd be overly zealous film critics who don't have any right throwing critical judgement on movies when they can't tell the difference between an actor and the (usually dead) real life person they're portraying on screen - and extols "BILL MURRAY IS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT". The Lovely Laura Linney, on the other hand, isn't anybody. She's just herself, I guess, which is fine, but... well, ya know. Also, that font on the (long, long, long) tagline is rather ugly, isn't it?

Basically, the marketing around this movie is sending of major "polite!" vibes. Also "bland", "snoozerama" and "Pensioner Wednesday". Oy.

1 comment:

Runs Like A Gay said...

This has everything the Academy will want to see in a prestige awards baiting movie - have we slipped back in time to the late 80's?

Very disappointing and bland so far.