Leading up to the promotional frenzy that’s likely to come in honor of San Diego Comic Con, the holiday week has been fairly slow in the marketing department.
The few big releases making promotional moves opted to go the poster route. The Amazing Spider-Man plugged its IMAX release with a new poster featuring The Lizard while The Expendables 2 doesn’t even need IMAX; it’s action icon-packed cast is already larger than life. Dredd opted for a motion poster that features a prime pre-release marketing tool, the movie’s most quotable and therefore eventually most overused line while The Dark Knight Rises dishes out yet another design, but keeps the bar high with a wall-worthy rendering. Total Recall is the sole upcoming wide release to tap a fairly quiet region of the marketing realm; viral sites. The Rekall campaign grows, unveiling the opportunity to get a personalized Rekall video and enter to win some impressive prizes.
As for the limited releases, we’ve got four videos worth checking out. Space Nazis attempt to get closer to a US theatrical release with a brand new domestic trailer for Iron Sky while Zach Galifianakis shows off the trailer for his first go at producing for the big screen, Craigslist Joe. AFI Fest Grand Jury Prize winner The Loneliest Planet rocks a particularly eerie new trailer and The Imposter gives you the opportunity to delve into the disturbing case of Frédéric Bourdin before exploring all the details in the full feature.
The Best Stuff
1. Compliance Trailer: Even after having kept an eye on the Sundance Film Festival, Compliance wasn’t on my radar in the least, but this new trailer is absolutely mesmerizing. There isn’t even a high concept or shtick to catch your attention; this trailer, and perhaps the film itself, is all about solid storytelling. In a mere 55 seconds we get all the details of a troubling situation backed by a seemingly harmless, yet unsettling piano tune. The piece could have ended right there and you’d still be itching for more, but then in comes a disturbing twist, further enhanced by a rather eerie presentation of imagery, unforgettable dialogue and soundtrack that explodes into a noticeably tragic tune of a string ensemble. In the end, even though you’ve got a clear sense of where this story is going, the stakes are so high, you’re absolutely desperate to put together all the pieces and find out what happens.
2. Oz: The Great and Powerful Poster: Had you asked me what I thought the first poster for this one might look like, I’d have said a barely recognizable silhouette of James Franco, tipping a top hat with a green tinge to it. You can picture it, right? Well, clearly the first poster for Oz: The Great and Powerful looks nothing like that and that in itself is a glorious thing. When you recruit a number of big name actors, the easy marketing move is to plaster their names or faces all over the artwork, but an image like this puts the focus on the material and, in turn, suggests this might not be any old go at making a buck off famous faces and a beloved story. To top it all off, this poster is simply a work of art, an image worthy of admiring, not a mere fleeting glance.
3. Katy Perry: Part of Me Clip: Katy Perry is undeniably a superstar, however, unlike the large majority of the most famous folks out there, there’s something very warm and honest about her and that’s what’s making all of the promotional material for Katy Perry: Part of Me work so well. This isn’t just some 3D concert movie where we watch über popular musicians sing to adoring crowds and then toss in a few moments where they talk about the stress that comes with being insanely rich and famous; it’s got some of that woe-is-me sorrow, but Perry’s wildly colorful act and personality is there and the balance between the two makes her story feel real, thoughtful and quite fun.
The Worst Stuff
1. Jack Reacher Teaser Trailer: Good performance or not, at this point, it’s nearly impossible to separate Tom Cruise’s characters from Tom Cruise himself. That being said, if Cruise is the star of your movie, a character reveal trailer is absolutely out of the question. This first teaser for Jack Reacher isn’t about revealing Jack Reacher rather it becomes revealing Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher and, in light of Cruise’s insane superstardom as well as recent pop culture news, it makes it impossible to get immersed in the material, let alone take it seriously.
2. Why Stop Now Poster: When you look at this poster for Why Stop Now would you ever think it’s for a movie about a kid who needs to get his mother high so she qualifies for a drug detox program? Of course not, and that’s too bad because that plot point is the film’s selling point. Yes, Jesse Eisenberg, Melissa Leo and Tracy Morgan are big names, but none guarantee an audience, especially when it comes to a limited release film. If this design is meant to draw a crowd via a laugh, it fails miserably. The only way for this image to get even the slightest chuckle is if the viewer is already familiar with the story. However, even then, all three still look absolutely ridiculous. Actually, Leo and Morgan look disconcertingly hysterical. On the bright side, at least this is an improvement from the original poster that presented Why Stop Now like a dismal and twisted family road trip/musical.
3. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D Trailer: Call me crazy, but I’m not much of a Cirque du Soleil fan. Sure the visuals are stunning and the artists incredibly talented, but I just prefer shows with prominent narratives. Based on that, it should come as no surprised that I wasn’t swayed by the first trailer for the James Cameron-produced Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D. Yes, Andrew Adamson takes the mesmerizing imagery of the show and enhances it further with a cinematic perspective, but again, like the show, the story gets lost in the mix. Had I not known the film comes with a narrative, I would have watched the trailer and assumed it to be for a Cirque du Soleil documentary, or perhaps something more along the lines of a 3D concert movie. And apparently I wasn’t the only one not feeling the big screen spin on the contemporary circus; The Guardian has a particularly amusing breakdown of the Worlds Away story based on the trailer that’s worth checking out.