Since packaging seems to be the hot topic of the moment, let's expand on it a little to talk about marketing. In all the talk about why movies didn't do as well as expected this summer, the subject of marketing keeps coming up. It's at least one excuse used to explain the failure of The Island. I think they might be on to something there. I can't speak to the quality of the movie, which I haven't seen yet. (I'm waiting for it to hit the local Brew & View rounding out a double feature with Stealth.) But I know I grew a lot less intrigued with seeing it after seeing all the trailers that gave away the secret at the heart of the film. I've always heard that the studios believe audiences want to know as much as possible about a movie from the trailers, but I'm not so sure. Wouldn't a "What is… The Island?" approach have drawn more people in? Maybe not.
I think a little bit of showmanship couldn't hurt, however. To me all trailers have started to look the same. All posters, too. Here's a for instance, a poster for the movie Stage Beauty.
Let me emphasize, that this is not a good movie. In fact, it's pretty dull. But it's got cross-dressing, stage intrigue, and sexual weirdness, and all kinds of other elements that make it at least potentially interesting. This poster? Maybe it will draw in fanatic Claire Danes and/or Billy Crudup fans. Maybe.
Here's the worst poster out there right now, for an upcoming movie called Roll Bounce.
Not to get too Ain't It Cool here and tip my hand early, but this is a terrific, thoughtful, funny movie about kids who enter a roller skating contest in 1978. I've heard the trailer's good but this poster makes me want to buy deodorant. To the extreme.
Maybe moviegoers aren't bored with movies so much as they're immune to the samey marketing. Maybe we need another William Castle to stir up some excitement. Or at least someone who knows how to create a decent poster. I can't think of a movie since The Limey whose one-sheet I'd want on my wall. And, yeah, I know it's a rip-off of a Freddie Hubbard album cover. But, as with the movies themselves, I'll take a lively, um, homage over a boring original any day.