Quick Takes: 1/25/05

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

  • The opening crawl has been released. Reports surfaced a while ago that the upcoming third season of the Clone Wars animated series would show us what is contained in the text, so if you don’t want that spoiled don’t click. The page also contains the crawl text for the first five movies.

Monster-In-Law

  • The cinematic return of the ex-Mrs. Ted Turner has been posterized.

Man of the House

  • Tommy Lee Jones is really stretching playing a government agent, as can be seen in this poster.

The Cave

Constantine

  • Anyone want to check out the Australian one-sheet?

The Corpse Bride

  • We get our first glimpse at Tim Burton’s return to stop-motion animation via this new trailer. I’m completely on board for this one.

Mirror Mask

  • Visit the official site for a look at this trailer.

The Jacket

  • It’s not available (at least not that I could find) on the official site, but here’s a link to the trailer. This movie is almost on my “To See” list.

Unleashed

  • JoBlo has links to a new poster and trailer for this Jet Li flick.

Strangers With Candy

  • Click above for the official site to a comedic ensemble movie that will hopefully do better than Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy (still one of my favorites) did.

War of the World

  • Word is the first promos with footage from the movie will air during the Super Bowl.

View from the Rental Counter: 1/21/05

Mainstream
Alien Vs. Predator
MPAA: PG-13 (violence and language)
Budget: $65M
Gross: $80M
Market: Fans of the two movies apparently ate this one up but it’s about five years late to really capitalize this one. It seems more like the result of someone attempting cash in on the success of Freddy Vs. Jason. Anyway it did reasonably well theatrically and will probably do likewise on video.

Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow
MPAA: PG
Budget: $40M
Gross: $37M
Market: It’s hard to figure out who this one was marketed to. Action/adventure fans seemed more likely to stay home and watch their new Indiana Jones DVDs. In the end all the features and news stories on the groundbreaking special effects couldn’t save it but the documentaries on said effects that appear on the DVD will likely be a big draw.

Off The Beaten Path
When Will I Be Loved
MPAA: R (sexuality, language and nudity)
Budget: N/A
Gross: $159,000
Market: First – People who enjoy offbeat and interesting character driven movies. Second – People who want to see copious amounts of Neve Campbell’s body. I think those two pretty much cover it.

Television & Box Sets
Warner Gangsters Collection
Market: This is a great set of some of the great gangster flicks back when they knew how to make gangster flicks and didn’t feel the need to include Sean Penn sporting one of the all time greatest afros in history. These titles are available individually as well, but why not just get your James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart shopping done right here?

Batman: Animated Series – Vol. 2
Superman: Animated Series – Vol. 1

Market: These two volumes contain some of the best superhero animation ever. DC characters have done so well in animated form but have languished so badly since the early 1990’s. Hopefully Batman Begins will turn that around.

MacGuyver: Complete First Season
Market: Patty and Selma Bouvier primarily. Also those who want to take notes on how to escape should they find themselves in a cargo container with only a piece of string, some chewing gum and a tin of axel grease (again).

Coupling: Complete Fourth Season
Market: Very funny and very raunchy Brit-com. If you like British humor in general and think Brits obsessing and talking endlessly about sex then this will be right up your alley.

Quick Takes: 1/21/05

Fantastic Four

  • The official site has now “officially” launched with F4 content, including links to the trailer. Fox continues to make their trailers available in QuickTime.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  • The first poster for the Douglas Adams adaptation is now online. Can’t help but dread this one for some reason.

Herbie: Fully Loaded

  • ComingSoon also has the poster for this Disney remake.

The Jacket

  • First trailer and poster are now making the rounds.

Guess Who

  • Sony craps all over the memories of Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Stanley Kramer and Katharine Hepburn and now you can view the poster. The site also has the trailer. Shame.

Duece Bigelow: Male Gigolo

Batman Begins

  • Not big news but the official site has new versions of the trailer and posters, along with a synopsis.
  • Apparently there will be a TV spot airing during the Super Bowl.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

  • TheForce.net reports the theatrical trailer for the final Star Wars movie will debut in front of the animated flick Robots. They also have an unconfirmed description of said trailer here.

The Cave

  • There’s a trailer on the official site now.

Madagascar

  • JoBlo has a look at the new posters for the best flick to feature a talking zebra since Racing Stripes.

Into the Blue

  • Jessica Alba goodness can be found at this link.

Movie Marketing Madness: Are We There Yet?

are-we-there-yet-posterIce Cube seems to idolize Eddie Murphy. That’s the only explanation I can think of for his career track in movies. He starts off in the successful and well received “Boyz N the Hood”, moves on through “Friday” and its two sequels and then starts doing over the top action vehicles like “Torque” mixed with family friendly flicks like his new one, “Are We There Yet?”
If you follow the first ten years of Murphy’s career that’s fine and Cube has a fairly respectful first half to his filmography. The problem for Murphy (and it’s like looking at a dangerous intersection on a map) is that he or someone thought the script for “The Distinguished Gentleman” was funny. If Ice Cube and his agent are smart, they’ll carve out an identity for him that doesn’t continue down this path before he makes his own version of “The Adventures of Pluto Nash”, “Holy Man”, “I Spy”,… well, you get the point.

The Poster

A bedraggled Ice Cube looks defeated by the two kids flanking him, one of whom is giving him bunny ears. Wow, I don’t know about you but that speaks of high comedy. I’m going to pretend that the look on Cube’s face is the one he made after the first cast screening of the movie when he realized, much as guards surrounding a Siberian gulag must have at some point, what exactly he had done. You can almost visualize him thinking that the double-hit of this and the sequel to “XxX” could kill his credibility.

The Trailer

I can’t even go into this without a fresh wave of nausea overcoming me. Every joke that “Home Alone,” “Dutch” and a dozen other John Hughes or Hughes imitators have unleashed upon the public is recycled here for the 8,136th time since 1990. (Authority figure) gets hit in the crotchular area by ________. (Kids/animals/other being in need of care) unleashes (misc. bodily fluid) at inopportune time. Nice/emotionally important car gets wrecked while on road trip. That last item was last funny in “Tommy Boy” and that’s only because the dynamic between David Spade and Chris Farley was perfectly in tune. The time before that was in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, again more because the characters sold it so well and not because of any inherent comedic value in the ruining of a vehicle.

The Website

I love the time I’m saving researching the websites for these post-holiday/after the cutoff for Oscar nominations studio cast offs. There’s never much there and what there is presents very easy targets for scorn and ridicule. This saves me more time for the important part of writing, namely making sure my name is spelled correctly.

The entire site is presented in Flash animations and, beginning with the opening page, features video introductions by Ice Cube and the two kids, who I’m sure will go on to win Academy Awards in the near future. The problem with these intros (there are many, actually, but I’ll focus on one here) is that they all look like they were shot against a green screen with all the props animated in after the fact. All the reactions and movements of the actors are just slightly out of sync with what they’re supposed to be doing. On the plus side, there’s a scene of Cube getting some sort of slime poured on him that reminded me of that old Canadian show “You Can’t Do That On Television”.

“Watch the Preview” is a different way of saying “watch the trailer”, “Downloads” contains wallpaper and AIM icons and “Photo Gallery” has about ten pictures in there of Ice Cube looking befuddled or the kids looking mischievous. “About the Film” has a Story Synopsis and Production Notes that describe the difficulties the crew had in making the garage of the director of photography, the only location available to them, look like the rolling hills of rural Canada and how the illusion of motion was created by having Skippy the Intern run past a parked SUV dozens of times an hour, each time with a different outfit on.

Some of that may be made up but it really doesn’t matter.

While all of the intricate Flash animation is loading, the site presents a game of Tic Tac Toe featuring what may be the world’s dumbest computer as your opponent. Seriously, if this were the artificial intelligence Matthew Broderick had to teach how to play chess, then Dabney Coleman and Barry Corbin would never have called back the bombers in time.

There are a couple more intricate games on the site, including “Mess Up My Ride” (sounds like the name of a show on TLC next season) and “Road Trip”. Neither of these are that fun or entertaining. They and the “Promotions” portion of the site exist solely to pimp the SUV that is featured in the movie.

Overall

Just to reiterate, Ice Cube, one-time gangsta rapper, is in a PG-rated family movie featuring a giant axe that falls into his “area”. I’m not sure who the intended audience is here since the tone of the trailer and website seem to suggest this was made by scientists attempting to prove some sort of “crap script + old jokes + annoying child actors = comedic gold” theory. My guess is this trailer may have actually contained a subliminal message and I remained unaffected because I didn’t watch the whole thing, what with the psychosomatic blindness and all.

You can almost hear Ice Cube calling the other members of N.W.A. about a reunion record, can’t you?

View from the Rental Counter: 1/18/05

Didn’t do one of these last week. My bad.

Mainstream
Catwoman
MPAA: PG-13 (action/violence and sensuality)
Budget: $85M
Gross: $40M
Market: Surf on over to FilmThreat for my full column on this one. This is the type of movie that will likely find a bigger audience on DVD than it did in theaters as its easier to distract yourself by, say, pulling your eyebrow hairs off.

Cellular
MPAA: PG-13 (violence, terror, language)
Budget: $25
Gross: $30
Market: This movie seemed to market itself as a thinking-man’s thriller so it might do well with someone looking for a decent flick. Kim Basinger seems to be trying to re-re-re-vitalize her career by pulling a MacGyver with a smashed up phone. Might be worth checking out with a sweetheart who will grab your hand every time something conveniently scary pops up.

Forgotten
MPAA: PG-13 (violence and language)
Budget: $42M
Gross: $66M
Market: Full disclosure – I’m a huge Julianne Moore fan so I really want to check this one out. This and Cellular might cannibalize each other’s audience to some extent as they’re likely to appeal to the same group.

Friday Night Lights
MPAA: PG-13 (sexual content, language, rough sports and action)
Budget: $30M
Gross: $61M
Market: Jocks and the girls who love them. That’s pretty much it. If you can’t get enough of high school football on public-access cable then this one’s for you. Looks like it follows the Hoosiers mold pretty closely in being all inspirational.

Off the Beaten Path
Rosenstrasse
MPAA: PG-13 (mature material, some violence and mild drug content)
Market: This is another tale to come out of World War II and the Holocaust so if you’re a History Channel buff and always head for the WWII section at Borders this is one to check out.

Television & Box Sets
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Complete 3rd Season
Market: This is one of the funniest shows on television. It’s accomplished this feat by being intelligently written (to the degree that it is, since much of the dialogue is improvised) and cleverly plotted. Fans of not only Seinfeld but The Office and Fawlty Towers will enjoy Larry David’s world.

The Return of Jafar/Aladdin and the King of Thieves
Market: Enjoying Disney’s feature films is understandable. Yes, they may be overly saccharine of late (pretty much after Sword in the Stone) but they are designed to appeal to a broad audience and they hit that big target. Enjoying their crappy straight-to-video sequels is less understandable and you should probably see some about that. Keep in mind this package does not contain the original for no good reason I could think of.

Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries
Market: You know who you are. This is timed to come out just as the new miniseries is hitting airwaves.

Movie Marketing Madness: Elektra

elektrammm05storyJennifer Garner is hot. Jennifer Garner looks really hot while kicking ass.The first statement above is an empirical truism. The second statement is something we have all come to learn through three seasons of “Alias” and from watching 2003’s big-screen adaptation of Daredevil. In that she was but a supporting character, second-fiddle billing-wise to Ben Affleck’s title character. The role wasn’t that much of a stretch from her TV persona Sydney Bristow, but she did a good enough job there to warrant a spin-off.

The Posters

All of the posters play on the above mentioned point: Jennifer Garner being hot. The first two just showed Garner as Elektra now decked out in her signature red outfit, clearly differentiating this from Daredevil, where she wore a black leather outfit (which I had absolutely no problem with). The second poster showed some of the movie’s villains, all glaring and looking very much villain-y. Perhaps the marketers and filmmakers became concerned Garner wouldn’t be able to open the movie on her own and so threw in some more comic book based goodness to get the geeks talking?

The Trailers

Quick cuts and more, oh so much more, of Elektra in skimpy red leather outfit. None of the trailers, teaser, theatrical or international, make the movie look like anything remotely original so I have to believe the marketing department has made a conscious decision to go on name and character recognition alone with this one.

The Website

In my 2004 Wrap-Up I said that it was the first year studios really started paying attention to their websites. Not so much with “Elektra”, which features one of the barest sites I have seen in recent memory

First up, the Intro to the site plays exactly like the teaser trailer, a wasted opportunity in my opinion. The trailers and posters are supposed to drive traffic to the site. So when you open it up with something they have already seen, you’re tipping your hand that the creativity was not exactly flowing in any of the meetings regarding the site look and feel.

Once you get past that, there is very little on the site itself. “Trailers and Video” contains the theatrical trailer (but not the teaser for no good reason I can think of), a martial arts featurette and three or four clips of director Rob Bowman talking about the production. All of these are presented exclusively in QuickTime format, a decision 20th Century Fox continues to make and which I continue to disagree with. All they’re doing is forcing people without QuickTime to hit Google with requests for other versions.

“About the Movie” isn’t bad even if it isn’t stocked very well. The Synopsis contains some of the worst writing I’ve seen lately and was obviously a task given to Skippy the Intern who must have failed his/her English classes. Production Notes fair a bit better. Most of the comments from the cast and crew touch on the Elektra mythology from the comics and how hard Garner worked to train in order to appear believable in the movie. Cast/Characters and Filmmakers have brief bios on the players. Half the Cast bios are not yet on the site and it’s less than a week before opening day. Buy a Day Planner. Use it.

If you want to you can “Elektra-fy Your Desktop”. Get it? Electrify is now being spelled “Elektra-fy” in order to play on the name of the movie! That’s going to get me a lot more excited about Wallpapers, IM icons and a Screensaver! Feel my heart pounding. There is also an extraordinarily lame “Ninja Assassin Game which, after 15 minutes of frustration, I gave up on.

I’m just not a gamer.

Talking about the section labeled “Sticks and Tats” could get me in trouble with the FCC so I’ll leave that alone.

The soundtrack of course has its own site where you can listen to clips of the songs and visit the official sites for the various bands on the record. There are also lots of opportunities for you to pass the word about the soundtrack. More effort seems to have gone into this site than the movie’s.

Overall

Everything about this campaign reeks of a studio toss-off in the post-Christmas wasteland. They seem to just be releasing it for the sake of releasing it without putting any real effort into it. This may be because they are counting on the (substantial) allure of Jennifer Garner’s impeccably toned abs with the perfectly centered belly-button drawing out eyes to the picture of a gorgeous woman wearing what amounts to very litt…. Sorry. Kind of got off track there. They’re either counting on Jennifer Garner and the Elektra character to bring in the fans or they think they’ve got a bad movie on their hands and just don’t care.

All of the press materials draw attention to this movie coming from the makers of “X-Men”, despite the characters association with and introduction to the movie world in “Daredevil”. They’re obviously trying to distance themselves from a critical misfire and attach themselves to the more successful comic franchise currently residing at Fox. It’s a good trick. I just don’t think the campaign is very successful at appealing to comic fans or outsiders familiar with Garner from TV.

One point I forgot to make in the column itself was all the press Jennifer Garner has gotten in the last few weeks regarding what has sometimes been referred to as a viral infection and sometimes some nerve damage. Either way, she had to postpone doing some publicity stops – including hosting Saturday Night Live – and there was much speculation as to whether she would make the premiere of her own movie.

This is becoming an increasingly common occurrence. George Clooney was supposedly sidelined just before the premiere of Ocean’s Twelve and various stars have bowed out of this or that claiming some illness or the generic “exhaustion”. I wonder what the reality of these situations is? Is it a monetary situation? Is it that the stars have lost faith in the movies and so are distancing themselves? I’d love to give these folks the benefit of the doubt but don’t know that I can considering how much this kind of thing is happening lately.

Quick Takes: 12/6/05

Catching up on things from the last few weeks so this is going to be a long one. May want to settle in with a cup of coffee.

Sin City

  • The new trailer is up at Yahoo! Movies and has immediately put this one on my “To See In 2005″ list.
  • ComingSoon was given high-res versions of the posters so go on over to check those out.

Fantastic Four

  • Rumors are the first trailers will be attached to next week’s release of Elektra (also a Fox production).

Kingdom of Heaven

  • Not only is the official site now active, but it also contains a trailer (only in QuickTime – go to Yahoo! for a Windows Media version) which, despite my better judgment, I actually thought worked pretty well. Maybe with Ridley Scott on this one I just have a better sense of it.

The Ring Two

  • The official site is now up and has a fair amount of content, including the full trailer.

Hide & Seek

  • Fairly cool and interactive official site for the new, non Ben Stiller-starring Robert DeNiro movie is now up and running.

War of the Worlds

  • ComingSoon has the first official photo from this up comer.
  • The official site has also been updated with a new look.

V For Vendetta

  • There’s a first look at the poster for this adaptation (which reportedly will star Natalie Portman) here. I can’t tell you how much I don’t like the “An Uncompromising…” line at the top of the poster.

The Pacifier

  • Urm… Vin Deisel in a Disney family comedy? See the poster here. Remind anyone else of Hulk Hogan in Mr. Nanny?

Sahara

  • First one-sheet for this one is also now available. Three words: Big. Red. McConaughey.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

  • Cast members from all six films got together for this Vanity Fair cover. Very cool for geeks such as myself.

Boogeyman

  • Yet another official site has launched.

Elektra

  • The site has updated with a bunch of new content, just in time for the release date.
  • So has the soundtrack’s site.
  • The first four pages of the comic adaptation have been posted online (spoiler warning).
  • A lot of stories have been making the rounds on star Jennifer Garner having some sort of viral infection that caused her to bow out of some publicity activities. Apparently whatever it was has cleared up just in time.

Batman Begins

  • A hi-res version of the trailer is now at the official site.

Danny the Dog

  • Never heard of this movie before, but it looks pretty cool. Here’s a link to view the poster and trailer.

Alone in the Dark

  • This one is just flying onto my radar. Here’s a link to the trailer at IGN.

Tideland

  • Official site = now active.

The Longest Yard

  • New poster with Sandler’s big scary head front and center.