Movie Marketing Madness: Match Point

Like a lot of things, I came to appreciate Woody Allen later in life. I had been prejudiced against him in childhood by a ridiculous story my mother told (repeatedly) that skewed my view of the Wood-man. In the early 90′s I came close to getting into him when I watched Husbands & Wives but, due to a lack of his early films being available at the local video store I couldn’t get in a groove.

It wasn’t until about two years ago that I made an effort to watch his early stuff and immediately got hooked. Since then I’ve not seen everything he’s ever done but have hit most of the high points of his career. While he may not always achieve what he’s going after he more often than not tries for a finish line that other filmmakers don’t appear to see.

So the end of 2005 sees another Woody Allen film being released. Since he seems to put out at least one film yearly that’s not all that notable but his consistency is amazing, especially considering his age. His latest is Match Point, a drama of doomed and ill-advised romance starring Scarlett Johannson and Jonathan Rhys-Myers.

The Poster

Very dramatic, with it’s black-and-white image of Johannson and Rhys-Myers, or more accurately their mouths and chins. With only half the poster real-estate being used it seems like they were going for a claustrophobic feeling, as opposed to Big Floating Heads on the full poster.

A while ago Jeffery Wells made mention of Allen’s name being in significantly smaller point type than the cast list. I think Wells has a point in that this seems like a calculated move by the poster desingers. Allen has a certain stigma with younger folks like those that would ordinarily be drawn to a Scarlett Johannson movie. By putting his name in smaller type but still above the title they’ve fulfilled their contractual obligations but done so in the least intrusive way they possibly could. It’s a bit demeaning to someone of Allen’s stature but, well, there it is.

The Trailer

Wow, does this not look like a Woody Allen movie.

Actually I take that back. It looks very much like a Woody Allen movie. Shortly after Rhys-Myers gets married he meets Johannson and they begin an affair. What starts out simply enough gets complicated as she becomes more and more unhinged, demanding he leave his wife and making other threats on his comfortable life. What created the impression of this being atypical from Allen is the music. His movies don’t have swelling, dramatic music. They have simple instrumental jazz soundtracks that don’t play along with the emotional upheaval he puts his characters through. That’s what makes this trailer seem different.

That being said it is a pretty good trailer, with Johannson looking lovely as usual. I’m looking forward to an Allen movie that doesn’t use New York as both backdrop and metaphor for a change.

The Website

Most of the website is nothing all that special. Most of the usual suspects can all be found in The Film. If you start clicking on any of the links behind “Love. Lust” or the other quoted phrases be prepared to click for a while and get little in return. Once you start clicking you basically get stills from the film with a little of the trailer dialogue behind them. Seems like an awful lot of effort – both on the developer and user end – is or was devoted to basically nothing. There’s also a section called “Press Room” that you would think is a portion of the site for the press to go to and find information to use. It’s not. Instead it’s just a list of media quotes about the movie. Not the best or most accurate label

The one interesting portion of the site is “Podcasts.” It’s a series of video interviews with Allen, Johannson and some of the other stars of the movie. The only problem is that the only way you can subscribe to them is via iTunes. There isn’t just a all-purpose RSS feed that you can plug into an aggregator/reader and get the videos. That’s a bit disappointing if you don’t have consistent access to iTunes (such as when you’re at work). Minor quibble, but still I think a valid one.

Overall

The poster and trailer are first rate. The trailer, as I mentioned, is definitely trying to make a different impact than would be expected from a Woody Allen movie. With it’s use of dramatic orchestral music it is trying to appear as a more conventional drama. Combine that with the marked downplaying on the poster of Allen’s name and you can see Dreamworks really wants to do something different with this one, something that does not make Allen the main component of the marketing in any way shape or form. You’d think at this point in his career he would have earned the right to have studios trust him. Oh well.

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