When a single man goes up against a faceless, all powerful enemy – whether it’s a government or a company or some other sort of organization – it always makes for at least decent drama. We all like to think of ourselves as being able to see past through the wool that “the man” tries to pull over our eyes and so movies that tell that same sort of story usually will draw people in and tap into their imaginations.
The International is very much one of those stories. Clive Owen stars as an Interpol agent who stumbles upon a conspiracy being perpetuated by the world’s largest banks. He’s determined to bring it down, despite a history of every person who has done so in the past winding up dead, and brings Naomi Watts along with him on his investigation, an investigation that of course winds up including a lot of gun play.
There’s just one poster that was released domestically for the movie but it tries to hit a major visual point. Owen and Watts are pretty small toward the bottom of the poster, which is dominated by the winding platforms of The Guggenheim, which is the home of a major action set-piece in the movie.
The use of the museum, which will be recognizable to most people who have cracked open a Newsweek or Time Magazine in the last five years, is meant to convey to the audience that this is an international thriller with lots of cool chases. Basically that it’s Bond without Bond, which is the central theme of much of the movie’s campaign.
The one trailer for the movie sets up the conflict that drives Owen’s character and along with it the plot pretty well and certainly positions that character as being in the Bond/Bourne mold. After establishing that he’s going up against an all-powerful bank that has killed everyone who’s gotten close to proving a conspiracy, Owen is told that the only way he’s going to succeed is to go outside the system and therefore outside what’s legal in his investigation.
From there it’s all gunfire and running, with a couple brief pauses for him to warn Watts’ character of what’s at stake and how she’s not only putting herself in danger but also her family.
Despite seeming more than a little unintentionally funny at times it’s a tight trailer that, I would guess, would go a long way to engaging and attracting the people who have made the Bourne series a hit. The major problem it has against it is that it’s utterly forgettable the moment it’s over and doesn’t stick out at all. It’s working so hard to be in the mold of those two other franchises that it doesn’t do a very good job of being unique and that’s a problem.
The only option of note on the front page of the movie’s official website aside from the prompt to Enter the Site is one to view an extended clip from the movie. That clip is hosted on the Sony-owned Crackle.com and is taken from the Guggenheim scene that is featured in the trailer as well as the poster.
Interestingly you can also view the first five minutes from the movie on MSN . So the studio decided to stay in-house for one clip but not another.
Entering the Site, the progress bar as it loads look like it’s executing a money transfer, which is a nice touch that stays contextual to the movie. The site design mimics that of the one-sheet, which shouldn’t be that surprising.
The first section is “The Film” and that’s where you’ll find a one-paragraph Synopsis and a Cast & Crew listing that doesn’t contain any of the usual background information on those players, just their names. There’s nothing to click on or dive into. Odd.
“Video” contains only the trailer. I know there were more than a few TV spots for the movie created so it’s disappointing to see this so sparsely populated. Similarly skimpy is “Downloads” which just has some Wallpapers and Icons you can grab. There are a whopping eight stills from the movie in the “Gallery.”
The final section on the site is “Threat.” That’s a simple strategy game that has little to do with the movie and really is there just to give the site one last section.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
As I said above, there were a handful of TV spots created for the movie, one of which actually aired during Barack Obama’s inaguration as president. The timing of that raised some concern since the spot does show a man standing at a podium who gets shot. It was troubling enough that CNN pulled further airings of the commercial during that broadcast.
A bit of online advertising was done as well but there didn’t seem to be a huge ad buy for the movie.
Media and Publicity
Most of the media stories about the film, especially in the last couple weeks, have pointed out that this is one of two espionage-themed movies Owen has coming out in the first half of 2009, something that could lead to some confusion in the minds of the audience. Other than that there were a handful of interviews and some other press but no real over-arcing story to the film’s publicity push.
Really disappointing. This is such a lackluster campaign – strong poster but weak trailer and really weak website – that the movie generates absolutely no excitement. If the goal is to motivate audiences to seek the movie out amongst the other offerings, many of which are going to be lighter and more family-friendly, it doesn’t do a very good job in achieving that. Instead it’s just sort of lying there and hoping the audience finds it, which is not the way to differentiate a product in a crowded market.
PICKING UP THE SPARE