The Week in MMM: 9/23/05

OK, not a lot of time to give everything its own post today so you get a recap. This is done for your benefit and so that I can clear out my RSS reader of saved items. I’m going to break off trailers into a separate post, though, since there are so many I still have to watch.

General News

  • Studios are marketing films that might not even be religous is nature to churches after watching what church groups did to help The Passion of the Christ.
  • Shel Holtz sees studios utilizing “independent” bloggers to promote their films as an ever-more popular tool. The instance that got his attention with Universal’s giving blog writers early screening passes to Serenity. Shortly after I read this I noticed Josh Marshall was doing just this – with a good explanation of how and why – on his site.
  • U.S. customers of cell phone company Cingular will be just about the only ones in the world not able to access a wireless game involving Wallace & Gromit

Websites

  • Rob McKittrick, the director of Waiting, has a blog which touches on the film’s production.
  • Columbia launched the official site for Zorro 2: The Return of Catherine Zeta Jones’ Cleavage.
  • Fox has put up a site for the thriller Stay, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.

Posters

  • ComingSoon has two batches of international Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire posters.
  • There’s a third poster out now for Saw II.
  • I really like this one-sheet for Three…Extremes, a movie I hadn’t heard about until now.
  • I disagree with JoBlo on this, I do not think this new poster for In Her Shoes is attractive in any way, shape or form.
  • No way this poster for Feel the Love, which looks kind of interesting, makes the cut to be actually released to the public. This will get changed within days, I’d bet.
  • The Matador one-sheet looks very cool.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Corpse Bride

Let me just get this on the record: I’m tired of computer animated films, even those from Pixar.  There.  Now you all know that I really am the heartless SOB everyone has long suspected I was.  I don’t think they bring anything new to the film lexicon, there’s nothing inherently different or unique about them and quite frankly the advent of CGI has led to a lot of crap.  It’s not like animators are all of a sudden able to do something more original with CGI that they weren’t able to do when they were drawing these films by hand.  Plus, I’m getting a little tired of the look of them.

So Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is a wonderfully refreshing experience for me.  Forgoing even hand-drawn animation Burton has once again delved into the world of stop-motion animation.  The first time was for The Nightmare Before Christmas, which came on the heels of his two successful entries in the (initial) Batman series.  I’m not going to go into the plot too deeply since Pete Vonder Haar already submitted his review of the flick.  Let’s just say that, shock of shocks, Johnny Depp plays an eccentric.  Who’d have thunk it?

The Poster

I love it.  From the look of the characters to the little yapping skeletal dog in the background this poster positions the movie not only to be funny but also at times genuinely spooky.  If you’re already familiar with The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman Returns or Edward Scissorhands you’d be able to tell this was a Tim Burton flick even without his name appearing just above the title.  Burton has a one-of-a-kind visual sense to him and it’s in full display here.  The slightly emaciated figures, the blue/gray color palete and the spiny vines coming off the rock all mark this undoubtedly as a Burton production.  Interestingly I think that might be an actual picture of Helena Bonham Carter they used for The Bride and not the clay model.

The Trailers

Let’s not make any mistake about it, the teaser trailer for this flick works a lot better than the theatrical one.  The main reason for the disparity is that the teaser trailer doesn’t feature Annoying Voiceover Guy.  He’s just there in the full trailer to explain to all the rubes sitting in the theater waiting for The Island to start.  The teaser allows the characters to play their parts and let us know what the story entails.  There’s nothing wrong with making the audience think a bit about whether they understand the movie being pitched and then decide if it’s one they’d like to see.  No need to hand everything to them on a silver platter.

OK, that’s enough of that rant.

Anyway, there are some genuinely funny jokes in the trailers and they allude to the dark sense of humor the movie has.  Most of the time of the trailers is spent, shall we say, above ground, as the members of Victor’s and Victoria’s families deal with the strange twist that’s occurred as the couple prepares for their wedding day.  There some shots of the underworld citizens but not as many as I would have expected.  Seeing the characters move around and interact reinforces the unique design they were given and the craftsmanship required to present a full-length stop-motion feature.

The Website

I can’t tell you how disappointed I initially was when I brought up the website for this movie.  The HTML site-lite that Warner Bros. created simply lists all the usual content for a new movie.  Trailers, Photos and such were all there and listed very nicely and cleanly so anyone with basic computer skills could access them.  My heart sank.  “Surely they won’t let a movie as unique as this one be stuck with a half-hearted website,” I said to myself.  Then I entered the Flash-based site and things began to improve.

What Warner Bros. has done (or, more accurately, what the design firm has done on behalf of WB) is create a wonderfully interactive website that showcases the film’s unique locations.  Let’s dig in.

First stop, “The Pub”.  Here you can not only view the Trailer by clicking on a pair of spooky eyes, but you can play a game of darts to unlock other video content.  Online games are often lame but this one is actually quite fun and I played multiple times.  Then we’re off to the “Village Square of the Dead”.  Play catch with the skeleton dog and if you get him to catch the ball, which you throw by grabbing it with your mouse and bouncing it off the buildings, you get to view the Character Profiles of the underworld residents.

Next on the tour is the “Elder’s Study”, where we find some Desktop Wallpaper and, after doing a bit of snooping, a Screensaver.  In the “Village Square of the Living” we get Character Profiles of those in the movie who still have heartbeats and aren’t decomposing.  “Victor’s Room” contains a Synopsis and the Production Notes.  Final stop here is the “Music Room” where we can listen to some clips from Danny Elfman’s soundtrack.  If you look hard enough you can also find a spot where you can play some music yourself using your mouse or keyboard.  Again, it’s a lot of fun and I had a good time playing it.

Keep in mind that much of the content here is hidden, requiring you to look around for things which look out of the ordinary and click on them.  The content itself isn’t that revolutionary but engaging the audience is a good thing.

There are also three microsites associated with the movie you should check out.  Askthedead.com and Bonymail.com both allow you to create spooky messages and send them to friends, while Sept23.com has a grainy Blair Witch like video.

Overall

Where this campaign really shines is on the web.  The trailers are good, but ultimately weighed down by unnecessary voiceover work.  The poster is great at conveying the macabre sense of humor and look of the movie.  The website, though, really seems to have been created with the mindset of providing entertainment value on its own, not just as a repository for repurposed content.  The interactive nature of the website makes it more than just a one-time destination and works hard to sell the movie.

Just Friends trailer

It seems there might be more to the plot of this Ryan Reynolds comedy then I initially thought. He plays a music producer who, while on tour with a band fronted by a hot chick (Anna Ferris) runs into his dream girl from high school (Amy Smart). The problem is that in high school he was fat with no social skills and now he’s skinny with no social skills.

The trailer sets all that up pretty well. The last shot is great, with Reynolds just wordlessly chucking snowballs at a neighbor who has wished him a Merry Christmas. I’ve got some expectation that the trailer doesn’t contain all the movie’s funny bits.

Chicken Little TV spots

Check out this new TV spot for Disney’s Chicken Little. I’m not sure it’s as effective as it could be since, while it gives the story in very broad strokes, it spends a lot of time on one joke for which we are not given the context. It’s a thirty second spot and it seems like a third of that time is spent on that one joke. While it might be hilarious within the movie it just sort of sits there in the commercial.

Anywhere, here are the links for a variety sizes and formats:

Quicktime (small)
Quicktime (large)
Windows Media (small)
Windows Media (large)

Light posting ahead

I may not be getting to all the things I want to over the next couple of weeks. Specifically, there may be some movies I want to cover here on the blog as “Mini MMM” pieces but won’t have the time for. My company is sending me on some trips to speak to PRSA chapters on blogs, RSS and podcasting and so five out of the next ten business days will be spent going to or coming from O’Hare International Airport. It’s exciting stuff but prep work and actual traveling means less time to spout my half-thought out opinions on recent movie campaigns.

Superman Returns teaser trailer

I don’t quite know whether to call this an actual teaser trailer for Superman Returns or not. It’s a promotional reel that was shown at a recent Comic-Con gathering that certainly looks like a teaser. Ahh heck, I’ll just keep it simple and call it that.

Anyway, this teaser is very cool. I’m excited about director Bryan Singer’s concept of using the first two movies as the jumping off point for this new installment and the footage in this one establishes just that conceit. You see the Fortress of Solitude, the Daily Planet building, even a rooftop garden that no working journalist would be able to afford. You really have to watch it for yourself.

It occurs to me that DC is now doing with it’s comic characters just what Marvel did four or five years ago. Take a director that is talented, give him a story to create and work with and let him make an actual movie, not just a commercial for action figure tie-ins. Marvel did it with X-Men (Bryan Singer) and Spider-Man (Sam Raimi) in 2000 and 2001 respectively. Now DC has done it with Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan) and will do it with Superman Returns (Singer, poached from the X-Men franchise) and then Wonder Woman (Buffy creator Joss Whedon). Nothing better epitomizes Marvel’s shift to just wanting to generate cash from trying to create quality product like their hiring of Brett Ratner to direct the new X-Men flick.

11/18 UPDATE: The official teaser trailer has been released. Read my thoughts on it here.