Movie Marketing Madness: Barney’s Version

Let’s just be honest – some people are, have been and always will be a mess. That doesn’t mean they’re fundamentally bad people. Sure, some are, but just because someone is constantly living in a state of being flustered, directionless and in some sort of conflict with those around them doesn’t automatically mean that they’re not good people. Often they’re just not comfortable in their own skins and haven’t found good ways to deal with that. They try and they love their friends and families but are, again, just kind of a mess.

One of those type of people appears to be the subject of the new movie Barney’s Version. The movie tells the story of Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) a guy who doesn’t seem to know what he wants or wants things at the wrong time. His first wife Clara (Rachelle Lefevre) is a bohemian spirit who’s always cheating on him. His second (Minnie Driver) is a spoiled woman who Barney loathes. But when marrying that second wife he meets – and begins chasing after – the woman (Rosamund Pike) who he feels is his true love. The movie is based on the novel by Mordecai Richler that has a lot of fans but which, as we’ll see later on, has been a struggle to translate to the screen.

The Posters

The movie’s poster is a relatively simple design but it does a number of things that I think increase its attractiveness to the audience, at least the portion of the audience that’s going to be pre-disposed to character-driven movies like this.

The design shows mostly the interplay between Giamatti and Hoffman, which is the first thing it does right since the more these two are on-screen playing off each other the better the movie is likely to be, at least that’s the promise here. At the top it shows off the three women that will make up Barney’s romantic history but at the very top are the badges of the film festivals the film has appeared at, giving it that much more credibility in the eyes of that discerning audience. Below the main Giamatti/Hoffman picture is the tagline “First he got married. Then he got married again. Then he met the love of his life.” That’s a great encapsulation of the film’s story in a concise way that’s kind of funny and does a lot to convey the spirit of the movie when matched up against the trailer.

The Trailer

The movie’s first official trailer is kind of fantastic – much better than the early promotional and international versions that had appeared earlier.

We are introduced early on to the premise behind the title, that there’s a story to Barney’s life and this is his version. That life is mainly told through the romances in it, beginning with his first wife, who was carrying another man’s baby but making him think it was his, to his second, which seems to be a physical thing, to the woman he eventually fell in love with after meeting her on the day of that second wedding. There’s a bit toward the end about a gun that ties back to the opening, where someone is confronting him about being a murderer but that’s not really explained or expanded upon.

This is a role Giamatti fits in to very nicely since Barney is kind of a schlub who seems perpetually melancholy but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t seem to play this role very nicely. Particularly attractive seem to be the scenes he shares with Hoffman since this is exactly the kind of role that actor would have – and did – play 20 years ago. So it works in presenting the film as an entertaining but largely known quantity with some reliably good performances.


The movie’s official website opens by playing the trailer, which is certainly worth re-watching. You an also view a handful of Stills, find a theater near you that’s playing the movie, read “About the Cast” and download a Press Kit. there’s also information on the source novel and the option to buy it right there.

Entering the site the first section, which loads automatically, is the “Synopsis,” which gives a pretty good overview of the movie’s story.

“Trailer” just as the trailer, obviously and “Gallery” has mostly the same collection of stills that were seen before.

The “Cast” section here has the same information that was found earlier but it’s broken up by actor and not just one long document with everyone’s information. The same sort of backgrounds are given for those behind the camera in “Filmmakers.” Some information on the author can be found under “Mordecai Richler.”

“Reviews” just has a couple of pull quotes from early reviews of the movie but no links to read them in their entirety and “Press Kit” has the same PDF download available.

The “About the Production” section is pretty robust, starting with the publication of the novel and providing an overview of the story before getting in to how the movie actually and eventually came together.

The movie’s Facebook page is pretty standard, with information on where Giamatti in particular was doing publicity for the film and with the usual assortment of photos and video to offer people there.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’ve seen.

Media and Publicity

News of the movie’s acquisition by Sony Classics was the first real bit of news about the movie other than an international trailer (not covered here) that had hit the web  a few months previous. That news coincided with the movie’s debut appearance (Reuters, 9/10/10) at the Venice International Film Festival and, at about the same time, at the Toronto International Film Festival. Between these two appearances the initial buzz about the movie was largely positive, mostly focusing on the excellent cast and their performances.

The journey the movie took from its source book to the screen was also the focus of some stories (New York Times, 11/28/10) that looked at what was cut, what had to be modified and how such a winding and twisting narrative was eventually made to fit into the form and structure film demands.

Co-star Rosamund Pike got profiled (Los Angeles Times, 12/2/10) for having such a varied and unorthodox career that has included some choices that might seem odd based on the fact that she first appeared on the scene as a Bond Girl but which have allowed her to follow her own path. Then both Pike and Giamatti were interviewed (LAT, 12/3/10) about how Barney’s Version fits in – or doesn’t – with the majority of what’s in theaters and what they think about the material.


The campaign works in its efforts to appeal to fans of independent, character-driven movies by playing up the performance of Giamatti, which is really a no-brainer when it comes to what to highlight. The poster puts him front and center (alongside Hoffman, which again is a great pairing) and he’s in almost every frame of the trailer.

The marketing plays the movie as a tragically funny film filled with moments that you may laugh at as you look through the fingers you’re covering your eyes with because they’re also quite painful as the main character self-destructs before your very same eyes. It all plays together very nicely though and, as I said, presents a very attractive option for those people looking for something that is a little tougher to digest this time of year.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Dilemma

At some point or another in a friendship one person will have to be the one to break bad news – or at least speak some sort of brutally honest but largely uncomfortable truth – to the other. That could be something as innocuous as telling them that, despite what they might be thinking they really shouldn’t wear those shorts or something life-altering like admitting that they don’t really get why they’re so excited about “Red Dwarf” despite the hours that have been spent watching and discussing it.

The big one, though, is when you have to tell a friend something unfortunate about the person they’re married to or dating and that’s what forms the premise of the new Ron Howard-directed film The Dilemma. Business partners Ronny and Nick (Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, respectively) are also great personal friends, doing everything with each other and their ladies, Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) and Ronny’s girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly). But then one day by happenstance Ronny sees Geneva kissing another guy (Channing Tatum). Ronny the wrestles with the decision as to whether or not to tell his friend about the indiscretion, not wanting to be the bad guy and the bearer of bad tiding.

Let me just say right off the bat here that the premise doesn’t make a ton of sense. Sure it provides the springboard for what’s likely to be some good comedic moments. But to any self-respecting guy above the age of about 10 this isn’t really much of a dilemma. You may not want to be the one that punctures someone’s perceived perfect world but, if you know something, you have to say it. There isn’t even a decision process that goes into this – it’s just the right thing to do.

That being said, let’s take a look at how this ridiculous – though likely funny – story is being sold.

The Posters

The movie’s single poster does little to nothing for the movie. It’s just Vaughn and James (actually I think it’s wax statues of the two of them) standing there smiling at the camera with the title treatment in the middle of the image. There’s nothing – not even some annoying copy – that talks about the story or anything else. It’s selling the movie strictly on the assumption that the audience will find the two stars charming and amusing in and of themselves without any explanation as to what the movie is about being necessary.

The Trailers

The trailer starts off with Vaughn doing his verbal thing, immediately selling the movie to the audience as an extension of his on-screen persona. We then see that he and James are the best of friends and that they, along with their smoking hot wives, hang out together pretty regularly.

But then the story starts as Vaughn sees Ryder kissing some other guy. He then begins asking anyone he comes across what he should do about the situation, getting all sorts of different answers.

Aside from a joke about Vaughn landing in some powerfully poisonous plants that’s setup and to which we see the payoff (likely not the only one) for, that’s about it. The trailer sells the movie as a light and fun good time with some actors who the audience can relate to going through the funny lines and not much else, but that’s probably all it really needs to do.

The second trailer excises the controversial opening joke from the first one (see the massive amount of ink spilled on that issue below) and presents more of a straight-forward pitch for the movie. We again get the setup of Vaughn and James being salesmen but then we move more quickly into Vaughn seeing Ryder cheating on James and then following her around. Much of the rest of the spot is about him trying to figure out what to do with that information, including confronting Ryder about it, which leads to a little stare down between the two of them.

I labeled this as more straight-forward since, while the focus is still clearly on Vaughn’s character, there are less digressions into his off-topic moments, specifically the running joke about him landing in some poison plants. So there’s time here for those other plot elements.

I’m still not sure why we need to see so much of Queen Latifah’s graphically inappropriate descriptions of her reactions to the presentations, though.


The first page on the movie’s official site gives you a few tidbits of content before fully entering. There’s a “Story” synopsis that isn’t bad but is displayed in a font that makes it incredibly hard to read. The “Gallery” has 22 stills from the movie with a few behind-the-scenes shots with Howard thrown in as well. There’s also the “Trailer” and a “How Far Would You Go For a Friend” sweepstakes that gave away a trip to Aspen and other prizes that requires you to login to Facebook to participate.

When you do Enter the Site you immediately watch the second trailer. If you close that you get a rotating series of images from the movie.

The “Video” section has just the second trailer (an attempt to unremember the first one that raised so many hackles?) and four TV Spots.

“The Film” has the same Story synopsis that’s on the front page along with Cast Bios, Crew Bios and Production Notes that come as a PDF download.

Under “Downloads” you’ll find a handful of Wallpapers, some Icons for your instant messaging life and Twitter Skins that you can add to your social networking profile. Finally “Images” has the same handful of stills that were already mentioned.

One thing that has to be noted is that there are an awful lot of “Share” options on the site. Almost every section of the site allows you to share photos, videos or whatever on the social network of your choice. Or, if you prefer, you can mark your presence on the entire site through one of the Share links at the bottom of the page. The studio certainly wants to encourage people to spread the word to their friends about the movie.

The film’s Facebook page opens with the “How Far Would You Go” sweepstakes and also has a game that is supposed to put you in the position of helping Ronny navigate the situation he’s in. In addition to that there videos, photos and updates as to the talents publicity efforts.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A lot of TV advertising was done, much of which focused primarily on Vaughn. A lot of the spots showed the same setup of the two guys pitching their car technology, then transitioning over to Vaughn finding out about Nick’s wife and trying to find out the truth. They’re good spots that retain the same spirit and tone as the trailers but the already frantic pace of those trailers is only increased by the shortened running time commercials allow for.

There also appeared to be lots of outdoor advertising done using the same artwork that was featured on the poster. Of course many people couldn’t help but point out that this artwork featured plenty of post-production work, which it very much did.

Media and Publicity

The first bit of coverage for the movie outside of reports of it shooting in and around Chicago was when the first still debuted (USA Today, 8/20/10), something that may seem silly for a movie like this but which was still covered extensively.

Aside from a brief bit of questioning about why the movie was being released in January (Los Angeles Times, 10/6/10), which the studio explained as being the result of January no longer having the “dumping ground” stigma to it, the next bit of publicity for the movie was not very good.

Despite the fact that the first trailer had been out for almost a month prior to this, Anderson Cooper raised a bit of a firestorm (LAT, 10/8/10)when, during an appearance on “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” he decried the use of the word “gay” in a derogatory or disparaging way. That led the studio to announce it was pulling that first trailer and releasing a new one, though it stressed that the release of a second version was planned all along for this time and had nothing to do with the controversy.

Indeed the incident blew up in to a full-fledged crisis in a very short period after that first report, resulting in discussions of the use of such jokes (LAT, 10/12/10) and statements from GLAAD that it too was offended (Hollywood Reporter, 10/11/10), though it’s initial silence was simply because it was already negotiating with Universal and didn’t want to go public since they felt a solution was coming. Part of the uproar to be sure had a lot to do with the fact that there were some true tragedies involving homosexual teens in the news just prior to this, so it hit the media at a particularly sensitive moment.

All that sort of culminated in a story (LAT, 10/30/10) that had Howard himself defending the decision to keep the joke in the movie but also making some important points about how society can’t both self-censor everything that might possibly offend someone, especially when it comes to humor, and how some things need to be read on a situation-by-situation basis.


I’m not sure what to make of this. The campaign certainly sells the movie as a relatively light-hearted good time with a couple of charming comedians that will do their best to sell the material they’ve been given. But there are some definite parts to the marketing that just don’t work, including the poster that shows the two leads in heavily altered forms. The controversy over the first trailer certainly worked to keep people talking about the movie but not in a great manner and considering that wound up dominating the coverage that didn’t allow for a lot of other stories to be told.

The thing the movie – and its marketing – has going for it is that it’s January and audiences may be looking for entertainment options that aren’t quite as heavy as what they’ve been given in the last couple months. Because this is aimed at adults it might not suffer the same fate as Gulliver’s Travels, which tried to bring in families, and go on to be a modest success unless the word-of-mouth that comes out of opening weekend absolutely kills whatever prospects it might have had.

No Predictions Here

For whatever reason I have a deep dislike for making predictions. I don’t mind that others go ahead and engage in their own speculation (I know, my affirmation means a ton to them) but as for myself I just don’t see the need to prove that I’m not sure what’s coming down road in the next 12 months. I could probably make some intelligent guesses but that’s all their going to be: guesses.

Instead what I – and everyone I work with and the other smart folks I know – will be doing is keeping our ears to the ground throughout the year to make sure that if there’s something percolating that will be of use on a client program we know about it, have vetted it and know exactly what to do with it.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Green Hornet

What makes a hero? It’s not powers, it’s not a fancy costume and it’s a cool collection of gadgets. While those certainly help with a hero’s quest – whatever it is – they’re not essential. What is, though, is a desire to help others and put one’s one health and well-being on the line in attempt to do just that.

The hero genre is filled with characters who didn’t get bitten by a radioactive spider, get exposed to cosmic rays or have some other incredible event that then gave them great powers that also came with great responsibilities. Examples are prevalent in much of mythology as well as in characters such as The Lone Ranger and others who simply took matters into their own hands without any extraordinary circumstances helping them out. In recent years this idea – of ordinary people taking up masks and acting as vigilantes – has come to be used by those wishing to deconstruct the super hero mythos. But occasionally it still gets played straight.

One such instance is the new feature film version of The Green Hornet. Based on the character that originated in a radio series and later was translated to film serials, comics and TV, this big-screen incarnation stars Seth Rogen as Britt Reid, the son of a crusading newspaper editor who is gunned-down by the criminal empire of Los Angeles. Vowing revenge, Reid enlists the help of his late father’s right-hand man Kato (Jay Chou) in not only helping to bring down those responsible but also in crafting an identity that allows him to do so. Eventually they come to enlist the help of his secretary (Cameron Diaz) as the Green Hornet seeks to restore some justice to the city. The movie is, incredibly enough, directed by Michel Gondry, who’s known more for his mind-bending thought experiments than mainstream action fare.

The Posters

The movie’s first official poster puts the emphasis on the car, which is the primary object in the teaser image’s design. Kato and the Hornet are walking along each side of the car, but you can’t see their faces as the camera is looking from the top down at the scene. The poster’s most cool component is the way the Green Hornet’s symbol appears in the car’s headlights.

The second poster was pretty standard as far as action movies are concerned. We primarily, again, see the car as the featured element while the actors take a figurative back seat. While the Hornet is seen rushing toward us with its machine guns blazing it’s only because we know Rogen is in the movie that we’re able to identify the figure riding shotgun as him. It’s not that it’s a bad poster – it’s very slick and well designed – it’s just that it hits a number of cliched elements and sells the movie as a straight action flick. That may be because the humor of the trailers was so poorly received that they decided not to even try here but it’s noticeable if you’re at all familiar with the movie’s production.

A third poster put the emphasis more on the actors by bringing them out in front of the car. Both of them are striding toward the camera, with the car’s headlights behind them, looking purposeful and ready for action. There’s not a ton of design here, but it gets a simple point across in a relatively non-offensive manner.

The Trailers

The first trailer does a good job of setting up the movie, especially the title character played by Rogen. The spot opens with him partying it up with booze and women everywhere, a lifestyle which is looked down upon by his father, a newspaper editor dedicated to exposing the corruption in their city. When his father is found dead Reid realizes he’s done nothing with his life and so enlists his father’s confidant Kato in beginning a more direct war he wants to wage on the criminal empire in the city.

While the trailer is filled with plenty of stunts, action sequences and special effects the real strength, believe it or not, is in the form of Rogen. His casting in the movie was seen as odd at the time but seeing the first bit of footage it becomes clear that his slacker attitude and delivery kind of fit perfectly not only the hedonistic playboy he starts out as but then as the determined hero he aspires to be. This isn’t the grim Batman, which requires metric tons of gravitas to portray. It’s someone who is trying to do something worthwhile with his life but who is still kind of a goofball, or at least someone who realizes that outside the costume his reputation is what it is. This is somewhat of a stretch for Rogen but not so much as to make the audience feel unfamiliar with his previously built public persona. Here instead of being the slacking stoner he’s the slacking stoner who tries to atone for his previous actions.

The next trailer starts out once again by showing us the hedonistic lifestyle that Britt Reid is leading prior to his father’s death. But when he meets Kato he becomes convinced they need to work together to fight crime, something the city’s crime lords take issue with. From there snout we get a nice mix of action and humor as the pair navigate their real lives while also fighting crime by night. It doesn’t add much to what the previous trailer showed (other than a funny coda to the scene where Rogen knocks himself out with a gas gun) but is tightly paced and works pretty well.


The splash page of the movie’s official website is filled with prompts to engage on the mobile device of your choosing. You can download the Wheels of Justice game for iPhone, get the Crime Fighter app for Android devices or, after downloading a WiMO app, scan an image to unlock exclusive content on your mobile phone.

Entering the site you get those same options along with a prompt to “Build & Battle,” a game that lets you custom build your own Black Beauty and then battle with your Facebook friends.

Accessing the main navigation menu, the first section there is “About,” which just has fairly decent Synopsis of the movie’s story. After that is “Images” has a dozen stills from the film.

“Cast & Crew” is kind of sad, with just a photo and a “So and so is…this character” for each actor and then just a credit block for the filmmakers. Nothing in the way of longer bio or anything…just a photo, their name and the character’s name.

There are six Buddy Icons and seven Wallpapers in the “Downloads” section.

“Videos” has the Teaser and Theatrical trailers, three TV Spots and video promotions for the two mobile apps that were previously mentioned.

There’s some cool stuff in “Features”: A 3D image of the Black Beauty, a Visual Synopsis that used comic-like images to recreate the lead-in to the story and more.

“Games” just has the Build & Battle link as well as an online version of the Crime Fighter tame. All the mobile things are in the “Mobile” section.

There’s a Tumblr blog that’s been setup up that has kept things up to date regarding publicity appearances and news stories.

Finally there are “3D Cards” that can be viewed with glasses obtained at various appearances on the Black Beauty’s publicity tour (more on that later) and “Comics” has information on buying the new Dynamite Comics series with the character.

The movie’s Facebook page has the same sort of updates as the Tumblr blog as well as photos, videos and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Plenty of TV spots were produced and run that laid out the film’s story in a way similar to the trailers did by running through how Britt Reid’s father has been killed and how that spurs him to begin fighting crime, enlisting Kato in that effort and eventually getting all sorts of cool gadgets with which to kick butt. They’re fast paced and funny and do a good job of selling the movie to the audience as a humorous action flick.

One of the first promotional partners announced (MediaPost, 10/8/10) for the movie was Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s, which included everything from co-branded TV spots starring Rogen and Chou to an online sweepstakes that awarded a grand-prize winner a drivable replica of The Black Beauty. There were also the usual in-store promotions such as branded beverage cups and kid’s meal goodies.

There was also an iPhone/iPad “Wheels of Justice” app that allowed players to get behind the wheel of The Black Beauty and cruise the streets of the city dealing with criminals as they came up. Also in the mobile realm was a promotion that let people view 3D content on their mobile devices after they scanned the Green Hornet logo with those devices. That was run in conjunction with a tour of the Black Beauty to theaters across the country.

Players of the Facebook game Mafia Wars were able to collect Green Hornet-related items throughout the game and, after gathering them all, unlocked the Black Beauty to use.

Media and Publicity

Outside of the casting news and rumors that circulated, the first major round of publicity for the film came at the 2009 Comic-Con, where the studio unveiled the ’66 Impala that would serve as the Hornet’s car in the movie. There was also a panel appearance by the primary cast members and director Gondry that went a long way to making clear who everyone was playing and what their roles within the film were going to be.

The selection of Gondry and Rogen, both outsiders to the comic action movie genre, made it easy for people (especially movie blog writers) to believe rumors that Sony executives were profoundly unhappy with what they had seen of the film during production. The rumors were spread so fast and authoritatively that the studio had to step up and deny them. Regardless of the truth of the matter, this was the first time people had been talking about the movie in any manner in quite a few months, making the lack of other buzz actually more worrying than any studio displeasure, which at least has the potential to be read as the movie being so good they don’t get it.

Those rumors probably weren’t helped any by the news shortly thereafter that the movie was being moved to mid-January 2011. While the announcement was played off as being necessary because the movie was being converted into 3D, mid-January is traditionally a dead-zone at the box-office.

Things picked up a bit during the 2010 Licensing Expo, where some of the first promotional art was seen, including an early look at the movie’s teaser poster as well as the action figures that were being produced to tie in to the film. Shortly after that came news that the first trailer would be debuting in coming weeks during an episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

The Black Beauty got a little bit of press (USA Today, 6/24/10) in the wake of the trailer’s debut, only fitting since it gets a good bit of screentime in that trailer.

Part of the movie’s presence at Comic-Con 2010 included Britt Reid’s Garage, an off-site location featuring The Black Beauty and other cars from the movie as well as costumes and other gadgets. There was also a panel presentation (Los Angeles Times, 7/23/10) with the stars of the film that featured an extended bit of footage, a presentation that unfortunately was greeted with less than enthusiastic responses from the crowd, who reportedly still seemed confused as to what kind of movie they were going to be getting.

That Comic-Con appearance also kicked off the next stage of press around the movie, beginning with a story that recounts the many struggles Rogen has come up against (Los Angeles Times, 7/23/10) in his four years of trying to get his vision of the movie made.

The movie’s publicity tour included a stop at the first episode of Conan O’Brien’s new show on TBS, which brought the movie to a new audience. That came shortly before the movie’s first test screening, which reportedly (LAT, 11/10/10) went so well that it marked a shift in the movies’ buzz, though the groups that originally were so eager to jump on the “it’s a disaster” bandwagon weren’t immediately convinced things had turned around.

Rogen made an appearance on the popular show “Mythbusters” on an episode where he helped the debunkers take apart a couple of scenes from the movie and see what would happen without the help of Hollywood.

Part of the car’s publicity tour even took it to CES 2011, where it was part of the general Sony presence, specifically there to showcase the company’s 3D initiatives.

There were also recaps of the history of the character (New York Times, 1/9/11) and how it has evolved in the 70-some years since its creation as well as the lengthy development history of the feature film version.


There are two notable things about the campaign that need to be called out:

First, there’s the heavy emphasis on the car. Almost everything in both the marketing and publicity is in some manner focused on the Black Beauty, from the way it’s the central component on the posters to the way it was taken around on a tour of theaters and other events. The actors were included only when they absolutely needed to be and mostly in support of the car. That’s not to say they were excluded completely – Rogen is still a sizable movie star – but mostly people were being attracted to the movie based on wanting to see a really cool car.

The other is the way there was a palpable shift in the tone of the word-of-mouth that was circling the movie after the debut of the the theatrical trailer. Where before people were at best skeptical and at worst outright cynical about the movie’s prospects – largely because of the rumors about reshoots and other production troubles but also for other reasons – all of a sudden the attitude seemed to shift and people began to take the movie seriously.

Those two points aside there’s some good stuff here – I actually really like the playful attitude it takes toward the “millionaire vigilante and think the trailer and some of the other materials support it quite well – and some bad – the website doesn’t seem to have been given short shrift – but the publicity has been putting on a great charm offensive and covers over quite a few of those holes.


  • 01/12/11: Christopher Campbell at Spout picks up on the fact that there’s an email address that’s seen throughout the film that hasn’t been used at all as part of the marketing but which could have been part of a fairly cool effort to get people engaging with the film.
  • 01/14/11: Maybe it was just me, but I didn’t find the film’s marketing as confusing as some people did, with some articles assuring Rogen that it wasn’t his fault that the studio couldn’t find a consistent tone for the campaign.

The way they were meant to be seen

For Christmas I got from my family the most recent DVD set of the original Star Wars trilogy. I know…you’re probably thinking I should have waited for the recently announced Blu-ray editions, but I wanted that set (I already had the original DVDs from 2004) because they contained not only the heavily altered Special Editions but also the original theatrical versions of each movie. The ones where Han shoots first, the old Anakin appears in ghost form and so on.

It was the first time I’ve watched the original versions in years. I had a VHS set from the late 80’s and then got the THX-enhanced tapes in ’95 (the first time I’d seen them in widescreen format since their theatrical runs) as well as the VHS of the Special Editions from 1998 or so. But we got rid of our tape player years ago and, along with it, most all video tapes.

Watching the originals without all the added effects and scenes was really great and, in some ways, brought me back to the feeling I had about the original trilogy a lot more – a surprising bit more – than watching the Special Editions ever had. These were the movies I grew up with. The ones that were my go-to watching choices when I was sick from school.

While I’ve spent more than enough on buying and rebuying them this was really worth it. The Special Editions are fine – I don’t hate them (or the prequels) with the intensity of some people – but now I have both versions and can make my choice as to what to watch.


The Bears are opening the post-season this coming weekend with a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. I’m considering making one of those “mayor’s bets” with Tom Biro. If the Seahawks win he has to stop taking pictures of himself in Starbucks everyday.. If the Bears win I get to make him stop taking pictures of himself in Starbucks everyday.