Friday, March 23, 2012

New Dark Shadows photo (and missed marketing opportunities)

There's a new-ish photo of Johnny Depp and the "Barnabas Portrait" from the new film over at the L.A. Times that underscores how WB has bungled the marketing of Dark Shadows. It's rare that ANY movie keeps as much of its contents under wraps as this movie has, and it's not because of a misguided sense of secrecy.

When this kind of thing happens, it's a safe bet that the movie is a piece of shit.That's the excuse armchair critics use, anyway, because it makes them feel smart. But movies are difficult to make, so predicting any movie is going to be a disaster is like bragging about how many fish you shot in a barrel. In the case of Dark Shadows I suspect there's a bigger, more interesting problem at play: WB doesn't know what the hell the movie is.

The studio seemed to be hedging its bets with the previous trailer, cutting random (and obviously unrelated) scenes together to create the most LOLS. I think the film will have a lot of divergent qualities, and this situation flies in the face of modern movie marketing ... which is the very definition of lowest common denominator. If you're lucky you might get an interactive viral game or some other diversion, but many of those campaigns have little or nothing to do with the quality of the final movie (see Tron Legacy.) Instead, what we get is a lot of Photoshopped posters of floating heads and lens flares, shellacked in the flop sweat of marketing department slaves who live in constant terror that THEY will be blamed when a crummy film flops.

Is the Dark Shadows trailer bad? If it's supposed to be a comedy, it's not very funny. If it's a parody, I don't know what they're poking fun at. I don't see any horror elements that demand the movie be featured on the front of Fangoria, either. Right now, the film's primary word of mouth has focused on the LACK of publicity for the film. WB has let armchair critics (like me) do their marketing for them.

I wonder how they like the job we've done so far?

And marketing this movie should have been a no brainer. Back in 1984, there was another movie that mixed genres in some very silly ways. Long before the proper marketing campaign began for that movie, theaters were displaying posters showing only a cartoon ghost and the phrase "Coming to save the world this summer." No movie title. No cast names. It was a complete mystery, but in a positive way. It was a strange film, almost unclassifiable film that went on to make quite a bit of money.

If WB had any sense at all, teaser posters of that painting you see at the top of this post should have been hanging in every theater in the country six months ago, if not earlier. The movie's period setting created endless opportunities for promoting the film. At this point, though, WB is probably just counting on Batman to save their asses again this year.

UPDATE: Tim Burton calls original Dark Shadows series "Awful." Stay classy, Tim.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Agreed. Good stuff.

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