But which poster sells its film?
Film marketing appears to be ramping up earlier and earlier with each passing project, flooding filmgoers with a bevy of material before they even get a peek at what used to be the most straightforward of movie-selling hype - the trailer. These days, we get commercials and television spots, whole clips, teaser trailers, posters, production stills, on-set photos, and even something as flummoxing as teaser posters (a poster that teases another poster? O-kay). But despite so much pre-release noise, some of that marketing can be truly inventive and can really help pitch a film to an audience that may have known little about it beforehand. In short, it can market (what a crazy idea!).
What better example of pre-release, pared-down marketing than the movie poster? Today saw the release of new posters for two very different projects - the sure-to-be-a-blockbuster Marvel mega-film, THE AVENGERS, and Steven Soderbergh's return to mainstream cinema, outbreak flick CONTAGION. Both boast large casts (THE AVENGERS will bring together Marvel stars like Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, and newly-minted Hulk Mark Ruffalo and CONTAGION is crammed with Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, and Gwyneth Paltrow), but despite being crammed with talent, both also now have posters that place a premium on the simplicity of letters.
THE AVENGERS poster takes this emphasis to singular letters to a new level - their teaser just gives viewers that shiny Avengers "A" - and a simple call to "assemble." For fans of Marvel and their superheroes, the poster may mean much, but to anyone not knee-deep in movie news, it's not going to give them much to go on. Heck, the poster doesn't even say the film's title. Is it going to pull in new fans? I wouldn't bet on it. Is it going to thrilling existing fans? Probably not - they want pictures of their heroes, and now, not just that well-loved "A," tease or not.
The CONTAGION poster is surely more busy and packed with information, but that emphasis on single letters is still there. But this page of marketing uses those letters to wonderful effect - crisply spelling out the film's title by way of ticking down city names for municipalities we can only guess are going to end up stamped with their own "BIOHAZARD" mark. The fear of the film is there, but though this poster touts the film's viral possibilities, it doesn't lean too much on looking too real (something like DISTRICT 9 hit high notes in their marketing by mixing pieces to make their posters and bus shelters look real, while still selling the film at hand, a hard mark to hit). Don't know much about CONTAGION? Check out this poster, and now you do. A great poster that fulfills its needs - it markets, it gives you necessary information, and it looks damn slick, too.
Which one of these posters do you prefer? Which one of these films are you most excited to see?
Another Girl; Another Planet.
With her one-two punch of "Another Earth" and "Sound of My Voice," actress-writer Brit Marling had a delightful Sundance, with both the films she co-wrote playing the fest -- and both being picked up for distribution. "Another Earth" casts Marling as Rhoda, a would-be scientist whose life is shattered when she drunkenly crashes into a car -- and kills the mother and child composer John Burroughs (William Mapother) was driving home -- after she's distracted by the sudden appearance of a duplicate, planet earth hanging in the sky. Four years later, she finds John -- and the alternate earth hovers in the sky as a tantalizing suggestion that somewhere, somehow, he could still have a family and she could still have a future.
Mixing science fiction and indie drama, "Another Earth" is a striking debut -- for both Marling and director/co-writer Mike Cahill -- and a welcome respite from summertime theaters full of talking robots and singing children. We spoke with Marling in Los Angeles:
In material like 'Another Earth,' when you're writing and performing it, what's the line between science fiction and magical realism? Where do you say math ends and metaphor begins?
Marling: I'll tell you -- I'll see if this answers your question; if not, I'll try again. I feel like in America there's this weird thing where movies ... in fantasy they're completely fantastical or they're completely real, and rarely are the two braided together. I feel like it's because we don't believe in the possibility for magic in ordinary life. When you read 'Love in the Time of Cholera,' that's really grounded in reality -- and magical, extraordinary things happen. A lot of Latin American writers and a lot of Japanese writers, they're all writing about things that are grounded in a kind of realism -- the mundane, the ordinary -- but extraordinary things are happening. Kieslowski's movies: 'Double Life of Veronique,' 'Red …' -- I don't know why, traditionally speaking, American storytelling doesn't come up with that. I don't know if it's because we come from this pioneering origin where everything's very practical and it's all about the Western and shoot and destroy. Things that come from here seem to be decidedly fantastic or decidedly real, and I think Mike and Zal (Batmangli, director of 'Sound of My Voice') and I are all interested more in the braid of the two: The possibility that you and I are sitting here doing this interview, and then we're suddenly levitating. It is of the ordinary, this extraordinary stuff.
How many ways can Hollywood congratulate itself? Let’s count…
The Academy Awards presentation has a vaunted history and is certainly the leader of the pack as far as award shows go. In a field that seems to grow exponentially each year, the Oscars can still have a huge impact on the careers and box office fortunes of filmmakers across the globe. But isn’t there something a little precious about one awards show being given an award by another awards show? The 83rd Academy Awards was recently nominated for nine Emmy Awards. You heard me...NINE! Apart from the creepy statuette inbreeding, I’d just like to ask the members of the television academy one tiny little question: Did you actually watch this year’s Oscars?
There are always moments to savor at the Academy Awards, but I’d have to say that this year’s telecast was one of the worst incarnations of the show since Rob Lowe dirty-danced across the stage with Snow White. In shows as complex as the Oscars, it’s rare when you can point to a single miscalculation as the one thing responsible for utter failure, but after slogging through that three-hour debacle, I’m afraid I’d have to say that the decision to hand over hosting duties to James Franco and Anne Hathaway is what sank the ship. They weren’t the only gold-plated anvil (so many aspects of the show were shockingly bad) but they certainly made the loudest thud.
Let me quickly add that I am a big fan of both Franco and Hathaway…as actors. I think Anne Hathaway is a delight, and before the show I thought she might be the perfect host—wasn’t she fantastic a few years back on the Oscars when she burst into song with Hugh Jackman during his (very successful) hosting gig? And I was actually rooting for James Franco to win the Best Actor Oscar this year—I thought his performance in the difficult “127 Hours” was extraordinary. But, dear God, Franco’s detached, disinterested, and wholly vacant performance last February was a train wreck and only made Hathaway’s perky determination seem sad and pitiable. They reminded me of the married couple who goes to a party and the more the husband exhibits a monotone depressive anti-social demeanor, the more the wife tries to compensate with giddiness and enthusiasm. Yikes. Franco recently attempted to explain his performance as a "character" that was supposed to amusingly juxtapose with Hathaway’s bubbling personality. Um…it didn’t work.
Let’s face it, just as a country can’t thrive with ineffective leaders, just as a company can’t succeed with a lousy CEO, just as a school will never progress with an incompetent principal, the narcissism-fest known as the Oscars cannot work without a strong host. This fact was only emphasized during the broadcast when Billy Crystal appeared on stage and in 30 seconds had more control over the room than poor Anne and James were able to muster in over three hours. Crystal’s introduction of a hologram-like Bob Hope only further made our hosts seem like amateur-night intruders. I must have seen that clip of Hope opening the 1968 show a hundred times (“Welcome to the Academy Awards, or as it’s known in my house, Passover!”) and I still laughed when I heard it. Delivery kids, DELIVERY! Even when Franco came out inexplicably dressed as Marilyn Monroe, he still fell flat. True, that bit did provide his one laugh of the entire evening (“I just got three texts from Charlie Sheen!”) but Franco seemed way off from the beginning of the show to the closing credits. Maybe he’d been too busy studying for his PhD.
You know things are bad when the only moment of spontaneity in several hours was when presenter Cate Blanchett, watching the nominees for Best Make-Up Design, said “That’s gross!” after seeing the clip from “The Wolfman.” So much of the repartee between the presenters laid an egg. Why are they forced to read those wooden lines like automatons? When the announcer said that Russell Brand was next up as a presenter, I moaned in protest. “What’s HE doing there?” I grumbled. But I had to eat my words a few minutes later by admitting he was one of the best presenters of the night. His bit with Helen Mirren was actually funny, at least compared to everyone else, even though I didn’t quite get why Mirren was talking exclusively in another language. When she told him in French that he was a stupid idiot, he responded, “I’m very flattered, Dame Helen, but I’m a married now.” There were many more missteps that evening. Don’t’ even get me started on the asinine decision to stop televising the awarding of the special lifetime Oscars.
But even if the show had been raucously entertaining, does an awards show itself really need to be nominated for an award? Where will it end? Can a CD be released of the Oscars winning an Emmy and be eligible for a Grammy? And maybe that moment can be turned into a Broadway show and win a Tony? Come on, guys, the Nobel Prize Committee can’t be far behind!
Make no plans for your 2013 Martin Luther King weekend
Is he the new Danny Kaye only in his dreams?
The remake game seems to have taken over Hollywood as of late, but even the biggest of stars can have issues bringing classics back to the screen (a prime example would be the failure of Steven Spielberg to get his “Harvey” remake off the ground). But it looks as if the Danny Kaye classic, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," has been rescued from a similar fate…by Ben Stiller?
Twitch reports that Stiller, who was first attached to simply star in the remake back in April, has now added directorial duties for the film to his slate. Though Stiller is best known to audiences through his acting work (including such franchises as the “Meet the Parents” films and his family-friendly roles in the “Night at Museum” films and his voice work in the “Madagascar” series), he does have four directorial features under his belt, including ‘90s angst-fest “Reality Bites” and the only-gets-better-with-repeated-viewings “Zoolander” and “Tropic Thunder.” Which, of course, gives little indication of how Stiller plans on attacking his “Mitty” remake.
The original film was loosely adapted from James Thurber’s short story of the same name in 1947, and starred Danny Kaye as Walter Mitty, a regular guy with a predilection for living in a dream world, all the better for his pulp fiction writing exploits. But things change for Walter when one of his fantasized characters shows up in real life (it doesn’t hurt that she’s a beautiful woman, played by the dazzling Virginia Mayo, who Kaye often co-starred with). The film is a frisky mix of comedy, drama, and fantasy, topped off with some classic Kaye singing. Will Stiller craft the same mix for his “Mitty”? There’s no word as of yet on the tone Stiller wants to strike, but however he chooses to go will drive the entire production (and whether or not fans of the original will deride it or cheer it).
The remake has long been in development and, as The Playlist notes, has seen a number of high wattage talents come and go (including Ron Howard, Spielberg himself, and most recently rumors of Gore Verbinski as director, and stars like Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson, and Mike Myers in line for the titular lead). The remake does, however, have a script ready from Steve Conrad, best known for his take on “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
Stiller recently wrapped Brett Ratner’s “Tower Heist” and is soon to go to work on “Neighborhood Watch” with Vince Vaughn, so 20th Century Fox is reportedly looking to start production on “Mitty” in January of next year.
Do you have any interest in a "Mitty" remake? Let us know in the comments!
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone star in the franchise reboot
What do you think of Andrew Garfield? Is he the right man for the job? Tell us what you think in the comments below!
The pair recently completed Clint Eastwood's 'J. Edgar'
It looks as if Warner Bros. is pulling out all the stops to bring Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” to the big screen with a crack team of names behind it. According to Deadline, the studio has signed on Ron Howard to direct and Dustin Lance Black to pen the script for the film, based off of Krakauer’s 2003 non-fiction book about a pair of brothers (Ron and Dan Lafferty) who murdered their sister-in-law and infant niece, believing that God had called on them to commit the murders.
The book told the story of the crimes, along with a history of the Mormon religion. The Laffertys were former members of the School of Prophets, a Mormon “splinter group” that works under a different interpretation of the Mormon faith than the modern day Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). The book was met with a barrage of criticism from the LDS, most of which Krakauer later refuted, but the film will likely face similar controversy.
But though the story is tough one to tell, Black seems to be the perfect choice to adapt Krakauer’s book, as the Oscar-winning screenwriter has made a name for himself when it comes to handling more delicate true life stories. A former Mormon himself, Black won his first Oscar for his script for “Milk," Gus Van Sant’s film about Harvey Milk was Black’s first wide release feature, setting him up almost immediately for a high profile career. He recently wrote the script for another historical film, Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar," which Howard and his Imagine partner, Brian Grazer, produced. That Howard is reteaming with Black before that film is even released is a wonderful sign for the just-finished “J. Edgar” project. The film will hit screens on October 21.
Howard’s name alone still has marquee recognition and big-time pull around Hollywood, despite some recent missteps (see: “The Dilemma”) and this week’s news that Universal will not be making Imagine’s “The Dark Tower” adaptation for both the small and big screen. Hopefully, “Under the Banner of Heaven” will mark a return to form for the director, who is more than capable of crafting compelling fact-based dramas (one need only look to “Frost/Nixon” or “Apollo 13” for proof).
There is no word yet on when “Under the Banner of Heaven” will start production.
Will pregnant women flock to the theaters en masse?
Dennis Quaid is the latest star to join the ensemble of Lionsgate’s gestating “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” based on the bestselling nonfiction guide for new mothers. Quaid will play the much-older husband of supermodel Brooklyn Decker who discovers that he’s becoming a father again at the same time as his grown son.
The seemingly odd idea of turning a self-help guide into an ensemble comedy makes a lot of sense for Hollywood when you consider the numbers—“What to Expect” has sold over 16 million copies and spent a whopping 500 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Whether Heidi Murkoff’s frequently updated tome is beloved or hated, most first-time mothers are going to buy it or get it as a gift in the early months of their pregnancy. And guess what, folks—there are always going to be pregnant women, no matter what state the economy is in. Talk about a built-in audience! This may turn out to be the quintessential “chick flick” experience, with legions of husbands dutifully in tow. I can even imagine baby showers beginning at the local multiplex.
The film, scheduled for a 2012 release on, you guessed it, Mother’s Day weekend, also stars Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford, Elizabeth Banks, and Chris Rock, and will be directed by Kirk Jones (“Nanny McPhee”). Heather Hach wrote the original screenplay with “Whip It” writer Shauna Cross penning the final draft.
One of the earliest predecessors for mega-hit self-help books making their way to the screen was something of a goof: Woody Allen’s hilarious 1972 comedy, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)” was based on the groundbreaking book by Dr. David Reuben and featured the tagline, "If you want to know how this man made a movie out of this book...you'll have to see the movie!" A more recent nod to the genre was the 2009 release of “He’s Just Not That Into You,” from the bestselling book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (which was inspired by a line of dialogue from an episode of “Sex and the City”). The stars of that ensemble piece included Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper, and Drew Barrymore, and though the Ken Kwapis film received mixed reviews it was a commercial success, grossing over $180 million worldwide.
If “What to Expect” finds as big an audience as the book has, expect to see a rash of films based on other nonfiction titles. Producers may already be optioning classics such as “The Dance of Anger” by Harriet Lerner, “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook” by Edmund Bourne, or “Why Is It Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism” by Sandy Hotchkiss. But why limit this trend to self-help tomes? Will other nonfiction books follow suit? “Golf for Dummies?” “Let’s Go: Barcelona?” Meryl Streep starring in “Martha Stewart’s Living?”