The Studio System |


The Studio System

The big screen hits closer to home as Hollywood pushes its product online.

When is a coming attraction not a coming attraction? When the attraction already came and went. Bulging with video clips, games, and reams of production info, the publicity websites of movie studios unfortunately tend to highlight four recent releases for every genuinely new-to-theaters movie. Worse, most surfers don’t have the monster modems needed to access the bulk of this stuff. For those who’ve given up after waiting 35 minutes for the Daylight trailer to download, here’s a guide to the best (i.e., most successfully self-aggrandizing) and the worst. (Note: Movies mentioned here represent what was being flacked at press time; new promos may be available by now.)

Buena Vista (Disney)
What’s there: Blah home page, bland cookie-cutter sites for Disney’s grown-up movies like The Rich Man’s Wife, Ransom, Jack. Unintended message: We’re Disney. We don’t have to try. Corporate hubris: Are you kidding? Check out that Web address. Cool thingie: Transcript of a funny August 5th AOL chat with Robin Williams. Lame thingie: Doesn’t even link to the far superior Disney movie site (, with its massive Hunchback of Notre Dame and Toy Story areas. Useful thingie: Glossary of movie credits. D+

MGM/UA motionpictures/
What’s there: Surprisingly clever sites for undeniably lousy summer movies Fled, Kingpin, and House Arrest; placeholder promos for upcoming Touch and Larger Than Life. Unintended message: Forget using our website to promote our movies; we’re using movies to promote our website. Corporate hubris: Home page’s links to the various movie sites are impossible-to-read mini movie posters. Cool thingie: Beautifully designed Fled online game. Lame thingie: Kingpin’s links to bowling home pages. Useful thingie: ”The Tech Center” for downloading add-ons like Shockwave, RealAudio, etc. C+

What’s there: The flat-out ugliest design of any studio site; witty but sparse sites for movies like Emma and Trainspotting; super-slick ”Counter Culture” subsite that links selected movies to online articles and commentary. Unintended message: Who needs looks when you’ve got attitude? Corporate hubris: None. Surprisingly, little sign of Harvey Weinstein Hubris, either. Cool thingie: Online store offers books, scripts, and CDs; your chance to buy Luis Bunuel’s autobiography in the original French. Lame thingie: The artwork; give a spider monkey a crayon and a scanner, it’ll do a better job. Useful thingie: One-click access to MovieLink’s nationwide theater and show-time information. B-

October Films
What’s there: Beautifully designed sites for obscuro art-house films like Secrets & Lies, Cemetery Man, and Small Faces. Unintended message: Creativity beats a massive budget any day. Corporate hubris: Does not apply. Cool thingie: Cemetery Man’s 3-D pages (specs not included). Lame thingie: None. Useful thingie: Links to domestic-violence resources on the Girls Town site. A-