Movie Article

Sleight of Ad

A new crop of movie promos bends the truth -- We look at the unique marketing campaigns for ''Cinderella Man,'' ''Rent,'' and others

Not for nothing is Hollywood known as the land of make-believe. As the race for Oscar heats up, studio marketing departments are actively wielding their creative licenses. Take the campaign for the rerelease of Universal's Cinderella Man. The television advertisements boast that the $61.6 million-grossing Russell Crowe-Renée Zellweger film is ''the highest-grossing drama of the year.'' Which is totally true — if you discount Coach Carter ($67.3 million), The Interpreter ($72.5 million), and Flightplan ($86.7 million). (Universal refused comment.) As an aside, is box office really the big thing to tout, especially when it was iffy enough that some theaters even tried a love-it-or-your-money-back gimmick last summer? Why not boast instead about the unanimously glowing reviews?

Some moviegoers might also be surprised when the lights go down in showings of Rent and The Producers to find that they're watching a musical. Both theatrical trailers for these screen adaptations of Broadway blockbusters feature few shots of the cast singing or dancing in character — a bait-and-switch ploy that worked wonders at the box office for Miramax's initial campaign for the $170.7 million-grossing Academy Award-winning Chicago. ''The thing is that not everybody wants to see a musical,'' says Tom Sherak, a partner at Revolution Studios, which made Rent. ''Music is a device that takes you through the story. We try to express all that in a way that will lure in an audience.'' Well, all we can say is, King Kong still better be about a big monkey.

Originally posted Nov 18, 2005 Published in issue #851 Nov 25, 2005 Order article reprints
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