Every Iraq-themed film has landed with a thud at the box office this fall, so it's no surprise that moviegoers have been sighing, moaning, and hissing at the trailer for Stop-Loss, the drama from Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry), out March 28.
What is surprising: In an unusual move, the studio is embracing these jeers on the film's website (stoplossmovie.com/soundoff). ''You are about to lose a lot of money,'' warns one writer. Says another: ''I am certain Stop-Loss will be lauded as a great film in the salons of Europe and by the masses in the Middle East.'' There are some positive reactions, too. ''My boyfriend and I have both [recently] served two tours,'' says one typical fan. ''The trailer moved me almost to tears.''
Providing a forum for debate before a film is released is a unique marketing ploy. But Loss, about U.S. soldiers who are ordered back into battle after their active-duty tours have ended, is a unique movie. It's the first Iraq war film aimed at twentysomethings who may have friends in the war. (No mistake that the poster screams ''MTV Films Presents'' above the title.) Peirce was out of the country and unavailable for comment, but if this strategy works, it could be a new model for promoting hot-potato projects. If it doesn't, it could be the shot that finally ends Hollywood's war campaign.