Studios are coming clean
June 21, 2001 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Studios are coming clean about TV testimonials consisting of actors. Messy quote: according to the Washington Post. Universal did so for U-571 TV spots, as did Artisan for Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and 20th Century Fox for Anna and the King. No! Not for Blair Witch 2!!!
posted by skallas (15 comments total)
"Battlefield Earth is the feel good, date movie, hardcore action, suspense, sci-fi, Star Wars of the Millenium, movie of the decade"
posted by Brilliantcrank at 10:03 AM on June 21, 2001

"I loved it. It was better than Cats. I want to see it again and again."
posted by RylandDotNet at 10:06 AM on June 21, 2001

I am shocked. No way did I think for a second that those ads were possibly actors.
posted by norm at 10:18 AM on June 21, 2001

ouch. another shot at blair witch 2.

slings and arrows.... slings and arrows...
posted by jcterminal at 10:20 AM on June 21, 2001

"Oh, my God! It's the date movie of the year!"

"CUT! Donna, get with it. This is the promo for Cheerleader Neurosurgeons. We're doing the Moulin Rouge promo tomorrow."

"Oh, man. I'm sorry."

"Speed! Action!"

"Oh, my God! It's the wank movie of the year!"
posted by Skot at 10:22 AM on June 21, 2001


and it doesn't work. who goes to a movie because they see an ad with happy people in it?

people I know go to a film based on the trailers, the actor/director, an endorsement from a film critic they trust, or on the recommendation of their acquaintances and friends.

this whole thing just cracks me up so bad. - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 10:34 AM on June 21, 2001

and it doesn't work. who goes to a movie because they see an ad with happy people in it?

This has come up a few times, especially in the whole David Manning discussion. Who buys "Happy Fun Balls" because someone says "It's Happy. It's FUN"? Advertising doesn't work that way. It's not as direct as that. You, rebecca, may study the reviews and the cast of actors and directors to find a movie you like, but in general "I loved it! I can't wait to see it again!" sticks in the back of the average joe's (or jill's) mind. When Friday night comes, and someone suggests a particular movie, it's "Oh, I heard good things about that one." If it didn't put asses in seats, the studios wouldn't do it.
posted by jpoulos at 10:52 AM on June 21, 2001

Advertising creates a fun, jovial general atmosphere for the consumer. You may not even remember specifically hearing people saying good things about the movie--because then it might jog your mind that it was just the commercial, you'll just associate it with FUN.
posted by brucec at 11:03 AM on June 21, 2001

jpoulos said "If it didn't put asses in seats, the studios wouldn't do it."

While that might seem to make sense, let me remind you how non-logical the movie industry is with their "marketing." Most of the movies the major studios make are loss leaders and only a handful each year are massive homeruns and make the studios money. Year-to-year, it's never clear if a studio will be profitable or not. They are really pretty poor businesses in terms of raw profit/loss numbers. They're powerful because people (customers) care about celebrities and professional media (TV, movies, etc.) disproportionately to the industry's financial impact.

My point is that there isn't much logic (certainly little financial logic) to "person-in-the-street" interviews to support movie marketing. I think it's more of the "we've been doing it for a long time so it's in the budget" more than anything else.
posted by gen at 11:31 AM on June 21, 2001

This is exactly what I mean about how movie studios still can't predict the financial returns on their "investments."

Movies and the movie industry are like the shiny metal foil that farmers use to scare away crows from crops. You get distracted from the central issue (the money) by the shiny, fluttering objects (stars and "Hollywood hype .") In the end, the movie business is a pretty poor business to be in by itself. As a marketing platform however, for businesses that sell a lot of other stuff (i.e. any of the owners of the majors) movie studios end up driving traffic to other media and other products and services such that they are a decent investment over a longer period.

Don't lose sight of the money- always follow the cash ;)
posted by gen at 11:41 AM on June 21, 2001

jpoulos said "If it didn't put asses in seats, the studios wouldn't do it."

Its the disingenuousness of the whole situation that could be interpreted as false advertising. So what if their ads are ineffective? Notice those fake testimonials about some very snake oil-ish products on late night TV, they always have one or more disclaimers just to cover their asses. Big Business just has bigger balls.
posted by skallas at 11:44 AM on June 21, 2001

The irony of the "man-on-the-street" testimonials -- usually they're couples or groups, you may note, to emphasize that going to the movies is fun -- is that they are directly aimed at the people who distrust critics, either for assumed elitism or cronyism.

Rebecca, those of us in the Skeptikal Elite may sneer at such ads, but the movie industry today is all about momentum. Anything to give a movie legs is kosher. The industry looks at those key summer weekends and hopes, prays, that they are able to get millions into their film and snag the #1 spot and keep the numbers from falling more than about 27% each week. (Ask Gitesh.) Once their movie reaches the consumer zeitgeist ... has its own buzz ... they're golden, because that multiplies the value of every ad impression they pay for. Testimonials are considered a way to suggest in the public mind that there is buzz, that people like them are talking excitedly about this movie. (And don't forget -- though I can't find that thread right now -- about how easy it can be to implant false memories, like having met Bugs Bunny at *cough* Disneyland.)
posted by dhartung at 2:15 PM on June 21, 2001

Someone once pointed out that if any other business functioned the way the major studios do, with their creative accounting, fuzzyheaded decision making processes (For God's sake, they just kept making Pauly Shore films as if the man had evidence of serious crimes they'd committed) and berserk spending, they would go out of business.

Unless they were a defense contractor.
posted by Ezrael at 4:32 PM on June 21, 2001

ACK! Sorry bad link here's the real When I Grow Up
posted by drezdn at 9:35 AM on June 22, 2001

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