Tuesday, September 06, 2005


$200 Million Commercials

Does anyone, besides me, feel that many films have become nothing more than commercials for what USED to be ancillary markets? Back in the day, a film would be released, build an audience, become a phenomenon and THEN the products and the licensing would follow. In 1977, Star Wars became a hit BEFORE we saw the lunch boxes, action figures, novelizations, posters and under-roos. Same was true for E.T. The Extraterrestrial and Rocky and James Bond and numerous Disney favorites. But today, the film sometimes seems like the least important piece of the puzzle. The deals with McDonald's, Burger King or Wendy's are all in place, the accompanying games for PlayStation 2 or X-Box are all in stores, and licensed products -- ranging from clothing and toys, to cereal bowls and bed sheets -- are all manufactured BEFORE the film even opens!! What if it flops? Doesn't seem to matter these days. The big screen has given way to pay-per-view, DVDs and endless runs on cable. A boxoffice flop can still be a hit! Or should I say the $200 million commercial for the Happy Meal toy has a greater shelf-life these days then it used to. I would LOVE to see a return to the days when we put the horse in front of the cart and not the other way around. Must EVERY anticipated blockbuster generate lunch boxes and video games? If Hollywood is truly concerned about its ROI, how about making movie-going an experience again? Bring back the great one-screen movie palaces (where people would gladly line up around the block for HOURS to see a film). Studios, improve distribution deals with theaters so they can make some money before the sixth month of release. Exhibitors, reduce the prices of refreshments (I don't care if the soda is big enough for me to take a bath, the average family should not have to take out a second mortgage on their home to eat at the movies!!) Filmmakers, improve the movies. Give people a REASON not to use Netflix or push that pay-per-view button on the remote or to say to themselves, "I can wait until that film comes out on video." Hollywood is lameting a downturn in theater attendance? Stop making $200 million commercials to sell action figures and maybe people will WANT to return. Wouldn't it be great if going to the movies was special again? Affordable? And once more, the most thrilling work of art the world has ever known?
What do you think? Post your comments here or email me at montesano2005@aol.com. Thanks.

Yes! Let's lower the $10.75 ticket price.
Let's get rid of the commercials before the previews.
Let's get rid of the product-placement within the film. Take it easy with the pre-Oscar marketing circus. Return to filmmaking.
Treat it as art.
In America nothing is sacred anymore, everything is a potential market.
I agree with Montesano.
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