MOVIE MARKETING MADNESS: “CATWOMAN”

DC Comics has been struggling lately with bringing their comic book characters to life on the big screen. It’s an ironic position since the publisher is owned by Time-Warner and therefore, theoretically, has a direct pipeline to the movie going public. It also comes at a time when its chief rival, Marvel, has been hitting nothing but triples and home runs by farming out their characters to a half-dozen different studios.

So while they try to iron out the seemingly infinite number of problems getting a new Superman movie off the ground (Haaa!) and before the upcoming resurrection of the Batman franchise, they give us “Catwoman”. The character was introduced in 1992’s “Batman Returns” and is now being given her own vehicle but this time with Halle Berry taking over for Michelle Pfieffer. Not only is the actress different, but so is the character (I’m not well versed in the continuity of the DC universe so don’t ask) and the costume, which dispenses with all that annoying material that usually connects the parts covering various naughty bits. If fact, those naughty bits are barely covered, but that’s the subject of a completely different column.

The Trailers

The teaser trailer does a very good job of teasing the ideas behind the movie. There is a little bit of text alluding to the transformation Berry’s character will undergo, a few shots of Berry herself both before and after becoming Catwoman and, most importantly, a few shots of the costume.

The theatrical trailer goes a bit further, still playing up the story but devoting more screen time to Berry as well as co-stars Benjamin Bratt and Sharon Stone, who is probably aching for a career doing something other than attending the premieres of other peoples’ movies at this point. Without a hit movie soon Sharon Stone is about one year away from the next iteration of “Celebrity Mole”.

The Poster

Here’s where I just couldn’t keep a straight face. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. I don’t care how hot Halle Berry may be, the costume is ridiculous in a still picture. This is what caused millions of fanboys and girls to simultaneously utter, “Are you kidding me?” when shots were first released to the public. When the wearer of the costume isn’t moving around it may as well be Ernest Borgnine wearing it (and there’s todays fun mental image. I can almost hear people shutting down their PCs after reading that).

Anyway, the poster simply features Berry looking like she’s crouching or straddling something and may shatter ESPN columnist Bill Simmons’ “Unintentional Comedy Scale”.

As an aside, how much do you think Halle Berry being pissed that Storm wasn’t the main character in the X-Men movies had to do with her taking this role? I have to believe she purposely accepted the title role in a rival’s comic adaptation on some level simply to stick it to Bryan Singer, Hugh Jackman and the others who pushed Storm into the background.

The Website

Despite every instinct in my body saying the movie will be a disaster, the website is actually fairly well put together. A very nice and slick cats-eye graphic comes up when switching between sections of the site. I only wish they had incorporated this graphic into the trailers or perhaps a teaser poster a little more instead of pouring all the focus on Halle Berry.

“Media” contains the usual assortment of trailers, a production sketchbook and a photo gallery. One nice touch in the photo gallery is the ability to zoom in on a picture and, by grabbing the picture with your mouse, move it around in the frame. Of course that could lead to (unintentionally of course) repositioning a photo and zooming in on Halle Berry’s boobies. Again, though, this was entirely an accident. Really. Come on, sweetheart, I didn’t mean to. Really, you’re the only one for me.

Moving on, there are fairly good story synopses and production notes in the “About the Film” section. For once these recaps don’t seem to have been written by (and for) mentally challenged orangutans. “Cast and Filmmakers” leads you to short bios for the major cast and crew, including Pitof, the director. I’m struggling for a joke based on that name but they all seem so easy I’m just going to let it go. There’s also a pretty standard “Game” you can play on line which is just a Catwoman variation on the right-scrolling shoot something/someone and keep moving concept.

“Downloads” lets you put Halle Berry on your desktop (but not the way some of you out there would like) in the form of wallpapers, screensaver, AOL IM icons (since this is of course a Time-Warner film) and, in a unique touch, a media player skin.

Occasionally a little black cat will come running across your screen. Click on the cat (as opposed to pounding it against the wall as Eric Idle comes by to collect the dead) and you get a new window where you can download desktop wallpaper. Cool concept, but I wish they had done something more original with it.

Overall

As I stated above, I really think they should have incorporated the cats-eye from the website into more aspects of the campaign. Creating an instantly recognizable logo is an important part of branding a product and this is a good one. As it stands the campaign does a nice job of displaying Halle Berry and that’s what they needed to do. There is a dark mysterious edge to the trailers that unfortunately is completely shot to hell by the poster. If they had worked a little harder to bring that same sense of danger to that part of the campaign it would have seemed a little more nicely rounded out to me.

With that darker more gritty edge they are attempting to bring in the guys out there who may otherwise see this as a chick-flick, albeit one with Halle Berry kicking Sharon Stone into a wall (my favorite shot from the trailer). Guys may want to see the hottie in the nine-square inches of torn leather but they have almost an allergic reaction to the female empowerment genre. Making it look good is half the battle for the studio to reach this audience and, I feel, they succeeded everywhere but in the poster.




Posted on July 21, 2004 in Features by

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