MOVIE MARKETING MADNESS: THE WEDDING DATE

I have to admit to finding Debra Messing mildly amusing. It’s not so much on display on “Will & Grace”, where she only gets to be funny when it won’t attract attention from the two main characters whose names are not part of the title, but I do think she’s funny in an almost Lucille Ball sort of way. Anyone remember the sitcom she was on before, “Ned & Stacy”, with Thomas Haden-Church (now getting much press for his role in “Sideways”)? No? Alright, it’s just me.

So for only the second time I dive into a romantic comedy that looks to be made of discarded leftovers from the scripts for “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “My Best Friends’s Wedding”. Oh well.

The Poster

The picture they used of stars Messing and Dermot Mulroney I think was a good choice. It’s clearly them (even if people look at Mulroney and are only to identify him as “Oh, yeah – that guy”) but doesn’t have them staring straight at the viewer. Neither is a big enough star to warrant instant name recognition and this poster doesn’t pretend they do. It does a nice job of establishing the tone (playful) and the setting (wedding). Pretty effective from my perspective (on top a tree somewhere in South America and on the run from a pack of Vermicious Knids).

The Trailer

The plot is pretty predictable but that’s what the audience is looking for, right? Nobody’s coming to this one hoping to learn more about themselves or discover some sort of universal truth. They’re looking to be entertained and this trailer will hook them and reel them in. The basic plot of Messing not having a date to her sister’s wedding and hiring Mulroney is laid out and we’re shown some of the more broad humor in the flick, which may be representative of the movie as a whole or not. I’m more a fan of word-play as opposed to slapstick so I hope not.

The Website

When you visit the site there’s initially an introduction with some still images playing under dialogue lifted straight from the trailer, and not even the best dialogue. The entire site is very slick and, I don’t know, pretty. (Can’t believe that’s the best I can come up with.) There’s a champagne/wedding theme throughout, with most of the navigation being centered around five of six champagne flutes.

“The Movie” contains a brief synopsis of The Story, a Photo Gallery (containing about ten pictures) and Production Notes. The Prod. Notes are broken down into Production Info and About the Production. I’m always amazed at how seriously these toss-off movies are taken. Studio marketers obviously feel the only way to sell these crème puff type flicks is to make them sound like they took the blood, sweat and tears of everyone involved and that the story of a woman paying a man to be her date is deeply personal and moving when the rest of us are just reminded of Dan Ackroyd playing Fred Garvin: Male Prostitute.

The trailer, two TV spots and some clips which aren’t on the site yet can be found in “Media”. I thought the TV spots were far inferior to the trailer. The increased time and space the longer trailer allows for actually seemed to make the movie far more appealing than the short form commercials. I’m not saying I’m completely on board for this movie and ready for it take a place on my “Must See” list, but the trailer allowed for more setup of the premise. You can also find a selection of three E-Cards to send here but the stills that they used for these have got to be three of the most inane frames from the movie. They’re not memorable or especially cute, just kind of ridiculous.

You’ll find the usual assortment of wallpaper, AIM icons and a screensaver in “Downloads” and “Bios” has profiles of the actors and filmmakers. Nothing too exciting here as these are becoming pretty standard on all websites.

There is a section labeled “Special Features” and contains two games for lack of a better word. The first is “Wedding Etiquette”. It’s essentially a quiz where you are asked which one of four outrageous sounding wedding traditions actually exists somewhere in the world. I have a couple problems here: 1) If you choose wrongly you are not given the correct answer and 2) The game should more accurately be labeled “You’re An Ignorant American”, but why quibble. The second special feature enables the visitor to create the “Perfect Date”, combining various traits into what you consider the perfect man. I didn’t play this game because, quite frankly, I don’t feel like crossing certain lines. That’s just me.

Overall

I really like the poster and feel the trailer was effective at what it’s trying to do, which is appeal to women and suburbanites who may be depressed after two months of movies vying for Academy Awards. This is the wafer-thin mint after a period of heavy dining that most mainstream moviegoers have been waiting for if they were turned off by the commercials for “Elektra” or “Are We There Yet?”. As always, though, beware that final mint.

I’m not saying this looks like a great movie but what I do think is that it’s a mediocre movie marketed fairly well. I would have preferred to see more British type humor in the trailer (especially since the cast includes Jack Davenport, who played Steve on the BBC’s “Coupling”) but that’s just nit-picky personal taste stuff.

As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Movie Marketing Madness blog.




Posted on February 3, 2005 in Features by
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