MOVIE MARKETING MADNESS: THE LONGEST YARD

Where is the outrage? Where is the sense of wrong being done? Where are the tribunals and where, quite frankly, are the angry mobs?

I’m speaking, of course of the career of Adam Sandler. No single man has done so much to betray the covenant created between filmmaker and filmgoer in the early years of movie making as this deranged man-child. His films (if they can be called that) are a plague, an infestation that should by all rights be stomped out and never heard from again. We can’t really shift the blame for his popularity to Lorne Michaels, who cast him for Saturday Night Live all those years ago, any more than we can blame Qui-Gon Jinn for Anakin Skywalker’s eventual downfall. Yes, he may have plucked him from obscurity but he was out of the picture before the real tragedy occurred.

Once again, Sandler mugs for the camera and acts like an ass, this time in a remake of the iconic Burt Reynolds film “The Longest Yard.” Apparently studio executives weren’t aware it had already been remade, if in loose fashion as “Necessary Roughness.”

The Trailers

The trailers set up the basic plot and lets us know we’re in for a series of racial and physical stereotype jokes, complete with Chris Rock (what the hell?) making jokes about being picked after the white kid and such. Reynolds appears in the film as well in what a studio casting executive no doubt felt was a casting coup.

There’s no real difference between the two trailers available except that the second one also includes a few shots of Courtney Cox (no doubt missing that regular “Friends” paycheck. It also shows that Sandler wound up in prison because of a DUI. If drunk driving doesn’t say “comedy goldmine” to you I don’t know what will.

The Poster

Oh there are so many posters but all of them suck. There’s one theatrical poster that shows all the characters with Sandler experiencing a bad case of white man’s overbite front and center. The rest are all character specific so we can be reminded of what Chris Rock looks like. It’s one thing to do these ego-padding one-sheets when the movie being promoted is costume heavy, a comic adaptation (like Sin City) or an animated flick (like Shark Tale). But when the actors all appear in, basically, street clothes and haven’t had their looks altered by some sort of special effect then these really are pointless. The only reason for them is to give theater managers desperate to fill poster cases a few more options.

The Website

The look and feel of the website is designed around the penitentiary concept, so all the content is lumped into various parts of the prison. Using the setting of a movie as the conceit for website navigation seems to me like a no-brainer but it eludes many studios and the web designers they employ.

We start our stint in the “Training Camp”, which houses the video features. Included here are the trailers, a TV spot, webisodes of behind the scenes footage and some video clips. Almost all the video clips are taken straight from the trailers so that’s not really an exciting feature. Also here are two photo galleries, one containing stills from the movie and the other some behind the scenes shots.

“Solitary” lets the visitor do some futzing of his or her own. The Face Painter Gallery lets you put tattoos and other markings on the face of one of the characters from the film. This is exactly as much fun as it sounds like. There’s also the usual selection of screensavers, wallpapers and other icons to be downloaded and passed along to your friends.

The “Prison Yard” is where you go to get some exercise and play a few games. Included here are the Quarterback Challenge which plays like every other game on the net by this name. Break the Nose lets you punch a guy until you break his nose and Jail Ball is a basketball game. Finally “Anal Raping” puts you in the prison shower where you must decide whether to be a bitch or a butch to the newbie in the prison. Either break his will and claim him as your own or watch as he as well as yourself become the sex toys to the bull queers in the system. The graphics on this one are really the best of the bunch and will leave you with quite the mental image.

Some of that may have been made up.

“Guard Tower” is a list of promotions related to the movie which, as of this writing, total one, that being the release of the original movie on DVD. “Warden’s Office” contains cast and crew bios as well as Production Notes and “Get on the Team” is fancy for “Registration.”

Overall

Adam Sandler is in this movie. He makes wise-cracks. (Repeat this 128,000 times.)

That’s pretty much the goal of this campaign. To let people know there is a new Adam Sandler movie. You could have called it “The Longest Yard,” you could have called it “Slappy McGuire,” you could have called it anything you want but that’s how it’s going to get promoted. End of story.

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 May 25, 2005 in Features by

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