MOVIE MARKETING MADNESS: THE BROTHERS GRIMM

Anyone remember that old Peter O’Toole movie “High Spirits?” O’Toole plays the proprieter of an Irish castle turned hotel that’s about to go under. In order to draw in some visitors he enlists his staff to make the castle appear haunted not suspecting there are real ghosts that come back to interact with the American guests. It also starred Steve Guttenburg just before he started sliding down the career ladder (it was before the sequels to both “Cocoon” and “3 Men and a Baby”).

As much as I really want to look forward to “The Brothers Grimm” based almost solely on it being directed by Terry Gilliam I can’t help but think it looks too much like a retread of this late 80′s disaster. Heath Ledger and Matt Damon play the titular brothers who go from town to town claiming to vanquish ghosts and demons. In reality it’s a hoax but eventually they come upon a town actually being haunted and must rely on their wits to get out alive while not letting the townspeople, including the gorgeous Monica Belluci, down.

The Posters

I kind of like this poster, despite the fact that there’s not a whole lot to it. Ledger and Damon are front and center (though Damon is more front) showing that they’re going to be the main selling points of the movie. What I like about it is the inclusion of the business card with a corporate slogan and official logo. It’s a fun little nod to the entire point of the movie, that these guys are out for a buck.

There are also a series of character-centric one-sheets that focus on supporting characters. I don’t think they work as well for the simple reason that they look too much like something that would have been produced to market a piece of dreck like “Shrek” (heh). They play up the fairy-tale aspect of the movie and just aren’t as clever as I think whoever produced them thinks they are.

The Trailers

OK, besides “High Spirits” here are the movies that it looks like the film rips off based on the trailer: “Ghostbusters,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Casper” (the Bill Pullman and pre-anarexia Christina Ricci) and, interestingly, “The Three Amigos.” There are lots of special effects thrown at us and plenty of one-liners. What’s missing is any sense of wit and actual fun. The basic plot is setup of these two being con artists of a sort and of them stumbling upon an actual haunting, causing them to figure out how to handle real supernatural forces.

However, disappointing the theatrical trailer might be, it’s better than the TV spots. These pieces of shit present the movie as a sort of successor to craptastic movies like “The Mummy” and “Van Helsing.” There’s no sense of humor and no representation of what the movie actually will be about. Instead, it’s billed as “The final battle between good and evil.” What a piece of crap. Blatant misrepresentation of the product.

The Website

I’ve had a run of really good movie websites lately. “Pretty Persuasions” was a lot of fun and I also liked the one for “Red Eye.” I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but “Brothers Grimm” continues my run of good luck. If only the Cubs could get on the same kind of hot streak.

When you first pull up the site there are already a good deal of options. There are Banners that webmasters could pull and put on their own site to promote the film, an Illustrations section mixing concept design sketches and stills from the movie and Gilliam on Grimm, where the director waxes thoughtfully on the shoot, the myths and the actors. There are also the Trailers and a link to the official soundtrack site. Clicking on “The Brothers Grimm” title takes you to a Breaking News section that looks suspiciously like a blog, where someone has been posting what’s new on the site and what’s going on with post-production. Why they didn’t just call this a blog and, more importantly in my mind, make an RSS feed available is beyond me. Why force people to come back daily for updates, only to be frustrated on the days when there are none? Alert them in the ways they want to be updated, be it via RSS or email. OK, I’ll get off my soapbox (for now).

Among the more standard fare on the site are a more extensive Photo Gallery, broken up into three different sections: On the Set, Behind the Scenes and VFX Images. The three sections contain a total of a little over a dozen stills. There’s the full selection of Posters available to download and a section to listen to the Music of the movie. Cast and Crew Bios, of course, and a brief Synopsis. One thing I thought was kind of cool was the Credits, which reproduces on the site the credits just as they would appear at the end of the movie. It’s a great way to acknowledge on the site all the people involved in the production. Granted, no one has to click there just like they don’t have to sit through the length of the credits in the theater but I like it’s inclusion on the site.

Overall

I really want to look forward to this movie. I think Terry Gilliam, however much he might miss, at least aims for targets no one else making movies. So as much as I want to be on board here I just think the campaign is a bit weak overall. The main posters, showing Damon and Ledger, are alright but the others are unnecessary and ineffective. It almost seems like they were created by someone who just felt they had to do something with all these fairy tale characters but didn’t know quite what.

The trailer, again, is pretty good but not very inspired and while it looks funny contains none of the mad-hatter sensibility that one would expect from a Gilliam film. The less said about the TV spots the better. Finally the website is a great stab at multimedia presentations but again doesn’t have very much of a sense of humor. The inconsitent presentation of the funny aspects of the movie have me thinking Miramax just doesn’t know what to do with it and are trying everything. Unfortunately that doesn’t create a consistent brand message and therefore weighs down the entire campaign.

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 August 24, 2005 in Features by
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