John Carter of . . . somewhere? How marketing can murder a movie by Reece Lippman

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from Reece’s Pieces :

Recently I watched the 2009 Judd Apatow film” Funny People again. I remember seeing it in the cinema and, whilst enjoying it, finding it ultimately disappointing. The trailers sold it to me as another knock around romp in the style of Apatow’s previous efforts albeit, with a slightly more serious edge. What I got instead was, what I felt at the time, a reasonably funny comedy with some marginally interesting bits of drama that was overall about 40 mins too long.

However, on revisiting the film again 3 years later, now knowing exactly what to expect, I enjoyed the film a heck of a lot more. I loved the fact that the drama took centre stage. I loved the fact that this wasn’t a film featuring a group of funny people, more it was about a group of funny people. And I loved the fact that it was about how they control their lives when they aren’t attempting to be, well, funny.

This got me thinking about why I hadn’t enjoyed the film as much the first time around. I settled on one major factor; the film’s marketing.

As I said, I expected (due to the trailers and poster quotes) to see a laugh a minute comedy which Funny People really really isn’t. Had it been sold as exactly what it was I get the feeling that it would have received a much more favourable reaction from critics and the public alike. Instead it wound up with a lot of very middling reviews and a sub-par box office for comedy behemoth Judd Apatow ($71m worldwide, lower than almost every other of his films – includingForgetting Sarah Marshall…)

It isn’t as rare as you might think that a film’s marketing kills its box office or critical reception chances before it hits theatres. 2012 featured a perfect example in the honestly-not-as-bad-as-everyone-says John Cater. Hailed as one of the biggest flops of all time, John Carter is a beautiful example of a marketing department getting it staggeringly wrong. Famously the film dropped the Of Mars from the end of its title as Disney were afraid that this sci-fi twist would alienate large sections of the public, forgetting that leaving the title just as John Carter makes the film sound like a Terrance Malick piece about a tax collector.

For the perfect example, compare these 2 posters. Which of these do you most want to see? Then guess which one was posted around the world.

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One thought on “John Carter of . . . somewhere? How marketing can murder a movie by Reece Lippman

  • The irony in the example of posters is that yes, the Mondo poster is the better sell of the two, but it’s not representative of the landscapes seen in the movie. So put it as the official poster, and it’s “Funny People” all over again.

    Though it’s great to see acknowledged again the faults in marketing.

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