California Literary Review

The Fourth Wall

A Film and Television Blog

When Movie Marketing FAILS: Cats & Dogs 2, Knight & Day, Babies and Grown Ups

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June 13th, 2010 at 5:55 pm

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THE POSTER FOR CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE

Movie Poster: Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

God, I hope the name ‘Kitty Galore’ isn’t a euphemism…

Not terribly long ago there was a successful family film about superspy pets called Cats & Dogs. Wait… THAT WAS NINE YEARS AGO. Who exactly demanded this sequel again? Cats & Dogs wasn’t a particularly awful film (anything with Siamese Cat ninjas can’t be all bad), and it would seem that it made at least a little money, but for all the effort that went into the production it’s hard to imagine a film that made less of a cultural impact. If you think about it, in the last nine years the original movie’s entire target demographic has grown out of this kind of juvenile family film, but they’re also still too young (I hope) to have kids of their own to drag to this nonsense.

But you know what? That’s not the problem here. The problem is the poster. Take a good long look at it and tell me what you see. You see a dog flying in a jet pack. Makes sense to me, since the dog’s probably a superspy and has few other options besides the aforementioned jetpack if he wishes to engage in aerial combat. The same holds true for the cat in the background, who would appear to be in hot pursuit. These two observations call into question who, exactly, brought out their jetpack first. Did the dog attempt to flee an intended conflict by throwing on his trusty jetpack, forcing the cat into pursuit? If so, where did the dog keep the jetpack when it wasn’t in use? Or the cat for that matter? Most importantly, why is the f**king pigeon just sitting on the wing of the jetpack?!

Hey! Chirpy! You can fly. Get off your lazy ass and help somebody out here! We’re in the middle of a dogfight for pete’s sa… Oh, I get it. That’s cute. Seriously though, nobody in the marketing department knew that pigeons can fly? That doesn’t bode well…

THE SPOILER-FILLED TRAILER FOR KNIGHT & DAY

I was actually casually looking forward to Knight & Day. Tom Cruise is always reliable when he gets to ratchet up the charm, and Cameron Diaz… Yeah. But director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) is an extremely reliable filmmaker who hasn’t made a bad film yet (although Identity sure had a crappy twist ending). This apparently enjoyable action romp about a secret agent who goes rogue and keeps running into the same normal, albeit moviestar-ish girl appeared in earlier trailers to have a lot of charm and well-choreographed action sequences. I myself thought the idea of telling a James Bond story from the perspective of the love interest who just gets dragged along for the ride was a pretty great idea for an action comedy. Then, a scant two weeks before the film’s release, this trailer happened:

YouTube Preview Image

If you don’t want to talk about potential spoilers, you should probably skip on to the bit about Babies and Grown Ups (God help you).

Are they all gone? Good. Let’s take a look at some of the events they show us in this trailer for Knight & Day:

1:37 – Cameron Diaz attempts to punch superspy Tom Cruise in the face, which he easily deflects because of his training. Clearly she is supposed to have none.

1:44 – Tom Cruise says, “In my opinion, sometimes things happen for a reason.” This is followed by a shot of Tom Cruise bumping into Cameron Diaz in the first place. The obvious implication: Their meeting was not by chance. Therefore, Diaz is vitally important to the plot… or at least to Tom Cruise.

2:02 – Cameron Diaz throws a successful punch, implying that perhaps she does have some training after all.

2:05 – Cameron Diaz expertly crawls over Tom Cruise in the middle of a high-speed motorcycle chase, grabs his guns, yells “MAGS!” (implying that she’s comfortable with the usage of mags, obviously), and then proceeds to expertly shoot down several cars in hot pursuit.

Does anyone have an advanced degree in rocket science? Because it seems to me like Diaz is playing a superspy who had her memory erased by her employers, and her old partner/lover has gone rogue in order to get her back. If so – and that’s really the only interpretation that the trailer allows – it would seem like, once again, they’ve given away the entire movie in the trailer. Damn it… I was looking forward to just watching the events unfold when I actually paid to see the film, not when I was just futzing around on the internet.

THE PISS-POOR SCHEDULING OF BABIES AND GROWN UPS

Movie Poster: Babies

Finally, a filmmaker realized why audiences really go to the movies: To deal with screaming babies.

You could not pay me to see Babies. Well, strike that, you could pay me, but you’d have to pay me a lot. I’m not going to hyperbolize and say that it would take a million dollars – not that I wouldn’t accept a million dollars in payment for seeing a documentary about my least favorite class of humans – but unless at least $100 American dollars and/or the touch of a beautiful woman would be assured for me afterwards, I won’t be getting near this film with a ten foot pole (which I would admittedly then use to knock it off of the shelf at Best Buy and fling it into the nearest plasma screen). Did I mention that I’m not a fan of babies?

Movie Poster: Grown Ups

And with a little luck, it will be in 3-D!

Dennis Dugan’s upcoming Grown Ups doesn’t inspire much more enthusiasm, frankly. Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and Kevin James reunite decades after growing up together, throwing the contrast between more innocent, youthful times and complicated middle-age by making them pee in a public swimming pool together. Not exactly my idea of a good time. Be honest: Is it yours? If this movie wasn’t already coming to a theater near you, would you ever say to your spouse or loved one, “You know what movie they should make? Something in which Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and Kevin James pee in a public swimming pool together. Wouldn’t that be nice?” I thought not.

But although I have no desire to see either of these films, I can’t believe that the marketing departments responsible for either film saw fit to release them two months apart. Even a little bit closer together and they could have spawned the most obvious double-feature since Deep Impact and Double Impact. “Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: Babies and Grown Ups.” How could anybody miss that?

I weep for this industry. I really do.

What movie marketing strategies have pissed YOU off recently?

  • http://calitreview.com sadjax

    Where was the marketing for Predators? Didn’t they have a 1.95 for some commercials, posters, buzz websites something? Sheesh, I saw a total of 2 commercials, both on cable channels (Syfy ~god I hate that acronym) , in the 4 weeks before the movie came out. I’m sure the box office will build as soon as people figure out that the movie has OPENED!

  • http://www.geekscape.net William Bibbiani

    I don’t watch much television lately (particularly the kind with commercials), so I hadn’t noticed any problems with the advertising for Predators, or lack thereof. I do wish to take this opportunity to note that my assumptions of the plot for Knight & Day were, if one of my fellow film critics is telling me the truth, fairly inaccurate. Still it was very poor marketing for the film, since it discouraged me from seeing the finished product because it LOOKED like the ending had been spoiled.

  • miki

    Re: Cats and Dogs 2, the Revenge of Kitty Galore

    It would help if you actually wwnt to see the movie before you wrote your review of the poster. That heroic pigeon has a good reason for riding and not flying. All is explained. But first you have to but a ticket. Then you can enjoy the movie…and bring a young friend.

  • http://www.geekscape.net William Bibbiani

    Hey Miki! As you may have surmised, this article was written a month and a half ago, before the film had been released. As such, all we had to go on was the marketing campaign, which included elements that were distracting. This article commented on unexplained aspects of the marketing strategy, not on the content of the film, and was largely satirical anyway.

  • http://www.geekscape.net William Bibbiani

    For the record, and in the interest of fairness, I have it on good authority that the conclusions made about the plot of Knight & Day were inaccurate as well. But the point of the article was not to review the films, but to review the effect of the marketing. Based on what we were shown about these films in advance, we were able to draw certain conclusions that – if the box office is any indication – diminished one’s desire to see the film. That was the issue at hand here.

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