By David Poland email@example.com
Killers Crickets Blackout: Genius Or Idiocy?
Lionsgate’s statement to the AP: “We want to capitalize on the revolution in social media by letting audiences and critics define this film concurrently. In today’s socially connected marketplace, we all have the ability to share feedback instantly around the world. In keeping with this spirit, Lionsgate and the filmmakers want to give the opportunity to moviegoing audiences and critics alike to see `Killers’ simultaneously, and share their thoughts in the medium of their choosing. We felt that this sense of immediacy could be a real asset in the marketing of `Killers.’”
There are a dozen ways to slice this apple. It can be spun as an avoidance of what they assume will be horrible reviews. It can be seen as a serious attempt to use Twitter – however foolish – and Kutcher’s followers in particular (if they all came, a $30m – $40m opening) as the uber-marketing tool… in addition to a LOT of TV time. (I would be surprised if this film is not Lionsgates’ biggest TV ad buy ever.)
There is even the potential story that the studio doesn’t want the company’s Q4 and Year End statement call, occurring a day after the premiere and two days before opening, interrupted by a bunch of negativity about the potential of this movie due to media slams… especially while they are battling Carl Icahn and his contention that the studio is mismanaged, which this, their most expensive film ever, could easily represent. (For the record, every other quarter tends to have their conference call on the second week of the month, but Q4 for LGF has consistently been week one for a few years.)
In the middle is the reality that marketing beats everything else, Kutcher and Heigl both have loyal fans who are more likely to show up if they aren’t fighting a wave of negativity, and Robert Luketic, who is one of our best and most successful comedy directors, is a target for critics.
Raising the stakes a bit is Kutcher’s Twitter statement that he will “pirate” the first 10 minutes of the film from the premiere on June 1.
For me, this is the most problematic thing about all this so far. Of course, this is a standard marketing move these days… releasing 6 minutes or 10 minutes of the film. There is no indication that it works, but it is done at least a half-dozen times a year. And it is a kind of slap in the face of film critics.
That said, simulating piracy is an embarrassment to the industry and if I were running another studio, I would be outraged at this kind of positioning. Ashton Kutcher telling his loving, impressionable audience that piracy is not only okay, but cool. Not cool.
What do you think?