Sunday, April 11, 2010

From the Writer of Life in Equinox Comes a Post....



If there's one thing I've always found amusing it's how companies try to sell movies to us. They can do it by offering something new. Selling realism. Or just mindlessly clipping yelling and action scenes together with a random thumping noise. But out of all of them, there's one genre staple I find the most amusing.

The "FROM THE...." taglines. They're hammered throughout commercials, posters, and it's been my experience 99.9% of the time they offer absolutely nothing about the movie. So I decided to take some of the more often used ones, and break them down a little bit:

From the Producer(s) of....

I'm not sure there's a greater signal that a movie is awful than this tag. Think about it. What this is really saying is: "From the rich people behind something unrelated, that you may have enjoyed, comes something else they're spending money on."

Well, thank god for that. You know, until I saw that I was worried. Honestly most of us could probably only name one or two prominent film producers off the top of our head. And even then they're name seldom has anything to do with the quality. Let's see Jerry Bruckheimer is probably the only one that it even lets you know anything about the movie. And unless you believe MTV is god, and the world revolves around repetitive action sequences, it's likely not a big plus for you.

From the Author of....

This one is just a minefield of a mess. So you're telling me that the only marketable thing about your movie is the source material? That has an incredibly small amount to do with the movie. If the casting, director, and screenplay suck I don't care if you're author was Shakespeare, the movie's going to suck. How about you try to do something else? Like create a decent commercial. Make a marketable film. Or, hell, make a good film! I'm sure there's lots of authors out there wishing they would stop associating them with these movies.

From the People behind...

What the hell does that even mean? How do you become one of the people behind. Do you just stand behind the camera on random films so that studios can throw out this tag? I imagine studios putting out classified ads reading "looking for people to stand behind cameras. Qualifications: 1) Good standing ability 2) Talent for being behind 3) No Name or Identifiable Objects"

Please stop. Either give them a title, or don't waste my time!

From the Creators/Studio...

I bundle these two together because they tend to go hand in hand. This is always a mixed bag. As studios produce so many films they basically just choose two of their biggest sellers and go "that defines us." Well, how about no. All the crap you've released says something about you too. So stop sugar coating it with two of your hits. Besides if you exclude maybe a handful of studios who really get behind their material, they're basically just more money people. Whose impact has nothing to do with the quality of the film.

From the Writer of...

I don't mind this one as much as I do some of the others. The people who write screenplays get next to no love. But if they're the main selling point, it's another bad sign. Not saying that means they're bad, just that it's all the marketing people can come up with. And even then, most writers have a wide variety of films ranging from great to horrid. Even some of the historic best screenplay writers have their duds. So I'm not sure what the point is here.

From the Director of...

This is without a doubt the most abused of all the "from the..." M. Night Shyamalan is still "from the director of the Sixth Sense." Well, thank god we have short memories. It's not like he hasn't made anything in the last 5 or so years that was bad, right? Oh wait, yes, he has. Antoine Fuqua is still the "From the Director of Training Day." And John Singleton still sneaks in the "From the Direct of Boyz n the Hood." That was almost 20 years ago! He hasn't had a hit since then, are you trying to scare people away from your movies!? You could almost create a database of outdated director associations, it's gotten so out of hand.

I'm not saying it shouldn't be used, but come on, use your brain. If the best you got is something nearly two decades old, or more, and it's not an all time great/classic film, you shouldn't use it.


-----------------------------------

Perhaps my main complaint with all of these is that they exist to inspire the viewer to want to go see the movie, but seldom have either anything to do with it, or support the film in any way. They're just poster filler, under the belief that if you see the phrase you'll think it's there for a reason, and must be important. The honest truth is that they're not. And, if anything, most of the time they are key signs that a movie is an impending disaster, and they desperately need your money.

13 better thoughts:

nickis_movies said...

This is an awesome post. I was thinking about this not long ago. When do you gte to the point where directors and creators can use their name rather than say "From the.." Saying "From The" is hardly complimentary.

Simon said...

Lovely post. But, you can't exactly blame the advertisers. They're paid to sell something, and it's not like the box office numbers for half these movies provide much 'learn from your mistakes' material.

Alex said...

Ugh too true. I especially hate the Producers one, since it really just doesn't mean anything! The writer and director ones make some sense, though obviously they can be misused.

Univarn said...

@nickis thanks! I think it's once you've either won an oscar or become that caliber. Granted I've seen it used for directors who have never done anything worth mentioning before. Sometimes I think it's just filler space meant to entice, assuming you know nothing.

@Simon On some level I do blame the advertisers. I get there's only so much you can do with some movies. But why use something so pointless? I suppose it's just become an irremovable part of the film marketing industry.

@Alex They do. One day I'll do a post on the "Presents" used when famous directors help bring a foreign film over, but have nothing to do with the movie itself. A good example is Tarantino and Hero.

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

I'm a little disappointed, I thought you were actually going to review a Miley Cyrus film, that would have been something. It must be a pretty crappy movie seeing that IMDb raters have given it an average of 2.8! I guess the Hanna Montana fans gave up on her already!

This comment is brought to you by the creator of 26 Days of Russell Crowe and initiator of the 1001 Movie Club.

The Mad Hatter said...

Y'know what though? I'm more likely to lean towards a creative team behind a movie, than a pretty face that's in a movie.

I mean, tell me that Johnny Depp and Christian Bale are in a movie and I'm sort of intrigued...tell me that they're in a movie directed by the guy who did HEAT and COLLATERAL and I'm all over it.

in a way I can be swayed by a writer or author, since I pay attention to such things (Dunno about you, but i definitely be up for seeing something that Chuck Palahniuk wrote or Charlie Kauffman).

I agree with you that they're beginning to take it too far ("The Producers of" especially).

Univarn said...

@MVP I think a lot of that is people who haven't seen it just go in and give it the lowest rating possible because they have nothing else to do (New Moon had like a 2 within the first few hours of its release because of spammers). But, no, I'll likely never watch that movie. Even though I do enjoy Greg Kinnear

@Mad I'm of the opinion the abuse outweighs the positive use. I remember when the first Date Movie of the awful "____ movie" series came out. They were advertising "From 2 of the writers of Scary Movie comes..." I mean, really? That's just pathetic.

Some people behind the screen are fine, but if they're talented enough to draw that kind of appeal put their name up there and then what they're known for. Don't just label them "director"

From the author of Anomalous Material said...

The Last Song 2.5/10 on IMDb, AHAHA you can't make that up!

I think, because we tend to be more knowledgeable than the average movie-goer, that we are taking things for granted. If you ask someone in the street who Antoine Fuqua is, most people will have no idea. People are aware of the huge movie stars but as you come down the notoriety ladder, less and less people recognize lesser known actors. Now, for people who are never "in" movies like directors, writers, producers and what not, the vast majority of people need to be reminded who they are by saying things "By the director of X movie"

Univarn said...

@Castor love the new name :P. I'm not saying they should never use it. But when you're mentioning films over a decade old, the one hit of constantly proven one time wonders, or just random people associated with films, there's got to be a stopping point. I'd accept directors/writers. Especially those associated with consistent success, but not real big names.

I just think these days it's being used just to be used. As if the value of the movie is directly related to who is associated with it.

CMrok93 said...

I do agree with what you have to say about the directors point. They always use Singleton with that "from the director of Boyz N The Hood", and every time I'm just like, here they go again. Although he has had a couple of hits they weren't as big as Boyz, but think about Rosewood, Poetic Justice, and Four Brothers. Not great but still good.

Ross McG said...

great post Uni.
have to agree with Castor on this one.
the vast majority of people dont know or dont care who produced what or directed what or was behind what. but if they see a name they are familar with(for example in your Flushed Away poster, 'Shrek') then they are more likely to go see it.
why do you think the vast majority of trailers are crap? because they are targeted at people who dont like movies and wouldnt normally go to a movie. if you can get those people to go to your movie then you are quids in.
Miley looks confused in that poster - maybe, like me, she doesnt have a fecking clue what A Walk To Remember is.

Univarn said...

@Ross Haha, Walk to Remember was from my high school days. The sappy dramady all the teen girls weeped over (back when Mandy Moore mattered).

I don't have as much of a problem with Writer/Director is they're relevant or classic. I do have a problem with Producer, Author, Studio, or pretty much anyone who is either a) just a money person or b) has no direct involvement with the movie.

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