“The humiliating box office returns for All the King’s Men may have trickled in over the weekend (a pathetic $3.8 million), but the death knell sounded almost a year ago and unintentionally came out of its producers’ mouths. When Sony Pictures announced, just two months before the film’s planned Christmastime release, that its opening would be pushed into the next year, the official reason was that more time was needed to complete the editing and score.
“But the unmistakable message sent to savvy audiences (that means everyone now) was: This movie is in trouble,” begins a 9.26 Caryn James piece in the New York Times.
“The studio ignored one of the harshest realities of movie marketing today: It’s almost impossible to recover from bad buzz. Studios wield their marketing campaigns as they always have, priming audiences to expect the best. But with the media following every twist of a movie’s progress, viewers head to theaters loaded with behind-the-scenes information. A current television spot for the Ashton Kutcher-Kevin Costner action film, The Guardian (opening Friday), actually flaunts its preview audience test scores, calling it ‘one of the best-playing and highest-scoring movies in the history of Touchstone Pictures.'”
“Even insidery advertising campaigns, though, can’t change the fact that blogs, television infotainment and mainstream entertainment reporting can amount to an anti-marketing campaign, priming audiences for the worst.”
And I love this graph….
“Desperately trying to spin viewers with higher expectations, All the King’s Men set itself up for failure because it is impossible to forget a year’s worth of factoids. When Sean Penn first appears on screen in the film, as the self-described hick and soon-to-be-political-savant Willie Stark, his short-sided period haircut may jog your memory: that’s the funny haircut he had at the Oscars two years ago.”