The point of this David Poland piece seems to be that the traction-penetration effects of marketing campaigns aren’t showing up in surveys until…what?…two weeks before the nationwide release date (or is it one week?), so anyone who runs tracking data on a film three weeks out is misunderstanding the way things work and creating unfair havoc in the process. I certainly experienced the downside of this when I ran those negative early-bird numbers on The Break-Up, and I’d like to think I’ve learned something from this. But of course, Poland has to get ugly by referring to a wave of “journalists” who are fixating on tracking…the quote marks meaning, of course, that people who’ve reported tracking aren’t journalists, and that “they are proving that a small amount of information is truly a dangerous thing,” he says. Well, I try to double-check tracking figures at all times. Three companies provide regular data, and it’s out there, and I’m certainly not passing along anything that any distributor or marketing outfit hasn’t already read or heard. I’m presuming that the readership knows that tracking data, like any political survey, always follows by a few days what people are ostensibly thinking and feeling. It is never in front — it always chases. And sentiments about upcoming movies can turn on a dime, as we’ve recently seen. That said, are we supposed to regard the consistently lower-than-they-should-be numbers for Superman Returns as complete poppycock? Sometimes tracking tells the wrong story and sometimes it doesn’t. One company reported this morning that Adam Sandler ‘s Click has a 44% definite interest and that Pirates of the Caribean: Dead Man’s Chest has a 68%, and it means absolutely nothing that Superman Returns has a 41% definite interest? The fact that SR‘s definite interest tallies have never crested 50% almost certainly means something. You can’t say it’s absolute total balderdash. Somewhere out there people seem to be saying to themselves, “Who needs another Superman film, especially one that wants to pretend it’s 1983 and that Richard Pryor‘s Superman film never existed.” What matters, of course, is what will happen when people finally see it starting next Wednesday. We all know it’s going to “open”, but who knows what the vox populi shakedown will be? To me Superman Returns is a moving and very personal film, but a journalist pal who’s seen it told me this morning he’as flabbergasted by the rave reviews. I’m hoping he’ll be in the minority, but let’s see.