movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Wed Dec 09 2015, 09:40pm | 13 comments
A good strategy to get good word of mouth would be to make quality films that people really like.
But that takes time and effort, which translates to money.
The studios have mostly worked out how to generate social media frenzy about superhero films, which I think is one reason they continue to be so successful: throw enough bones to the long-time fans, give the impression you respect the material, and they will promote the thing much more cheaply than any alternative. (Contrast Fantastic Four with practically any other recent superhero film. In particular consider the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, a property most people had never even heard of.)
Given how much faster the feedback cycle from disappointed fans has become, perhaps we’ll see “opening weekend” as a measure of a film’s success replaced by “opening day”.
But these massive marketing campaigns consume money as well. I know you’ve said “social media frenzy” is cheaper, but even Star Wars isn’t just relying on its massive built-in audience — Disney’s marketing is some of the most aggressive we’ve ever seen.
Some of the crucial elements that make a good movie don’t cost significantly more money at all — just a matter of smarter decision-making: write this scene instead of that, hire this director instead of that, cast this actor instead of that one.
True, but there are clearly some people who will get a positive buzz going without being paid anything more than a preview ticket.
The interesting thing is that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is starting to get Oscar buzz, and not just in the technical categories. Maybe Abrams tried to make a great movie and spend ungodly amounts of money.
Or maybe the Oscar buzz was started by Disney.
If the film is worth positively buzzing about.
The fact that all the fanboy sites can be guaranteed to cover every snippet of casting and production news, post every poster and trailer, and analyze trailers to death — all of this months and years before a film is even finished, never mind actually seen by anyone or released to the public — means that there are plenty of loud voices on the Net willing to buzz about movies that they have absolutely no idea about the quality of.
Yes, but as the films near or are past completion, then the buzz DOES become about the quality of the film. No amount of fanboy excitement around production news or poster analysis could save Fantastic Four, because in the end the buzz was about what a shit movie it turned out to be.
But we still have no idea what the quality of an unseen film actually is! In this case, “buzz” is equivalent to “guess” or “hope.”
Well, if “buzz” just means “pre-release speculation,” then sure. But I’m not sure pre-release buzz can overcome post-release negative reviews and poor word-of-mouth.
Are you saying you’re against the concept of “buzz” in general? People will naturally tend to talk about something they’re excited or intrigued about.
I’m simply saying that we cannot say that “buzz” has anything to do with a film’s quality until people actually start to see the film. That’s it.
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