Harvard tells Hollywood to ban cigarettes from kids' movies.
Still, as one executive put it, "We either have to come up with a policy or a policy is going to be shoved down our throats."
Glantz doesn't care how it happens as long as it happens. "There's nothing you could do that would have so big an effect on public health so fast," he says. "All we're asking them to do is to treat smoking in the movies the same way they treat fuck." A single utterance of that word in a sexual context in a movie is enough to get an R.
On another matter, we thought we'd follow up on the story of Peaceful Warrior, the film that Universal released experimentally last week by offering to give away millions of dollars' worth of free tickets through Best Buy. The idea was to see whether a movie that was hard to sell through conventional methods would catch on through word of mouth.
Universal is calling the experiment a success, but those free tickets weren't redeemed quite at the level the studio had hoped. More than 300,000 people went to see the movie for free, but that's less than a quarter of the number that could have taken advantage of the offer. So the movie has died once again—down to only 143 screens this weekend. Still, Universal felt that the exercise proved that the giveaway worked logistically and that it might be worth trying again with a quirky film that presents a marketing challenge. Warrior, rest in peace. (link)
Monday, April 2, 2007
Handcuffed: The Motion Picture Association of America got up on its hind legs last week and punished the distributors of Roland Joffe's upcoming film Captivity. How impressive it would be if it weren't so little and so late.
The MPAA had decreed that certain ads for Captivity, which appeared to show a woman being tortured and killed, were inappropriate for public viewing. (Advertising materials are submitted routinely as part of the ratings process.) The distributor of Captivity, After Dark Films, nonetheless displayed the ads in Los Angeles and New York. When complaints from the public drew media attention, the company's CEO said the whole thing was an error and that the ads were not supposed to be released.
The MPAA was mad enough that it suspended the ratings process for the film for four weeks, which could create issues as its creators attempt to get it rated in time for its May 18 release date. (Unrated films have a tough time getting booked into theaters.) And the MPAA came up with another novel punishment: After Dark will have to submit not just all advertising materials for approval, but also the locations in which they are supposed to be displayed. So, parents may not have to explain to preschoolers what is going on in those nasty billboards—in the case of this film, anyway.
Mark Damon, who produced Captivity, says nervously that he hopes the MPAA will keep in mind that the ones who will suffer for After Dark's transgressions (which he believes to be inadvertent) are the innocents involved in making the film. "We had nothing to do with what happened," he says. He adds that Captivity is a deeper work than Saw or Hostel. "Does it have exploitation elements? Yes, it does, but it's a different kind of movie," he says. "Saw and Hostel are all about new forms of torture. Here the torture is as much mental as anything else."
Good to know.
Kim Masters is an NPR correspondent and the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everyone Else.
Still from Captivity by AfterDark Films/Lionsgate. All rights reserved.