Buy Movie Tickets or Psychopathic Action Figures

Jan 24

You’ve got to feel a little sorry for Hollywood these days.¬† Recession times, such as they are, have hurt them as much as any other business out there.¬† Did you see the Golden Globes?¬† Clearly, they’re on a budget – why else would they have hired a Brit to host?¬† Cheap overseas labour is something every business needs to consider when tough times hit.

The moviemakers have not exerted much effort into improving the quality of their product – that would just be wasteful spending.¬† But rather they’ve brilliantly concentrated on marketing to an expanded audience for each movie produced.¬† Understandably, this is to make up for cheap consumers who’d prefer to buy a week’s worth of groceries than spend a night at the movies.¬† The cinema’s failed poster campaign featuring George Clooney in a three-piece suit (the bubble above his head saying “Aren’t I worth $15 to you?”) gave me pause, but ultimately was not persuasive enough to entice throngs of patrons, such as myself, to the theatres.¬† You are worth fifteen dollars, I said to George’s dapper image, but who was I kidding?¬† As a youngish 37-year old woman, I was still a decade too old to even fantasize about fantasizing about being his main squeeze – we’ve all seen his cocktail waitresses, er, girlfriends.¬† And if it’s fantasy that Hollywood is trying to sell – I’d rather see Twilight.¬†

In fact, it was during New Moon’s opening night, sitting among angst-ridden teenage girls that I realized I’d been manipulated by the latest of Hollywood’s marketing strategies – make a movie that appeals to a “broad”er audience, that is, offer a little something to everyone. ¬†The Twilight movies attract both teenagers and women who want to still look like teenagers.¬† Pure genius.¬†

These efforts have also worked fabulously with children.¬† Walk into any grade one class at Halloween and what do you see?¬† Girls dressed as princesses and boys dressed as superheroes.¬† That must have been the big wigs’ inspiration to jump on the superhero blockbuster wagon.¬† The Hulk, Batman, Superman, X-Men… I can almost hear the chorus of little boys begging Mom and Dad to take them to the movies.¬† But those Hollywood executives aren’t suckers.¬† Sure, movies like Kung Fu Panda do all right, but why not think bigger?¬† And George Clooney needs another pay raise.¬† The PR folks, between plastic surgery appointments, concocted a fail-proof plan to pack the theatres.¬† Draw in the kids with the superhero title, yet pack the flick with violence (plus a small sex scene without the nudity) to attract the older guys.¬† It’s a win-win.¬† The kids get to see Batman save the world and the grown ups get to see a thriller featuring a psychopathic killer.¬†

Of course, Tinseltown had enough foresight to consider hardened parents who aren’t so easily swayed by the incessant begging of their children.¬† They realized such parents are either too cheap to shell out the hundred dollars for a pleasant family night out or are too paranoid to allow their kids to be exposed by some wholesome “violence.”¬† That’s why they created movie merchandise to stock every toy store’s shelves.¬† The Gotham Knight pickings were especially tantalizing.¬† With every purchase of a Batman figure, kids received a free figurine pack of blood-covered corpses.¬† Christmas was very special that year.¬†

Apparently there’s some parent-led movement across North America trying to put a stop to this Hollywood practice.¬† Of course, Hollywood is fighting this madness.¬† America is, after all, the land of the free. ¬†Free – not as in free movie tickets, but as in free to make and sell movies as we please.¬† They quickly silenced the ever growing demands of BAM ¬†(Babysitters Against Movies) whose complaints of job loss were assuaged with free tickets to – you guessed it – New Moon.¬†

Hollywood is just trying to keep itself afloat in uncertain economic times.¬† Yet some people are unconvinced, saying they’re putting profits ahead of child safety and welfare.¬† To these naysayers, the big studios are offering a free showing of the popular movie The Hangover during which they will slash the price of popcorn by half.¬† Should that fail, they will be forced to consider giving George Clooney a pay cut.

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