[Editor’s Note: With this post, The Bonus View is pleased to welcome our newest contributor, Luke Hickman. Luke will be joining us to weigh in on various movie- and TV-related topics. For his first post, he takes a look at the foolishness of studio movie marketing. Please give him a warm welcome. -JZ]
When the ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ teaser trailer went online the other week with its text saying, “From WETA DIGITAL the Visual Effects Company for AVATAR,” I was left with one big question: Since when are movies known for their FX teams? If listing the outsourced production teams in trailers was common practice, just about every trailer out there would say, “From SKYWALKER SOUND and INDUSTRIAL LIGHT AND MAGIC… the Companies Who Have Worked on EVERY MOVIE EVER.”
There are only two reasons why a studio would mention an FX team in a trailer. 1) There isn’t a single noteworthy filmmaker attached whose credits can replace WETA’s. Or, 2) The studio knows that the movie is a piece of garbage. It’s clinging onto the one buzzword that might convince general audiences to give the film a decent opening weekend. That’s right: ‘Avatar‘, the biggest movie of all time.
Since almost nothing is known about ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ yet, it may be too early to jump to conclusions about which category this one falls into. However, looking at the facts will give you a hunch.
Neither the director nor writers of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ prequel have decent notches on their belts. Who involved with ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ does? The actors. Why not say, “Academy Award Nominee James Franco” or “Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto?”
Or perhaps, why not say, “From WETA Digital the FX Team for Lord of the Rings”? After all, didn’t the combined ‘Lord of the Rings‘ trilogy win 17 Academy Awards? Although nominated for nine, ‘Avatar’ only brought home three. Aside from ‘The Two Towers’, each ‘Lord of the Rings’ film individually earned more Oscar nominations and wins than ‘Avatar’.
Surely ‘Avatar’ is noted for its unmatched box office glory. On Rotten Tomatoes, the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films respectively hold 92%, 96% and 94% critical ratings, while ‘Avatar’ only holds 83%. Wouldn’t the studio want to promote critical acclaim over the box office record? Not if it doesn’t think that ‘Apes’ will pull in an audience that prefers critical acclaim over pretty pictures. But even as that goes, the ‘Rings’ movies collectively grossed $3 billion worldwide, which isn’t exactly shabby.
I don’t mean to be the negative guy who bashes on ‘Avatar’. I actually thoroughly enjoy ‘Avatar’ and even own the extended Blu-ray. I even think that ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ looks promising. But flashing the name ‘Avatar’ in the middle of the first teaser raises an enormous red flag. While I want ‘Apes’ to succeed, after studying the facts, I can’t help but fear that it’s going to fail.