Please care about Spider-Man
That’s what all these ads should say. “Please care about us”, and, “Hey we made a superhero movie, too!”
Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man, the middle child of the summer superhero titles, is going full-tilt trying to build up interest in the movie that no one particularly wanted. They’ve got a viral site featuring Denis Leary’s Captain Stacey, and this intern recruitment video with Rhys Ifans’ villain, Dr. Connors, and now Sony marketing brings us a “super preview”, which is a beefed-up trailer plus ninety seconds of Spider-Man saving a kid. Please note that I had to sit through the entirety of America’s Got Talent (and going by this show, no, we don’t) in order to see this.
I don’t think that it looks like a bad movie. Quite the opposite, actually. It looks pretty decent. Andrew Garfield looks good as Peter Parker. I like how snarky he is, and I’m going to go ahead and say that Garfield, who was 27 when they shot the movie, is more believable as a teenager than Tobey Maguire, who was 26 when he made his first Spider-Man movie, ever was. At the very least, I’m willing to believe The Amazing Spider-Man is okay, maybe even more than okay. The problem is not the movie looking bad though; the problem is—why is this movie? It’s the question that has haunted the project since it was announced. Why is Spider-Man being rebooted a mere five years after Sam Raimi’s trilogy wrapped? Who was clamoring for this?
The answer? No one. There is a distinct lack of enthusiasm for The Amazing Spider-Man. Everyone I talk to, even hardcore nerds, aren’t into it and the reason is the same across the board—the memory of the Raimi trilogy is just too fresh. The viral campaign and the “super preview” are part of Sony’s recalibrated marketing campaign, but I’m not convinced it’s working. If the movie seemed properly bad, then this kind of thing might work. Because viral videos and ancillary materials, a super-sized trailer showcasing a cool action sequence, that stuff can hide a faulty narrative or poorly made movie. But no amount of advertising, no matter how slick, can trick people into seeing a movie they didn’t even want in the first place. This is why marketing a movie is so different, and often counter-intuitive, to marketing any other kind of product. You can convince someone to buy perfume they didn’t know they liked or to purchase a gadget they didn’t know they needed, but it’s a lot harder to fool audiences like that.
I think it’s because movies are more than just a financial investment. You’re asking for people’s time, and you’re asking people to let you yank their emotions around, too. Think of all the movies you see knowing they’re going to be sad. You’re basically paying someone to bum you out. The expectation of the service is different—the slickest ad campaign in the world can’t make someone see a movie they just don’t want to see. And the problem for Spider-Man is that people simply don’t want to see this movie. No amount of finessing the marketing is going to fool people into wanting a movie they didn’t ask for.
(Lainey: Here’s Andrew Garfield last night at the 2012 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards honouring his Death Of A Salesman director Mike Nichols where he told the audience:
“Very few people shape your life. [For me it was] a street busker, my girlfriend and Mike Nichols.”
Andrew loves Emma SO much!)