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Movies, not marketing

This Associated Press story about the the new Fantastic Four movie claims its $56.1 million opening weekend gross heralds the end to Hollywood's summer-movie slump:

The latest superhero movie may have been just fantastic enough to snap Hollywood's longest modern losing streak at the box office.

The comic-book adaptation "Fantastic Four" raked in $56 million during its first three days, apparently helping to end a swoon in which domestic movie revenues had been down 19 weekends in a row compared to last year's.
The article has Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations, saying the following:
"Comic book movies, if properly marketed, are exactly what mainstream audiences want to see in their summer movies."
In a separate article, Wired describes the sheer magnitude of Fantastic Four marketing:
Fox has secured more sponsorship partners for Fantastic Four than for any film in the studio's history - including either X-Men movie or even the final chapters of Star Wars. SBC will create Fantastic Four TV, print, and radio ads. Burger King will air its own Fantastic Four commercials for both adults and kids. Kraft will hawk Fantastic Four Lunchables. Chiklis will appear as the Thing in TV spots for Samsung phones, delivering the craven tagline, "It's fantastic!"
It's distressing that Dergarabedian, and Fox itself, put the emphasis on skillful marketing instead of, well, skillful filmmaking. All the marketing in the world can't turn a bad movie into a sustained success. At the most, it can conjure up a big opening weekend.

And sometimes, it can't even do that. Calling Fantastic Four's opening weekend a smashing success is an exercise in lowering the bar, as other recent movies about Marvel super heroes have done much better:

Spider-man (2002)
Spider-man 2 (2004)
X-Men 2 (2003)
The Hulk (2003)
Fantastic Four (2005)
X-Men (2000)
Opening Weekend Gross
$114.8 million
$88.2 million
$85.6 million
$63.1 million
$56.1 million
$54.5 million
(Source: Box Office Mojo.)
Bear in mind, too, that the above figures are not adjusted for inflation. In constant dollars, Fantastic Four would easily fall to the bottom of the list.

In a USA Today article, a Fox executive claims the supposedly stellar performance of Fantastic Four means movie critics, who slammed the film, are out of touch with audiences:
"I don't think reviewers reflect audiences anymore," says Hutch Parker, head of production for 20th Century Fox, which released Fantastic Four. "They don't seem to understand that sometimes audiences are just looking for a popcorn film."
Maybe so, but as its relatively disappointing opening weekend indicates, Fantastic Four isn't it.

Via Defamer, Wm. Steven Humphrey says some of the Fantastic Four's marketing isn't all that good, either.

Defamer notes more botched Fantastic Four marketing here.




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