September 11, 2006

"Idiocracy" marketing

Joel Stein at time clearly hasn't seen the movie, so he's just passing on spin from somebody at Fox.

Dude, Where's My Film?

This man gave the world King of the Hill and Office Space. So why is Fox squashing his new movie?

The biggest sin a director can commit isn't making a bad movie, it's making one that doesn't make a good ad.

That helps explain the strange fate of Idiocracy, a sci-fi comedy starring Luke Wilson and directed and co-written by Mike Judge, the guy whose spotless track record includes Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill and Office Space. Idiocracy may not be a bad movie, but every ad and trailer the studio put together for it tested atrociously. After sitting around finished for almost a year, the movie opened two weeks ago--sort of. Fox released it in a few theaters in seven cities (not including New York City), with no trailers, no ads, no official poster and no screenings for critics.

The problem is, Idiocracy is so aesthetically displeasing--its vision of the future so purposely, gaudily, corporately ugly--that even showing a second of it made people refuse to see it. Judge's unslick look might work for hand-drawn cartoons of hicks or a movie that takes place in poorly lit cubicles, but it's not so great for a sci-fi action comedy. It just doesn't look or feel like Talladega Nights or Dodgeball. Even though Fox probably made a million dollars' worth of trailers and ads, they empirically knew from testing that every dollar they spent on ad time for Idiocracy would be wasted.

Comedies have to look slick? C'mon ... "Office Space" ended up highly profitable and it looked amateurish.

I predict that when the DVD finally comes out, amateur fans will post on YouTube their own versions of a trailer for "Idiocracy" with the best jokes highlighted that will crack people up big time.

And if you supposedly can't make an advertisement out of it but it's a pretty good movie, why release it in 130 theatres in seven cities, but not in a single theatre in New York City where the critics can see it?

No, the best explanation is that Fox wanted to kill "Idiocracy," probably because they feared a controversy over eugenics, which is why they've kept it away from NYC, DC, Boston and SF.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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