Today, Disney released the third trailer for their upcoming film, Tron Legacy.
We’re less than two months from the release of this film and Disney is really cranking the marketing machine into overdrive. They have a lot on the line with this film and they are going to make sure everyone and their mother (literally) are ready to head to the local IMAX come Christmas this year.
That being said, I can’t help but feel like the relentless advertising effort reeks of desperation. Right about now, I can see the Disney executives who greenlit this film thinking to themselves, “Wow, we’re sinking $300 million into a movie that’s a sequel to a little-seen cult classic, whose primary audience was confined to the ultra-nerd crowd. This thing better do gangbusters or my head will be on someone’s plate come New Year’s!” There’s been a non-stop onslaught of posters, stills, trailers, soundtrack news, etc. etc. etc., all of them seemingly trying to will the interest for this film into existence.
[Contrast this with the marketing effort for James Cameron’s Avatar, which was muted by comparison. The film went on to box office glory and box office history despite the marketing effort and not because of it.]
Hollywood is obsessed with remakes and film’s based on existing properties, even when those properties will do nothing to help sell tickets. The idea is that the existing name/fanbase will make it easier to sell the film, but this theory hasn’t exactly been vindicated. Example: Who on Earth thought that the Jonah Hex fan club was going to turn out in large enough numbers to make that film a success? Ditto Scott Pilgrim. MAYBE ditto Tron Legacy in a couple months (although I doubt it). Over at Filmschoolrejects, Cole Abaius wrote about how challenging it was for the directors of Skyline to get their film made. Said one of the directors:
There’s this phenomenon that people have been cynical about in the last couple of years that I happen to agree with – that if a property isn’t based on something pre-existing, a video game, a comic book, graphic novel, [producers] won’t be interested. There’s a real aversion to original properties, but if you’ve got a graphic novel that sold 500 copies, they’ll say, ‘Look! It’s based off a graphic novel! It must be cool!’
Is there such a thing as “too much” advertising for one movie? Only insofar as it annoys people like me. But when you’ve already sunk hundreds of millions into a visually rich, sci-fi film, you’re going to want to pump as much money as you can in the service of getting butts into seats.
With each new poster image though, I can’t help but smell fear…the fear that maybe basing your film’s success on a moribund, decades-old property that your computer engineer dad kinda liked when it was in theaters and on VHS might not be the best way to do business anymore.