Upon writing a previous post that emphasized the need for honesty in the marketing of films, I started to think about films that truly exemplify the idea of minimizing or masking the content of a film for the purpose of selling more Bluerays/DVDs. In such instances not only is the integrity of the film stripped away, but the the film’s original art is grossly ignored and its very originality is instead framed to a conformist image of what marketing experts think consumers would want to purchase. Based upon the examples that will be included in this post, it can be argued that the marketing of such films suggest that audiences are not interested in analytical or dense dramas, but are more interested in light romantic comedies, or that their focus falls upon celebrity name recognition only. Regardless if this is a reality or not, certain films become victims to such marketing and their identity, their entire being, is minimized to a genre that it doesn’t belong to.
Here are five examples of such marketing:
The Impossible (2011)
Perhaps one of the most harrowing films of 2011, The Impossible followed the true-story of a family who was caught in the midst of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed close to 230,000 lives, and how they fought to survive the ordeal and be reunited. The film poster was effective in how it completely captured the torment and trauma of what the tsunami brought to those who were affected. The film seemed to reinforce the idea that nature is unpredictable
and cannot be contained, while also representing the natural human response to want to survive. However, the DVD Cover detracted from the sense of tragedy and instead put more of its focus upon close-up shots of Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.
This film adaption from Yasmina Reza’s play, God of Carnage, mirrors the style of Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf in that it follows two couples, in the course of one afternoon, who converse on the pretense of settling a dispute between their children, which ultimately turns into them antagonizing each other. Once alcohol is introduced, loyalties are tested and truths are exposed about everyone’s lives. The film poster is done in the style of Andy
Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe Prints, which was an appropriate choice given how the film’s characters are continually two-faced towards each other. However, the DVD cover represents both couples speaking amicably and mirrors what could be perceived as a light comedy when the film is anything but that.
A Single Man (2009)
Perhaps one of the most important, and under-appreciated, LGBT films made recently, A Single Man takes place in the span of one day following Colin Firth’s character, who is recently widowed from his partner of nearly twenty years. Yet, given the decade he lives in (film occurs in 1962), he must bury his grief and maintain the image that he is simply a single man in the general public. In the midst of his day, he acknowledges the beauty of life while also avoiding the affections of his closest friend (Julianne Moore), who is very much aware of
his homosexuality. The film’s poster symbolizes the isolation for both Firth and Moore’s characters, while also creating a visual embellishment that tells prospective viewers that the film is a “period piece.” However, the DVD cover places an emphasis completely on Colin Firth, whose image almost appears awkward and completely negates the content of the film. Further taking away from the integrity of this film is the backdrop image of Julianne Moore, suggesting she is Firth’s romantic interest in this film, which is exactly the opposite.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
This is one of the most glaring examples of a disconnect between the film poster and the DVD cover. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the heartbreaking story of a young child named Oscar, whose father (Tom Hanks) died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and his quest to discover what a mystery key fits into when he stumbles upon it in his deceased father’s closet. In the midst of this film Oscar encounters a litany of different characters, while the film also explores his troubled relationship with his mother (Sandra Bullock). The original film poster emphasizes the curiosity and
imagination of the film’s protagonist. It also emphasizes to audiences that this film will be processed through the vantage of this child, thus making this film a unique experience about the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. However, the DVD, which creates the image of a happy, smiling family, completely depreciates the emotional core of the film. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close could easily be perceived as a family film upon looking at the DVD cover, to which viewers would feel grossly deceived upon viewing the film.
Little Children (2006)
This is perhaps one of the most egregious shifts from film poster to DVD cover I have ever encountered. Little Children stars Kate Winslet as a deeply flawed mother, who resents the idea of being a mother and living in suburbia. In the midst of a hot summer, she meets an attractive dad (Patrick Wilson) in the playground, who too, is in a unhappy marriage. What transpires is a sexy, steamy love affair between the two characters, which inadvertently affects all those around them. In the backdrop of this film is the subplot featuring a registered sex
offender (Jackie Earle Haley), who is continually harassed by members of the community despite him being mentally handicapped. Little Children is one of the densest dramas made recently and its film poster represented just that: scandalous and unapologetic. However, the DVD eliminated that entire subtext and instead replaced it with the smiling images of Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson. The way they are represented on the DVD cover insinuates Little Children is a romantic comedy, which completely strips away the integrity of this film.