Friday, November 20, 2009

No, the breakfast cereal

This past weekend, I saw the trailer for Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus for the second or third time. It looks exquisitely colorful and genuinely inventive. Looks like the good Gilliam rather than the bad Gilliam, who shows up much more often these days. Still not sure exactly how they will integrate Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell with the character Heath Ledger was playing when he died, but then again, even if they can't, that will make it only the fourth most confusing film Gilliam has directed.

For the first time I noticed the website listed at the end:

Yeah, that's one heckuva URL.

What I immediately thought was: "The title is already an unwieldy 31 letters long" -- I didn't count at that exact moment -- "and they already spell out the word 'doctor' instead of abbreviating it.

"Why also add the word 'movie' at the end??"

I mean, it's not like you're going to confuse it for some other Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus that's not a movie. They really needed to clarify, because otherwise you might end up at


or maybe

or even

(wait for it)

I understand if it's a movie like Push, or Cars, or the Eddie Murphy-Martin Lawrence classic Life. You can't just tell people to go to, because that takes them to Life magazine's website. But throw in the word "movie," and presto -- you're at a website that's kind of hard to believe still exists, or ever existed, for that ten-year-old movie directed by the late Ted Demme.

But The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus? There's nothing that can be confused with.

What strikes me as especially funny is that Sony Pictures does not actually own the URL without the word "movie" in it. That's what's so stupid about including the word "movie" in the first place -- you are going to buy up all the related website names anyway, and have them redirect to your main site, so you can capture the crowd that's just guessing at what the main URL might be.

But when you go to, a cheery message greets you with is for sale!

If you are interested in buying please contact William [at] dawgcms [dot] com

Which means that either Sony wanted to buy the URL but had it held for ransom by this William character, or they never cared anyway and he took it to make mischief. Nothing (except Sony's lawyers) to stop William from turning it into a page of dominatrixes defecating on monkeys.

So let's see what happens on some similar URLs: (no "the"): "This portion of the requested page has been blocked. Click here for details." (no "the," "doctor" abbreviated): A "support site" for the movie -- in other words, a fan page. ("the" included, "doctor" still abbreviated): This calls itself "The official Dr. Parnassus webpage," but really all it is is a Quicktime movie of the "UK trailer," with a link to Twitter at the bottom Same as the one immediately above, though this time the banner says that it is "Coming Soon" Redirects to Toys R Us. Ha! Redirects to ZenHQ, "Film Production and Producer Services in Cape Town, South Africa" Server not found Server not found Server not found ("doctor" abbreviated only): Redirects to Sony's site. Whew!

I guess I shouldn't find it so strange. After all, there's precedent. Sony is only following the example set by www.theenglishmanwhowentupahillbutcamedowna and

And why not?

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