Thursday, August 5, 2010
A study in contrasts
Charlie St. Cloud had a pretty ho-hum opening weekend, especially for what the studio was hoping from a Zac Efron movie. It picked up $12.4 million, which projects to a likely final total in the vicinity of $30 to $40 million.
Whether that was a factor in the following decision or not, sure enough, as I was driving home from work on Monday, the ten-story Charlie St. Cloud poster I wrote about last week was being systematically removed, a mere 7 to 10 days after it was originally erected. As I passed by at 65 mph, the guys on their window washer's lift were down to just the final ribbons of the right side of Efron's face. And yesterday, the building was back to what it had always been, as seen above. (Note: After posting this, I just realized I took a picture of the wrong building. I was going to let it go, but I didn't want those of you who compared and contrasted to think I was crazy. Or lying.)
It's not so unusual, I guess. All movie advertising is geared toward the opening weekend, after which it is assumed that the film -- unless it's really special, which Charlie St. Cloud isn't -- will get eclipsed by the latest and greatest new release. It's an endless cycle with very predictable outcomes, as reflected in a steady box office decline that's so reliable, it could probably come with its own mathematical formula. They could have left the Charlie St. Cloud poster up for another week, but to what purpose? Just because it was such an effort to put it up in the first place? No, this is the real world -- it's time to move on.
The reason I'm really writing about it today is not because of Charlie St. Cloud, per se, but because of the contrast with another movie advertisement that's just three-tenths of a mile up the 405 freeway.
Specifically, this one:
That's right, your eyes are not deceiving you. That's a poster for Just Wright, which was released on May 14th, nearly three months ago. And though IMDB still lists box office updates for it, which means a scant couple thousand dollars here and there are still trickling in, the movie has not cleared more than a million dollars since the week ending June 6th.
If Charlie St. Cloud is emblematic of the pragmatic approach to advertising, I'm always interested in examples of the opposite approach, which involves essentially abandoning a billboard and continuing to pay rent on it long after the movie in question has come and gone. It's as if time is standing still at the top of this signpost for Hollywood Park Casino -- which I've always found somewhat of a curiosity itself, as the casino is actually located at least a mile or two to the east of the highway, rather than directly underneath, as this sign seems to indicate. (It's actually a racetrack, but I'll use the terminology they use for themselves.)
My best guess is that this is no ordinary advertising space open to the public, that Hollywood Park Casino advertises movies (or other services) in that space that they believe will somehow bring more people to Hollywood Park Casino. However, the only relationships I can see between Just Wright and a gambling facility are pretty flimsy, because you're gambling on horse racing here, not on basketball. If I were being really cynical, I'd say the folks at Hollywood Park are advertising a movie they think will bring more blacks to the casino, because they operate under the theory that blacks are more addicted to gambling than their white counterparts.
But I'd never be that cynical, would I?