Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hope hype

I know, I know, Hope Springs opened on Wednesday, not today. But I decided not to subject you to another round of "why I don't think the Bourne movies are so great."

How do I know it opened Wednesday? Well, just because I generally follow these things, as do you I'm sure.

But also because of the billboard I saw yesterday, which is what I'm writing about today.

I took a detour to avoid traffic that brought me through my old neighborhood. Down a sloping stretch of Sepulveda Boulevard near the Howard Hughes Center, there's a digital billboard that frequently advertises the arrival of new films, often counting down the number of days until they hit theaters.

Usually these are for movies featuring superheroes, or other things that make people go geek-crazy.

Yesterday, it was for Hope Springs. But since the movie had already opened, it said simply:

Hope Springs


This made me chuckle. "Hope Springs, Now playing," sure. "The Dark Knight Rises, Now," sure. But "Hope Springs, Now"? That's a bit of a misread of the intended demographic of this movie and the kind of advertising psychology that speaks to it.

Let's imagine it ...

Seventeen-year-old kid with messy hair rolls down Sepulveda Boulevard in his mom's Dodge Caravan.

Sign: Hope Springs

Kid: "Oh shit! Hope Springs! I am all over that shit. When does it open?"

Sign: Now

Kid: "Oh my God. It's already open. Ho-lee shit."

Makes a hard right into the Howard Hughes Center -- brakes screeching, tires smoking -- to plunk down cash for the next showing at Rave Cinemas.

"Now" basically implies such rash behavior. "If you wanted to, you could go see this movie RIGHT NOW." It's the language of addiction, which seems like a bit of a disconnect with the retirees most likely to spend their pensions on a ticket. 

I'm just wondering why "Now" isn't late December. With its two aging stars and romantic comedy trappings, Hope Springs has all the hallmarks of this year's Nancy Meyers movie, which means it would come out at Christmas (see here for a fuller discussion). Or at the very least, it could come out in April to have a tie-in with the title.

Well, we'll see after this weekend whether the great Meryl Streep and a bold stroke of counter-programming pay dividends at the box office.

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