Dweebing, the Misc. Dweeb Items
EDITOR'S NOTE: FIRST UP, A WEE BIT MORE MOVIE NEWS. (AND CHECK OUT THIS FIRST ONE!) ---
Firth, Weisz ready for war in 'Colossus'
CANNES -- Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, Ian McKellen and Susan Sarandon have signed to star in Katselas Films' Boer War political thriller "The Colossus," the company announced Friday. EDITOR'S NOTE: OH MY GOSH...WHAT A CAST! THESE 4 PEOPLE COULD JUST WANDER BY THE SCREEN FROM TIME TO TIME, AND I'D BE HAPPY. (USUALLY I WOULD BE HAPPY JUST WITH COLIN FIRTH. BUT I'M FEELING GREEDY. AND I THINK RACHEL WEISZ HAS TO BE ONE OF MY MAIN SWITCH-LIST CHICKS, SO IT IS ALLLLLL GOOD, BABY!)
Based on the novel Manly Pursuits by Ann Harries, "Colossus" is being produced by Lisa Katselas ("Richard III," "Mrs. Dalloway") and directed by Sean Mathias ("Bent"), who wrote the screenplay with Myer Taub. Currently in pre-production, principal photography is expected to begin in fall 2006.
The $15 million-budgeted movie tells of ailing arch-colonist Cecil Rhodes' belief that he can only recover his health if he can hear the sound of English song birds outside his window in Cape Town. Ornithologist Francis Wills is hired to transport 500 songbirds to Rhodes's home in South Africa where he falls in love with Olive Schreiner, a local firebrand activist fighting against Rhodes and trying to prevent the inevitable war against the Boers. Wills finds himself at the dangerous center of a daring plot to stop the war. Los Angeles-based worldwide sales and marketing company, the Little Film Co., is handling worldwide sales for the film in Cannes.
EDITOR'S NOTE: AND NOW...FROM THE SUBLIME, TO THE RIDICULOUS. (AIN'T THAT OFTEN THE WAY?)
Spacey Vs Santa
Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti’s Christmas comedy now has a name – Joe Claus. And it also has a villain in Kevin Spacey.
The David Dobkin- directed movie will see Vaughn’s deadbeat Claus brother join Santa in the North Pole. It’s not just Spacey signing on – John Michael Higgins (who will appear with Vaughn in The Break-Up) is Santa’s head elf, and Spacey’s old pool table buddy and Shipping News co-star Judi Dench will also appear.
A London shoot this autumn means that Spacey can still maintain his ties to the Old Vic theatre, for which he’s currently preparing to star in a revival of Moon For The Misbegotten.
Scarlett Is Brilliant
Scarlett Johansson as a jewel thief? EDITOR'S NOTE: SURE. WHY NOT?! Barry Levinson thinks she makes the perfect tealeaf, since he’s cast her in his next film, heist movie Brilliant.
With a screenplay by Gillian Gorfil and Elizabeth Shorten, the film will see Johansson’s gem snatcher teaming up with a con man to pull off the greatest heist in history. But their relationship is complicated by a serious love/hate vibe.
Levinson will start shooting once his star has finished work on The Nanny Diaries and the male lead has been cast.
Malkovich Is In Disgrace/Takes over from Fiennes in a drama
It’s a case of Fiennes out, Malkovich in as the cast of academic scandal drama Disgrace changes.
Fiennes had been lined up to play a professor of romantic poetry who dives into a torrid affair with one of his students. He’s discovered (hence the title) and driven into exile. But the situation grows worse when the lovebirds come under attack.
Now John Malkovich will be playing the part of the lusty yet tragic prof. The film, which will be directed by Steve Jacobs, was adapted from JM Coetzee’s Booker Prize-snagging novel by Anna-Maria Monticelli. The production kicks off in the autumn. EDITOR'S NOTE: I KNOW IT'S SHALLOW OF ME, BUT WATCHING FIENNES (THEY DON'T SAY WHICH FIENNES, BUT EITHER ONE) BE NAUGHTY IS ENJOYABLE. THINKING ABOUT MALKOVICH GETTIN DOWNANDFUNKY MAKES ME QUESTION MY HETEROSEXUALITY. BLEH. (HAVE YOU SEEN PICTURES OF HIM LATELY? FOR THOSE OF YOU THESPYHOUSTON TYPES.....HE LOOKS LIKE ROB BABBITT MERGED WITH GREG BOYD. NOW......THINK ABOUT THAT NAKED......)
BATHE AND COME BACK.....
StrathairnTackles Challenger/A new docu-drama
Philip Kaufman changed the way we look at astronaut dramas with legendary historical pic The Right Stuff. Now the director will be taking a long, hard stare at a more tragic part of US space history with Challenger.
The film will star Good Night, And Good Luck’s David Strathairn as scientist and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, who was part of the team leading the investigation into 1986’s space shuttle disaster.EDITOR'S NOTE: UNLIKE CURRENT/UPCOMING THE 9/11 FILMS THAT FEEL TOO SOON, THIS FEELS LIKE THE TIMING MIGHT BE OK, LIKE WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO STAND JUST FAR ENOUGH AWAY FROM THE EVENT TO MAKE THE FILM BEARABLE.
Written by Nicole Perlman, the movie is described as taking a look at the probe and the man involved in the same way that The Insider chronicled Jeffrey Wigand’s whistle-blowing role in the tobacco world.
Shalhoub Heads American/EastAn Arab-American saga
Tony Shalhoub, who will next be seen rather than heard in the new Pixar movie Cars, has agreed to star in AmericanEast, an Arab-American drama.
Director Hesham Issawi co-wrote the script with Sayed Badreya, who will also take a starring role. Joining Shalhoub and Badreya in the cast is Paradise Now’s Kais Nashif.
The movie will examine ignorance about Arab culture, and spotlight the pressure that Arab-Americans are put under on a daily basis.
"Our goal was really to show other people that we are no different from them," Issawi told Variety. "To do that we focused on one normal guy, who just happens to be a Muslim, and we show what kind of pressure these external forces can have on a person who's simply trying to carry on."
The film will crank into production in July in LA.
Gladiator: The Musical?
Could you picture Ridley Scott’s Gladiator as an all-singing, all-dancing musical? EDITOR'S NOTE: NOPE. NOT SO MUCH....Well, maybe not the dancing part, but if Lord Of The Rings can become a tune-laden theatre extravaganza, then clearly anything can. EDITOR'S NOTE: THE REVIEWS MAKE IT SOUND LIKE THE VOTE IS STILL OUT ON WHETHER LOTR REALLY CAN BE CONSIDERED A SUCCESSFUL TRANSFER TO MUSICAL FORM.
But according to reports over at Contactmusic, the tale of Maximus Decimus Meridius will be the next big thing on the West End stage. With one of the movie’s writers (William Nicholson) apparently hard at work on the story and plans to use Hans Zimmer’s music already afoot, all that’s left to sort out is who’ll be playing the armoured hero.
The producers are apparently looking at Broadway regular Brian Stokes Mitchell to take over the part.
"It's a terrific story which, with the right songs, will be a great show," an “associate” of producer Brian Eastman apparently told the site.
A Change In 'Toon Town/CG cartoon gets a new helmer
Mike Johnson, who co-directed The Corpse Bride with Tim Burton, has been drafted in to take over directing Universal’s animated movie The Tale Of Despereaux. Despereaux is based on Kate DiCamillo’s book The Tale Of Despereaux: Being The Story Of A Mouse, A Princess, Some Soup And A Spool of Thread, which Universal optioned two years ago.
Sylvain Chomet, who brought us Belleville Rendezvous, had planned to direct the film, but was also trying to make another ‘toon based on an unproduced Jacques Tati script. But the load became too great and now Johnson will handle Despereaux.
The CG-animated story follows the misadventures of three friends, a banished mouse, a rat who loves light and a girl with cauliflower ears, who help a princess.
Feeling Sheepish/A new animated animal adventure
Talking animals are back in a big way for animated movies. With Over The Hedge just arrived, farm ‘toon Barnyard due this summer and Christmas seeing the arrival of the penguins in Happy Feet,EDITOR'S NOTE: AN ASIDE......IF THIS MOVIE IS ANYWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS THE TWO TRAILERS I'VE SEEN SO FAR, OH MY GOLLY IT IS GOING TO BE GREAT! (THE FIRST ONE WE SAW WAS A FULL-ON BUSBY BERKLEY TAP NUMBER. TODAY, WE SAW "MY WAY" SUNG...BY PENGUINS, NATCH....IN SPANISH. HYSTERICAL!) you might think that all the stories about chatting critters would be taken.
IDT thinks it’s found an idea worth herding on to the screen with Sheepish, a tale of a wolf who goes against the code of his pack and is cursed to become a sheep. EDITOR'S NOTE : OH GOSH OH GOSH OH GOSH! MUST GO. MUST BUY ALL THE LOGO'D GOODIES. (JOEL GETS HIS PENGUIN MOVIE WITH "HAPPY FEET" AND THEN I GET SHEEP. LIFE IS SO VERY VERY GOOOOOOOOOOOD).
The movie will be co-directed by Saul Blinkoff and Elliott Bour, two former Disney animators who recently helmed Emperor’s New Groove DVD sequel Kronk’s New Groove. The script is by Bert Coughlin, who worked on the character animation for Shrek.
EDITOR'S NOTE: AND NOW, A HODGEPODGE OF THIS AND THAT.
Sony to test new '4K' digital projectors
After more than a decade of talking about it, movie theaters and studios are finally rolling out digital projectors that show sharper, brighter images without cracks, pops or hisses. EDITOR'S NOTE: ONCE AGAIN, UNCLE GEORGE IS GOING TO LOOK PRESCIENT. WHEN WILL THEY LEARN THAT THEY SHOULD ALWAYS LISTEN TO THE BEARDED MAN?!
This weekend, Sony Electronics will enter the field with a projector that displays the sharpest resolution envisioned under a set of standards issued for digital cinema.
Movie studios last year agreed on such technology standards, which will allow components made by different manufacturers to be interoperable. Those components include the projector itself, the computer that stores the movie and sound, software that compresses the huge digital files and security systems that prevent piracy. And, after years of debate about who would pay for the systems, studios and companies that sell digital cinema systems agreed to share the cost. Studios stand to save millions each year by delivering digital versions of their films to theaters instead of prints that get scratched and dirty after only a few weeks and have to be replaced. EDITOR'S NOTE: BOW BEFORE THE BEARDED MAN, AND BEG HIS FORGIVENESS FOR DOUBTING HIM, OH YEA MOVIEPEOPLEOFLITTLEFAITH.
MR. & MRS. SMITH Unrated on DVD in June
Mr. & Mrs. Smith Unrated Collector’s Edition is coming to stores on June 6, 2006. The DVD stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as an emotionally distant married couple who discover they're each leading secret lives as assassins.
The DVD will be available in widescreen and includes a new unrated version of the film.
- Deleted scenes, including an alternate ending EDITOR'S NOTE: MR. SMITH STOPS MESSING AROUND AND GOES BACK TO HIS WIFE? (SNICKER....)
- Full-length feature commentary by director Doug Liman
- “Doug’s Film School” featuring sequence breakdowns with the director, including animatics, storyboards and a major action sequence not included in the film
- “Confidential Files” featuring secret footage
- A behind-the-scenes documentary
- “Shooting School” featuring combat training
- Photo gallery
Suggested retail will be $26.98 U.S./$37.98 Canada.
New film music CD series for beginners
Silva Screen Records in the UK have launched a new series of film music compilations entitled Film Music Masterworks.
The first two albums will focus on the music by John Barry and Ennio Morricone, with subsequent releases presenting the music of James Horner, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Nino Rota.
Silva Screen’s Rick Clark explains that these ’super mid-price’ albums “are meant to be a starting point for people to get into film music.” EDITOR'S NOTE: WHAT A GREAT IDEA!
First two albums will be available next week.
Captain Kirk Figure Exclusive to Comic Con
EDITOR'S NOTE: NOT THE MOST DETAILED, ACCURATE SCULPT IN THE WORLD. BUT NOT DREADFUL.
More info from the Comic Con front. Diamond Select Toys has announced the latest exclusive item available at this year's Comic Con, Captain Kirk!
A deluxe Star Trek Captain Kirk and Command Chair action figure will be available only from DST during this summers Comic Con. It will be packaged in a deluxe window box and retail for $25.00 at the DST booth.
Two other figures will be released later this year, one with Kirk in standard uniform and one with Captain Pike (The Cage).
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Comic Initial Print Numbers
The initial print run for the launch of Dynamite Entertainment's all-new Battlestar Galactica comic has been set at over 175,000 copies.
“We’re obviously very happy with the reception #0 has had in all aspects of the marketplace,” explained Dynamite spokesperson J. Allen. “And the outreach and promotional opportunities we’re working on with Universal, SCIFI and others are sure to help drive customers into their local comics shop - for not only the specially priced #0 issue, but the ongoing series as well.”
The number is a bit staggering. 175,000 copies! To be fair, the book is selling for only 25 cents, but still ... 175,000 copies is 175,000 copies.Big jump for French admissions
To NATO, in-theater ads look like a billion bucks
Why the World Doesn't Need Hi-Def DVD's
WHEN did you first become cynical about the electronics industry?
Was it when VHS went out of style, and you had to buy all your movies again on DVD? Was it the time(s) you never got the rebate you mailed away for? Or was it when your computer's 90-day warranty expired, and the thing croaked two days later?
Doesn't matter. As it turns out, you didn't even know the meaning of the word cynical. This month, Toshiba's HD-A1 high-definition DVD player hit store shelves. It's the first marketplace volley in an absurd and pointless format war among the titans of the movie, electronics and computer industries.
Just contemplating the rise of a new DVD format is enough to make you feel played. What's wrong with the original DVD format, anyway? It offers brilliant picture, thundering surround sound and bonus material. The catalog of DVD movies is immense and reasonably priced. And DVD players are so cheap, they practically fall out of magazines; 82 percent of American homes have at least one DVD player.
To electronics executives, all of this can mean only one thing: It's time to junk that format and start over.
Of course, the executives don't explain this decision by saying, "Because we've saturated the market for regular DVD players."
Instead, they talk about video and picture quality. A DVD picture offers much better color and clarity than regular TV, but not as good as high-definition TV. The new discs hold far more information, enough to display Hollywood's masterpieces in true high definition (if you have a high-definition TV, of course).
UNFORTUNATELY, this idea occurred simultaneously to both Sony and Toshiba. Each dreamed up its own format for a high-def DVD. Each then assembled an army of partners. Toshiba's format, called HD-DVD, has attracted Microsoft, Sanyo, NEC and movie studios like New Line and Universal. Sony's format, called Blu-ray, has in its camp Apple, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Pioneer, Dell and movie studios like Sony, 20th Century Fox and Disney. (Some companies, like HP, LG, Warner Brothers and Paramount, intend to create products for both formats.)
The new DVD players will play standard DVD's, but that's as far as the compatibility good news goes. Movies in Toshiba's format won't play in DVD players from Sony's side, and vice versa.
At first, pundits guessed that Sony's Blu-ray format might win, because it had signed up so many more movie studios, its discs have greater capacity, and the PlayStation 3, expected to top best-seller lists this fall, will double as a Blu-ray player.
But Toshiba has two aces up its sleeve. First, its first HD-DVD player is available now, giving it a head start; Blu-ray players aren't expected until the end of June. Second, this new player, the HD-A1, costs $500 — half the price of the cheapest Blu-ray deck.
The HD-A1 is a pretty big box: 17.7 by 13.3 by 4.3 inches, more like an early VCR than a sleek modern DVD player.
The $500 isn't the only price you pay for being an insanely early adopter; this baby is slow — really slow. It takes over a minute just to turn on; menus are sometimes slow to respond; and a newly inserted DVD takes 45 seconds just to get to the F.B.I. warning. (And no, even the brave new DVD format doesn't let you skip over that tiresome warning.) EDITOR'S NOTE: WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD BUY THIS THING? I LOVE ALL THE NEW TOYS, BUT JUST FOR THE STRUT-VALUE OF BEING AN 'EARLY ADOPTER' YOU WOULD PAY EXTRA FOR INCONVENIENCE AND POTENTIAL (AND LIKELY) GLITCHES? LEAVE ME OUT OF THAT YOUKNOWWHAT'ING CONTEST, THANK YOU!
The remote is a disaster; its buttons are identically shaped and illogically placed. Not only are they not illuminated, but their labels are painted on faintly and in what must be 4-point type. (A sibling model, the HD-XA1, adds minor goodies like a backlit remote — for $300 more.)
Finally, though, the movie begins — and your shield of cynicism begins to waver. As you watch the brilliant colors, super-black blacks and ridiculously sharp detail — up to six times the resolution of a standard DVD — you realize that you've never seen anything quite this cinematic-looking in your home before. EDITOR'S NOTE: OH. SNIFFLE....
Even high-definition TV doesn't look this good; the amount of information HD-DVD pumps to your screen dwarfs what you get from high-def satellite or cable (36 megabits a second maximum, versus 19 or less).
You need a big screen to benefit from all this picture data, however. The impact of the extra detail begins to evaporate at screen sizes below, say, 35 inches.
Even on a small screen, though, you don't have to interrupt the movie to open the DVD menu (to get access to settings and extras); on a high-def DVD, the menu appears at the bottom or side of the screen as the movie continues to play.
That feature makes it quick and easy to turn on subtitles during a mumbled scene, for example, or to tune in the director's commentary track without losing your place. I watched six beautifully made HD-DVD movies from Warner and Universal, including the gut-churning "Training Day" and a spectacular "Apollo 13." (It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.) I quickly concluded that the new on-screen menu system makes the old DVD-menu system look confusing and crude in comparison.
The new DVD generation is supposed to offer several other sophisticated features. For example, director and actor commentaries can now include video, not just audio (the director appears in a small picture-in-picture windowEDITOR'S NOTE: OH COOL. THAT WILL MAKE IT MUCH EASIER IN THOSE 'GANGBANG' COMMENTARIES WITH A BUNCH OF PEOPLE TALKING, TO TELL WHO IS SAYING WHAT.). Similarly, the A1's built-in Ethernet jack is supposed to let you connect to the Internet for interactive features.
No movies in the first wave include any of these goodies, however. (Shades of the Camera Angle feature that was supposed to be available on movies in the original DVD format? You decide.) EDITOR'S NOTE: AGAIN...SO WHY NOT WAIT A WHILE TIL THE DUST SETTLES?
On the videophile blogs, you can find several cautionary notes regarding the HD-A1's audio and video signal outputs — details that will cause average people's eyes to glaze over, but may alarm high-end movie buffs.
For example, don't buy this player if you're hoping to future-proof your home theater. As any geek can tell you, HDTV comes in several degrees of resolution: 720p, 1080i and 1080p. Weirdly, the Toshiba can't send out 1080p, which is the holy grail. (To be sure, this standard is still rare among TV sets, but it's the wave of the future.)
You should know, too, that you're guaranteed the sensational high-resolution HD-DVD picture only if your TV set has an HDMI connector (a slim, recently developed, all-digital jack that carries both sound and picture). If you use S-video or component cables instead, you may see only 25 percent of the resolution you're supposed to get — a maddening antipiracy feature that the studios can invoke at their option. (Most studios have said that they won't "down-res" those jacks, at least at first; they can begin doing so at any time, however.) EDITOR'S NOTE: SO WHEN IS NOT ONLY MY DVD COLLECTION, AND MY DVD PLAYER GOING TO BE OBSOLETE? WHEN IS MY BEAUTIFUL, 46", YEAR-AND-A-HALF OLD DLP HD TV GOING TO BE A DINOSAUR? (GRRRR.....)
The fine print also includes cautions that the A1 contains a fan (though it's mercifully quiet), that your TV may require tweaking to tame the more intense HD-DVD colors, and that the DVD extras are not, generally speaking, in high definition.
Over all, though, the A1 does deliver the spectacular picture and sound promised by Toshiba. Should you buy one, then?
Not unless you're an early-adopter masochist with money to burn. EDITOR'S NOTE: GUYS...AND IT'S BOUND TO BE MOSTLY GUYS...RAISE YOUR SILLY HANDS.
Reason 1: The average person can see the difference in picture quality, but only on a big, high-def screen, preferably side by side with a standard DVD signal. The leap forward is nowhere as great as it was from, say, VHS to DVD.
Reason 2: For a brand-new technology, the A1 is a reasonably priced razor — but it's got a serious blade shortage. Only 20 will be available by the end of this month, priced at $20 to $40, and only a couple of hundred are expected by year's end. (Tens of thousands are available in the traditional DVD format.)
Reason 3 (and this is the big one): You could be placing a very big bet on the wrong horse.
In fact, this might even be a race that neither horse wins; the public may well decide that regular DVD's are just fine as they are. (Remember SACD and DVD-Audio, two rival "high-definition audio" formats that also required new players and new discs? Didn't think so. Both are well on their way to the great eBay in the sky.)
You, and everyone else, have everything to gain by waiting until prices fall, the movie catalog grows and a single standard emerges. After all, how will you feel if you buy a player and a bunch of movies — and the one you picked turns out to be the Betamax of the new millennium?
Probably more cynical than ever. EDITOR'S NOTE: CAUTIONARY FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
Russell Holds His Breath
Kurt Russell and Emmy Rossum get wet in 'Poseidon.'
As one of the few stars of the new thriller "Poseidon" who was around when the original opened in 1972, Kurt Russell doesn't see why anyone would be upset about a remake.
"I must say I don't look at 'The Poseidon Adventure' as 'Gone with the Wind' or 'Casablanca,'" Russell says. "I look at it ... as the first of its genre. But that doesn't make it a classic, untouchable movie in my estimation."
And Russell admits his interest in the disaster flick came down to one person's involvement.
"I wasn't knocked out by the script," Russell admits. "It was just Wolfgang -- Wolfgang Petersen and drowning. That was it."
Did you expect the man who played Snake Plissken to complain about some pesky little pneumonia? Please.
EDITOR'S NOTE: AND NOW, THE MARKETING SIDE OF THE DWEEB-VERSE:
Disney Loses Its Appetite for Happy Meal Tie-Ins
As more children lean toward obesity, Mickey and Co. lean away from McDonald's fast food.
Mickey Mouse & Mickey D Deny LAT Story
Disney issued a statement today denying the Los Angeles Times report that its promo relationship with McDonald's is ending.
An Agency's Worst Nightmare: Ads Created by Users
By JULIE BOSMAN
The animated spot is the latest television commercial for Sony Electronics, but its creator is not a technology wizard at either of Sony's two advertising agencies. The commercial is the work of Tyson Ibele, a 19-year-old from Minneapolis who won a contest on the cable network Current TV for its first viewer-created ad message; it will run for the first time today.
User-generated content, best known for fueling the popularity of Web sites like YouTube and MySpace, is rapidly taking hold in advertising. Dozens of entries were submitted for the Current contest, and Mr. Ibele's commercial will run for one to two months on the network. In the coming weeks, more user-generated ads for companies like L'Oréal and Toyota will follow the Sony commercial.
"User-generated content is sort of the word of the day," said Anne Zehren, the president of sales and marketing for Current TV, which was started last August. "And I think smart marketers will start harnessing that." EDITOR'S NOTE: EXCEPT THAT TOMORROW WILL HAVE SOME OTHER WORD DU JOUR, BECAUSE THE AD COMMUNITY HAS THE ATTENTION SPAN OF ....
Current relies on user-generated content for roughly one-third of its programming, from fashion features to foreign documentaries. The network operates under the theory that its programming will be more relevant if its audience, primarily 18- to 34-year-olds, have a voice in creating it. If the audience is interested, there is less of a risk that they will tune out in favor of other entertainment like the Internet and video games.
User-generated content owes part of its popularity to the younger age group's increasing agility at working with video and audio tools at home to mimic what television studios and advertising agencies do for hefty fees.
For people like Mr. Ibele, who are relatively obscure professionally, Current is an instant national platform.
"It's an extremely efficient way to get people to see your stuff," said Mr. Ibele, who works as an animator for Make, an animation production company in Minneapolis. "And it's a cool way to get your name out there." (He also received $1,000 as payment for his ad.)
So far, Current has attracted advertisers that reflect its youth-oriented audience, including American Express, General Mills and L'Oréal. Rather than purchase individual commercial time, the network requires most of its advertisers to sign one-year contracts, priced at more than $1 million.
But this is Current's first foray into user-generated advertising. Several marketers have experimented with it in the past, often successfully. Converse solicited homemade videos that depicted Converse owners with their sneakers, which the company turned into ads. The videos became a Internet hit after Converse posted them on conversegallery.com.
JetBlue and MasterCard have also toyed with user-generated content in their advertising. MasterCard has introduced a Web site, priceless.com, where consumers write advertising copy for two commercials, ending with the kicker, "Priceless."
Placed in unsympathetic hands, user-generated content can backfire, however. In March, Chevrolet installed a feature on its Web site that allowed visitors to piece together images and text to create a commercial for its Chevy Tahoe sport utility vehicle. But the feature was quickly seized upon by anti-S.U.V. activists, who made videos condemning the vehicle, its low gas mileage and its impact on the environment. EDITOR'S NOTE: SOME COMPANIES ARE SO UNIFORMLY DUMB. AND WHEN THEIR PRODUCTS ARE SO OUT OF TOUCH, IS IT ANY WONDER THEIR CORPORATE 'IDEA FOLKS' ARE SO CLUELESS?
Working with user-generated content requires restraint on the part of companies that are accustomed to controlling their marketing messages. (Of course, Sony approved Mr. Ibele's finished product before it went on the air.)
Still, the audience for Mr. Ibele's commercial is relatively small, reducing the risk for Sony, said Mike Fasulo, the chief marketing officer for Sony Electronics. Current is available to subscribers of DirecTV, Time Warner Digital and Comcast. By June 1, the network will be in 28 million homes, a spokeswoman said.
Mr. Fasulo said consumers were demanding that marketers allow them to define brands on their own terms.
"The trick is that you have to let go," Mr. Fasulo said. "We're used to dictating our messages and we're used to being in control." EDITOR'S NOTE: OR HAVING THE ILLUSION OF CONTROL, AT ANY RATE.
Considering the Current audience, the ad is a relatively consequence-free move for Sony, said Ian Schafer, the chief executive of Deep Focus, a digital entertainment marketing and promotions agency in New York.
"It's safe in that it's advocated by Sony," Mr. Schafer said. "Conversely, you have brands that take opportunities to put content and ad messages in the hands of consumers, and sometimes it goes awry."
In Sony's case, it also required its advertising agencies — McKinney & Silver in Durham, N.C., and Bagby & Company in Chicago — to give up creative control to an enterprising stranger.
"We can scare the agency," Mr. Fasulo said. "That's just fun to do."
Movie promotions get smaller to reach bigger audience
By Laura Petrecca, USA TODAY
NEW YORK — Coming soon to a digital screen near you: summer movie promotions.
To lure consumers into theater seats, studios are rolling out massive Internet, video podcast and cellphone marketing campaigns in addition to TV ads and other traditional promotions. Superman Returns, Poseidon and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest are among the summer flicks getting play now on these small screens.
"People aren't quite as influenced by mass-media campaigns anymore," says Ian Schafer, CEO of marketing firm Deep Focus, which has planted trailers for films such as Scary Movie 4 on video-sharing websites such as YouTube and Google Video. Consumers "now rely more on buzz and word-of-mouth" in movie choices, he says. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO IF WE CAN FAKE THAT, WE ARE IN LIKE FLYNN!
For Superman Returns, which opens June 30, Warner Bros. filmed 27 behind-the-scenes production diaries. It posted links to the videos on its SupermanReturns.com, iTunes and the hard-core Superman fan site BlueTights Network.EDITOR'S NOTE: BAD CHOICE OF NAME. NOW I'M THINKING ABOUT FAT MANTHIGHS.
"If people are downloading videos, they're getting involved in the movie in some way," says Tim Nett, CEO of Trailer Park, which has done multimedia promotion for Superman Returns and Paramount Pictures' Mission: Impossible III. "That shows a higher likelihood of going to see that movie."
Attracting more ticket buyers is critical. Box office grosses are up 7.4% this year through May 7 vs. 2005, and studios hope to avoid a repeat of 2005's disastrous summer. Despite such heavily hyped fare as Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,EDITOR'S NOTE: SNIFFLE....A YEAR AGO, ALREADY...... Batman Begins and War of the Worlds, ticket sales fell 11.4% from summer 2004 to about $565 million, according to Exhibitor Relations, and box office gross dropped 8.5% to $3.6 billion.
"Movie studios are now saying, 'What can I do to reach out and build awareness?' "EDITOR'S NOTE: FUNNY. ALL I HEAR IS SOMETHING THAT SOUDNDS A LIKE LIKE A PROLONGED, AGONIZING SCREAM...... says Peter Sealey, a professor at University of California's Haas School of Business and former marketing head at Columbia Pictures. "They're trying to get that mercurial, hard-to-find audience who are living on their mobile devices."
How studios are using small screens to tout big movies:
For Poseidon, out last Friday, Warner Bros. teamed with Time Warner sibling AOL for a polling promotion that asked users how they would respond in the movie's life-or-death situations.
Columbia Pictures' publicity blitz for Friday's release of The Da Vinci Code included the launch of online puzzles and riddles on Google. EDITOR'S NOTE: SOME OF THE PUZZLES WERE COMPLICATED, TOO. IT WAS FUN. (AND GOOGLE WAS SO HARD TO USE, I USED ASK.COM FOR MY SEARCHING. SO THAT KINDA BACKFIRED, I GUESS)
"Smaller-screen devices have provided us with an expanded opportunity to reach our audiences," says Disney spokesman Dennis Rice.