A couple weeks ago – August 13th – it was announced that 20th Century Fox had decided to postpone the film Idiocracy indefinetely, a nice way of saying it would never see the light of day. Since the film was the latest from Mike Judge, the creator of “Beavis & Butthead”, “King of the Hill” and Office Space, this news was not exactly welcome to fans of his work. Then, just a couple weeks later, the studio decided they would go ahead and release the film as scheduled on September 1st.
What’s that? You didn’t know that? That’s because they shuffled it off into a handful of theaters and basically did no marketing for the movie.
I really don’t know how to explain this. Judge has a built-in fan-base and the movie stars Luke Wilson, who’s pretty popular right now. The only marketing material I could find is this poster for the film. That’s it. No trailer, no website, no nothing. I can’t imagine the movie, about someone (Wilson) who’s cryogenically suspended for 500 years and awakens to a society of morons among whom he seems a genius, is too “dumb” for release. After all, studios keep bank-rolling Rob Schneider movies and someone even gave the “OK” to two movies from the less-talented portion of the Wayans family. Likely it was too smart and, satire being satire, no one knew how to market it. I’ve read nothing but positive reviews of the movie so I don’t know what the problem is.
This has all the earmarks of a movie that wants to be exposed to a larger audience. I’m not saying it’s going to do Pirates of the Caribbean money, but it could find its niche if it was marketed in the right manner – or, in this case at all. As Kate says, were it not for a couple of random blog stories, it’s likely most people wouldn’t have found the movie at all. And a bare minimum of advertising likely would have boosted the awful box-office results. Gordon MacAlpin actually give the best commentary on the marketing of the movie I’ve seen to date in one single panel of his “Multiplex” online comic strip.
This whole thing seems to me like a bit of a purposeful self-fulfilling prophecy. Someone decided the movie wasn’t deserving of a large release or a marketing campaign for its smaller release. So when said movie is dumped into a handful of screens and does poorly that person gets to say “See, it didn’t do well at all. I was right!” This person is an ass.
Does every movie deserve a huge release platform with a huge marketing campaign? No, of course not. But when they come from someone with an existing fan-base like Judge they deserve a chance to find the niche success they might warrent.