Reaching voters; Ignoring the public

Michael Cieply (fast becoming one of my favorite writers at the NYTimes) has two excellent stories that have been published in the last couple days.

First is his advice on how to reach potential Oscar voters who might not be in LA or NYC, where the majority of “For Your Consideration” ad buying is taking place.

Second is an examination of how many of this winter’s most-buzzed about movies aren’t – and won’t be any time soon – playing near the majority of the audience, with some of the films still only in two or three theaters nationwide until later January.

To Che or not to Che?

che-posterHere’s my current dilemma: I would love to write an MMM column about Che but don’t feel like I know enough about the movie to do that effectively. There’s one trailer, a couple of posters and some other material but there’s no one website where I can be sure that I’m up to date on the movie’s marketing in its entirety.

I know that IFC, which is distributing the movie in a “roadshow” type fashion with limited engagements and the occassional splitting up of its two parts, isn’t doing a whole lot of traditional marketing for it. But that makes a web presence all that much more important. There needs to be some single point where I can find information on those engagments, the press it’s earned and what marketing materials there are.

So I’m asking for one of two things:

  1. Someone to drop me a good URL where I can get up to speed on the movie’s marketing.
  2. Someone who is up on the marketing campaign to write the column themselves. Write it up in Word format and email it to me, including the URL of your blog, Twitter feed or whatever and I’ll post it as a Guest Column or something like that. If you’re passionate about Che and want to share that, here’s your opportunity.

Either option is good for me so have at it if you’re interested. If I get more than one submission I’ll publish them all, probably all on the same day. I’ll set a Wednesday 1/7 deadline for this and then publish whatever I get, if anything, on Thursday.

Movie Journal: 2 Days in Paris

French beauty Julie Delpy wrote and directed 2 Days in Paris, so it’s not that big a surprise that it winds up playing a lot like Before/After Sunrise. That’s not to say it mimics the formula from those films entirely, just that it carries the same sort of attitude.

In 2DIP, Delpy plays one half of a couple who, after vacationing in Venice and other parts of Europe, stop by her parent’s home in Paris. This of course leads to all sorts of problems between her and her boyfriend (played by Adam Goldberg) as they run into some of her exes and otherwise find their relationship tested by being on ground that’s at once familiar and not so much.

It’s a loose, natural film with good performances from both the leads that gets you involved in their characters and their well-being. Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of walking-and-talking type movies about relationships.

Movie Journal: Ocean’s Thirteen

Not as fast and loose as the previous two movies in the series, Ocean’s Thirteen is still quite enjoyable. Clooney, Pitt and the rest of the cast all look like they’re still having fun just hanging out and making a heist movie together, though the script is even more tenuous than it was previously.

The best performance, though, is Al Pacino as the villain of this outing. He actually manages to find a balance between playing his character big and yet not going into caricature, something he’s had problems with in the past.

Asking the question nobody else seems to be

  1. Consumerist’s primary source of revenue is advertising sales.
  2. Consumerist has been sold to Consumer Reports for an unreported price, but it’s probably in the $1 – $2 million range.
  3. Consumer Reports does not accept advertising
  4. Consumer Reports says its audience is aging, meaning they’re soon going to see drastic subscription fall-offs if they already haven’t.

So how does Consumer Reports intend to pay for its purchase and the continued operations of Consumerist?

Maybe I’m missing some part of this equation but it’s been bugging me since I first read about it.

Authority is in the eye of the beholder

gavelRobert French absolutely destroys the idea that “authority” when it comes to online media is something that can be objectively measured.

In reality authority is all about relationships. It’s not something that can be gleemed from Technorati or Google or any other algorithm. Those tools can help you find things and certainly have their place but it’s not the end of the discussion. Search uses authority to deliver results but after you see what’s returned you have to turn on your brain. See what’s there and then judge for yourself.

The funny thing is that most of the voices now calling for things to be ranked by some objective measure of authority are the same ones that have benefitted most from the tearing down of the old measurement system. It used to be you were an authority only if you made your way past the gatekeepers of the traditional media world. If you hadn’t published an article in a respected journal, if you hadn’t been quoted by the New York Times, if you hadn’t appeared on “Meet the Press”… all of these were used to judge whether what someone had to say was worth listening to.

Then all these new media upstarts came along and were breaking down these walls. But as they see themselves become more and more irrelevant and see more and more challengers on the horizon they want to build their own set of walls to make sure that people are paying attention to their stuff but not that of the new new influencers.

Decide what you want to pay attention to yourself. Judge who really knows what they’re talking about by what they say, not by some ranking system that you don’t know the basis of. Subscribe to everything and then pare it down from there.

MMM in 2008

mmm-logo-red-name2008 was an interesting year for me and MMM. Two things stick out in my mind as sea-change moments.

First, around May of this year I decided to get out of the daily news business here on MMM. My full-time job along with a desire to re-prioritize my life a bit led me to decide that trying to keep up with the other movie writers in breaking the latest trailers or whatever. I couldn’t, so it wound up being two or three days until I mentioned a new poster for X movie had been released.

Instead I decided to embrace what it was I really wanted to be: a columnist. Between June and December the number of full columns I wrote increased dramatically. All the new trailer posts were eating into the time I really wanted to spend writing these columns and I’m still very happy with this decision.

Second, that full time job I mentioned changed in August. I left MWW Group and became Director of Marketing at My experience there has been fantastic. I work with smart people who are passionate about sharing their opinions on movies and encouraging others to do likewise. I’m very much excited to start 2009 with them and get things going along my own path.

2009 is going to be an exciting year on a number of levels. I’ve got some good plans in mind for Spout and some good plans in mind for MMM and hope they all come to fruition.

As part of the anticipation for 2009 I’ve gone ahead and updated my About/Contact/Pitch page as well as my Best of MMM page. I’m also including below, if you’re interested, a complete list of the MMM columns I published this year. Winds up being a little under one per week which, considering what 2008 has looked like, I’m extremely happy with.

  1. The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie
  2. Cloverfield
  3. Fool’s Gold
  4. Jumper
  5. Semi-Pro
  6. Smart People
  7. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  8. Iron Man
  9. Redbelt
  10. Speed Racer
  11. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  12. Sex and the City
  13. Kung Fu Panda
  14. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan
  15. The Incredible Hulk
  16. The Happening
  17. The Love Guru
  18. Get Smart
  19. WALL-E
  20. Wanted
  21. Hancock
  22. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
  23. The Dark Knight
  24. X-Files: I Want to Believe
  25. Step Brothers
  26. Pineapple Express
  27. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  28. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  29. Tropic Thunder
  30. Burn After Reading
  31. The Duchess
  32. Eagle Eye
  33. Blindness
  34. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  35. Rachel Getting Married
  36. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
  37. Happy Go Lucky
  38. W.
  39. Changeling
  40. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
  41. Quantum of Solace
  42. Punisher: War Zone
  43. Doubt
  44. The Day the Earth Stood Still
  45. Yes Man
  46. The Spirit

Broadway goes interactive to engage fans

broadway-street-signThere are obviously a lot of parallels between the worlds of feature film and the “legitimate” stage, even if by that last term you mean the flashy, star-studded brands that grace Broadway and similar venues in Chicago and other cities. Which is why there are some interesting points for marketing types in any field, including movies, in this NYTimes story on some interactive strategies being utlized by those putting on Broadway shows.

Putting aside some of the journalistic choices in the story (the writer felt the need to put “mobile marketing” in quotes and make it sound like an esoteric term used by just a few wonks) it’s educational to look at some of the ways these theater marketers are trying to connect with their audience, many of which mimic what movie marketers have used.

First you have people like David Mamet who wrote a blog connected to his recent play “November.” The blog was written by Mamet, who was writing as the main character in the story, making it an extension of the story begun on the stage. This sort of tactic is always one of my favorites since it gives the audience something to latch on to either before (as a way to become familiar with the characters) or after (as a way to keep up with what’s come after) and has been used for movies like Cloverfield and others.

Then you have other, more passive tactics like the use of MySpace pages or YouTube channels as distribution points for blogs that are written by the producer or director as themselves or behind-the-scenes videos. This is a more traditional way to go but has a lot of value. Every one of those pages adds to your online footprint and creates another touch-point for the audience to find out about the show. The key, though, is to actually communicate via those platforms and not just blast stuff in the way of old-fashioned marketing. These are communication channels, but that communication has to go both ways.

Finally you have tactics that are more cute than they are actually useful. Take the creation of Shrekster, a social network built around the stage version of the successful movie series. All the characters have pages and fans can join in and connect with them. I’ve never been a fan of this type of tactic for a number of reasons. While you can make a case for profiles of fictional characters, the fact is that additional networks will never have the adoption you’d see if you did this as, say, a Facebook application. Plus, while this can be an interesting way for people in Chicago looking forward to the show can connect with those that have seen it already in New York, when the show closes it’s unlikely this will be maintained and so everyone loses their communications hub.

Broadway is losing audience faster than Hollywood is so it’s good to see them trying new things. Each of these tactics deserves their own exploration and something like that will be coming in the new year.


In case you were looking for a way to direct the energy you don’t have on this Monday between holidays, you can now watch the Marx Brothers classic Horse Feathers on Hulu.

Starting at the beginning

One of the…oh I’ll just copy and paste this:

One of the goals of the Brothers of John the Steadfast is the creation of reading groups whose intention is to get with a Pastor and read through the Book of Concord. For those people who do not have access to a reading group, it occurred to us that we might try creating an “online reading group” right here on the BJS site.

Got it?

Well if you’re one of those people like me who likes to start things fresh, the BJS guide to reading the Book of Concord started this week at the beginning. Yesterday we read the three Creeds and today is the Preface to Luther’s Small Catechism.

If this were a comic book company bringing on a new writer to a series, I would describe this as a “Perfect jumping on point for new readers.” But I’m not so I won’t. Nope, not at all.