In this week’s New Yorker, Tad Friend (we’ll read anything by him since that awesome 2003 article Jumpers about suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge) has written a totally bananas and utterly fascinating article about movie marketing, focusing particularly on Tim Palen, who is really good at it as co-president of Lionsgate’s theatrical marketing. This sucker is about 10 pages long, and while we strongly recommend you read the whole thing, we’ve culled a few interesting tidbits for your afternoon snack:
EVERYBODY PUTS MALKOVICH IN THE CORNER: “If we weren’t making decisions based on marketability, John Malkovich would be in every movie,” a top studio marketer says. “Great actor, but not someone you want to see half-naked in the sheets next to Angelina Jolie.”
WE ARE ALL ONE OF FOUR THINGS: And now, for the most weirdly and clinical (and probably correct) breakdown of audience demographics:
The collective wisdom is that young males like explosions, blood, cars flying though the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, ‘you’re so gay’ banter, and sex – but not romance. Young women like friendship, pop music, fashion sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance – but not sex (though they like to hear the naughty girl telling her friend about it). They go to horror movies as much as young men, but they hate gore; you lure them by having the ingénue take her time walking down the dark hall. Older women like feel-good films and Nicholas Sparks-style weepies: they are the core audience for stories of doomed love and triumph of the human spirit. They enjoy seeing an older woman having her pick of men; they hate seeing a child in danger. Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most ‘review-sensitive’: a chorus of critical praise for a movie amied at older women can increase the opening weekend’s gross by five million dollars. In other words, older women are discriminating, which is why so few films are made for them. Older men like darker films, classic genres such as Westerns and war movies, men protecting their homes, and men behaving like idiots. Older men are easy to please, particularly if a film stars Clint Eastwood and is about guys just like them, but they’re hard to motivate. “Guys only get off their couches twice a year, to go to ‘Wild Hogs’ or ‘3:10 to Yuma,’ the marketing consultant Terry Press says. “If all you have is older males, it’s time to take a pill.”
HOW NOW, ZELLWEGER? The new Renée Zellweger film New in Town was originally going to be called Chilled in Miami. Oh and also? Tim Palen (who Mr. Friend must have spent an awful lot of time with) made a decision to delete a joke about a barfing cat from the trailer.
AMERICA LIKES CHEESE: Our hands down favorite graph from this piece:
“He referred to ‘Good Luck Chuck,’ a critically lambasted R-rated comedy starring Jessica Alba, as ‘There’s Something About Jessica,’ and cut the TV spots to emphasize Alba’s tumbles and mishaps. “We cheated it and got the film open, which was kind of a feat,” he says. “America likes cheese.” (When I e-mailed Palen to tell him that I’d watched the film, he replied, “Can you get workman’s comp?”).