Friday, July 18, 2008

'Knight, Mamma

So, The Dark Knight finally hits theaters today.

I don't usually pose "am I the only one who thinks..." questions around these parts, but I guess I'm a little too curious about this to let it slide: Does anyone else think that doing product tie-ins for this movie was a really bad idea?

I actually side with Warner Brothers on their belief that changing the promotion for The Dark Knight -- the movie itself -- was unnecessary and would've been against the wishes of Heath Ledger. It made sense to keep advertising the film the same way they would have had he not died back in January.

But come on -- Dominos Pizza ads featuring silly little quips about the Joker? That was stupid to begin with, given the very dark tone of the movie, particularly the psychotic, murderous nature of the Joker character; it'd be like doing McRib commercials mentioning Hannbal Lecter or maybe a Viagra ad with Frank Costello from The Departed. But Ledger died -- and they're turning his final full performance, the one that may very well get him a posthumous Oscar nod, into a punchline to sell pizza?

I get that it's a superhero movie above all, but for once can the greed-hounds at the studio show a little class, subtlety and restraint?

Speaking of subtlety, Mamma Mia also prances into theaters today.

I got dragged to see the Broadway version of this a couple of years back; I can honestly say that it left my ears bleeding and my brain running out of my nose. As I watched it, I kept silently questioning whether I'd been hit by a car on the way to the theater and there was my hell: trapped in a theater, watching awful acting and listening to fucking Abba for all eternity.

On the plus side, at least the women who were either unable or unwilling to pay for that second seat on the plane (the one needed to provide extra room for their extra fat asses) and couldn't make it to New York to see this monstrosity can now giddily dance down the aisles of their local theater. Best of all, they'll be just a few steps away from a concession stand.

Take a chance on this.


Suzy said...

Super Trooper was really ABBA's best song.

I agree with you on the Domino's thing, but are you really surprised? Despite some in the media's attempts at framing Ledger's death as a sad, sad thing, the constant mention of tox screens and drug-relatedness rendered his death as just another "look-what-fame-does-to-you, next topic" story. In the advertisers eyes, I'm sure, the earth has settled over his grave and his image as the Joker as a weighty-legend of Hollywood can be used to sell, sell, sell!!!! Morons.

Stephen said...

Par for the course. They had dead John Wayne selling coors light a few years back and Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner. I say "meh." Domino's sucks anyway.

Which is the better line?
"This town needs a better class of criminal." - Ledger's Joker

"This town needs an enema." - Jack


Suzy said...

enema. still the most clever.

Girl With Curious Hair said...

Regardless of Ledger, those commercials are tacky. Most of the reviews I see are labeling the Joker as a 'terrorist', and now they are using the character to sell pizzas and I think insurance. Nice.

Regarding Mamma Mia: Why Colin? WHY?!

Anonymous said...

Even though Jack is one of my favorite actors, Ledger's Joker makes Nicholson's look like Barney!!! And that's no small task!
I'd like to see this movie, but the Batman movies were always something my father and I saw together since I was a kid. I lost my father to Cancer 5 months ago. That coupled with the death of Heath Ledger would make it too much for me. Maybe I'll see Mamma Mia instead ;) At the moment, light and airy musicals sound good!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I heard that Spring Awakening may become a movie. What do you think of that? I absolutely love every aspect of this brilliant show. Howver, they're popping out movies based on musicals one or 2 times a year! The only way I'd be for it is if Sheik and Sater would be actively involved so their vision would not be compromised.

Sorry I digressed so much from your original topic ...

SherryB said...

Can't speak for Mamma Mia but I had the same reaction to the Dominos promotions--a disgusted double-take.

Dave B. said...

Chez,Suzy. I find myself nodding along with you both.

We've had quite enough advertising, product placement, and corporate shill-dom to last us a few eternities.

Additionally, I really could care less about most of the Hollywood types in the first place.

Sure they may be talented, good looking, rich people. But thousands more people die the same ways they do in the real world, and there's no hubbub about them.

Maybe Dylan said it best: "..all the people you used to know, they're all illusions anyhow."

Only now those illusions are selling us pizza.

Anyway, I'm sure Batman will be good.

dick_gozinia said...

You are correct. The Dominoes commercials are sooooo awkward, Chez. I'm guessing that they had the product tie-in lined up months before the movie even wrapped filming, and its not like WB was gonna give that money back to Dominoes! But when you see how big of a sociopath the Joker is, and you've got a 16 year old girl telling his henchmen, "Tell Joker he owes me a new car", the resulting scene that inevitably pops into your head isn't pretty.

Anonymous said...

I saw this at a midnight IMAX showing...and WOW. Amazingly done, and a brilliant final performance by Ledger. You laugh, but you're also extremely creeped out. No wonder he had such a tough time afterward, I can't imagine the place he had to go to in order to draw this character out.

I may be biased, I loved the first movie and have been waiting anxiously for the second one since then. To me, this was absolutely worth showing up to work on 3 hours of sleep.

I do agree with the pizza thing though. They could have done without that. I remember first seeing that commercial and thinking, "Really? Did you really have to go there?"

slouchmonkey said...

stephen, I choose B.

After Mamma Mia, did you feel like invading Sweden?

Anonymous said...

The Dark Knight - Amazing movie. Best of the year so far.

Heath Ledger's performance overhyped? - No. Absolutely and delightfully chaotic portrayal from beginning to end.

Are commercials using a character's likeness in which the actor depicting that character died within the year tacky? - Yes.

Making money off a corpse is like having sex with a corpse. You may get something out of it, but others will generally think you're sick and wrong for doing it. This doesn't change in either scenario if you pay the family of the deceased for rights to the corpse.

P.S. Most big-screen musicals are awful, and I doubt Mamma Mia! is an exception.

Ref said...

Since when is ABBA somehow emblematic of Baby-Boomers' musical tastes?

Otis said...

The Dark Knight was rather good. I don't know about an Oscar, but Ledger's performance was damn good.

As for the pizza ad, I am reminded of a comment someone posted earlier in the week. one of the reasons the guy liked Hell Boy was because the name alone limited promotional tie-ins.

Cheetah Chrome said...

Domino's using a homicidal clown to pimp their product? Par for the "What were they thinking" course. Do you remember a while back when Tommy Hilfiger was using the talentless Lenny Kravitz' crumby, dancy redo of "American Woman" in their commercials? ...all red, white and blue, right? Problem was, it's an anti-american protest song from the Brit band "The Guess Who." Nobody seemed to see the irony dripping off that one. Or how about the Carnival Cruises use of Iggy Pop's "Lust for life"... about a recovering drug addicts new found glory in non-chemical hedonism?

tamara said...

Cheetah Chrome: The Guess Who are Canadian, not British. I'm just sayin'.

As to the rest, should any of us really be surprised that subtlety, moderation and respect are lost ideals when it comes to the making of the almighty dollar?


Yeah. That's what I thought.

Mr. Controversy said...

This movie hurt. It hurt so much, that I could remember nothing but the songs themselves, which were sometimes catchy. I literally stared at the screen and at one point said "Give me your Oscar!" to Meryl Streep.

Needless to say my girlfriend's sister enjoyed seeing me unentertained, and bordering clawing my eyes out, and this is why I don't hang out with her all too much.

tania said...

Dominos just lost my custom. (I prefer Pizza The Hut anyway..)

I'm really looking forward to the Dark Knight opening in the UK. But if the US box office is anything to go by, I may have to murder someone to get a ticket in the first week!

Chez, for shame, having a go at fat women like that!
I don't know why I'm surprised, though. Sniping at the fat is fashionable nowadays - they are the latest 'acceptable' victims of prejudice, and never mind the food industry's complicity in the obesity epidemic.
How about you blame the money-grubbing airlines for their tiny seats, instead? Sitting next to a broad-shouldered weightlifter type is just as uncomfortable, trust me...

Anonymous said...

My question about the Domino's (and others....) tie-ins: will Heath Ledger's fatherless little kid see some revenue from that? If so, then I'm ok with it. The kid got a raw deal and deserves to be set for life, what the hell. Tie-ins and toys are BIG money.