Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Let the Games Begin

Time for another epidsode of Corporate Media Synergy Conspiracy Theory Rock (with all due credit to Robert Smigel):

Has anybody else out there wondered why, after seven merciful years, Universal decided to greenlight another installment in the financially fluid but creatively bankrupt Mummy series? Unless you've been living in a cave for the past few weeks, you probably noticed the onslaught of TV advertising for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, particularly on networks like USA, Sci-Fi, and Bravo -- all of which are owned by Universal.

If you really paid attention, you probably also noticed the suspicious release date for this new piece of over-produced Hollywood dreck -- which takes the tired Mummy formula, transports it to "mystical" China and injects Jet Li into the proceedings.

That date: August 1st -- exactly one week before the start of the Olympic games, which just happen to be taking place in -- where else? -- China, and just happen to be airing on NBC, yet another Universal property.

In other words, Universal -- with, one would imagine, at least a little forethought -- bought itself a 125-million dollar advertisement for Chinese culture at a time when it could translate into not simply bucks at the box office but a substantial secondary revenue from the viewers it just might help drive to the games on NBC.

Because right now, those games -- not to mention China itself -- need all the good press they can get.


Dave B. said...

Interestingly, Jet Li has played two prominent Chinese historical figures in the past: Wong Fei Hung and Huo Yuanjia, in the Once Upon a Time in China series and Fearless, respectively.

What's depressing to me is a country can have such a heroic past and still be a symbol of hypocrisy, oppression, and tyranny.

Wait... that sounds familiar for some reason.

Mr. Controversy said...

Oh, goddamnit! I have ANOTHER reason to bitch about this movie, and be the downer pariah to the rest of my family who want to see this movie.

I mean the first two were great (popcorn fun, but fun nonetheless), but this is just pushing it. (The big dealbreakers, IMHO, Maria Bello and "Directed by Rob Cohen".)

Needless to say, I'll be seeing this, and I'm hoping I can at least say, "Well, that wasn't too bad." instead of, "I can still taste the mind rape."

Manny said...

Are you that dense, Chez? It's because they're going to unveil a new twist to the events at the 08' Games...all gold medalists must now face a three headed, fire breathing Chinese dragon in order to receive their gold medals.

This should prove particularly exciting during the wheelchair portion of the events...those whacky cripples, man. They crack my shit UP.

Aloysius Stitches said...

Did anyone else immediately think of Mortal Kombat as soon as they saw the logo on the poster?

VOTAR said...

When I was in 11th grade (in the early-eighties tail end of the so-called Cold War), my social studies teacher once told us "an optimist will learn to speak English, a pessimist will learn to speak Russian... a realist will learn Chinese."

I think this kind of synergistic opportunism is something akin to all the History Channel documentaries that somehow managed to insert the word "Code" into their titles a few years ago when a certain really desperately boring Tom Hanks movie was in the theatres. I guarantee, watch your local listings: in August, everything on the History Channel, and the Travel Channel, and the Food Network will be about China. Samantha Brown will perkily gush about the unbridled joy of a rikshaw ride, Anthony Bourdain will gross us all out slurping up Panda brains in an open air market, and Bravo will send the Queer Eye boys to give fabulous makeovers to all those poor little asian guys with unfortunate hair and tiny penises... (whereupon Carson and cohorts will be rounded up and shipped by cattle car to a camp in Mongolia, never to be heard from again, to be "re-educated.")

I've seen a lot of images recently of the startling transformation of Beijing that the Chinese government has implemented in the ramp-up for the Olympics. From the infamous "Bird's Nest" stadium by Herzog+DeMuron, the aquatic auditorium made entirely out of plastic bubbles, the Digital Broadcast Control Center that literally looks like a setpiece from TRON, to Paul Andreu's Performing Arts Center (a massive glass and steel "egg" in the middle of a man-made lake), this is no longer the China of folklore -- or even of Chairman Mao and the Cold War. At least as they want to try to convince us. It's like Blade Runner over there now (in more ways than one; astonishing examples of cutting edge architecture and engineering that redefine "futurism" contrasted with a miasma of environmental contamination on a massive scale).

The Olympics will spark plenty of debate over China's heavy-handed methods to force this evolution of their image forward, over whether that society earned this opportunity to invite the respect of the western world. As I see it there is no substantive connection between the zany shenanigans of Brendan Fraser and the gang in a tired third installment of a goofy mummy movie franchise, and the 21st century spectacle the Chinese plan to dazzle us with, other than the suspicious timing. The movie won't need to rely on the hype of the Olympics, or vice versa (the last few Olympics broadcasts were ratings disasters, weren't they?). It'll make plenty of money off the hoardes of movie-going American teenagers who don't even know where China is on a map.

dick_gozinia said...

I remember that when they announced plans for a Scooby Doo movie a few years back, I was really annoyed. Scooby was my favorite as a kid and I didn't need Freddy Prinze douching up my memories of my favorite cartoon.

Then I read an article which basically said that studios green-lit that movie without even seeing a script because the corporate tie-in and toy numbers alone justified making the matter the content. So once the bean counters figured out that they could sell a shitload of Scooby plush dolls and Hot Wheels Mystery Machines, they gave it the thumbs up. And that was well before they talked about a plot, casting, a director, etc. God that pisses me off.

And while I'm at it....fuck Pirates of the Caribbean too. Its a movie based on a Disney theme park ride. When did it stop being the other way around?

@ aloysius - Me too.

Lou said...

Chez - Don't know if you saw the craptastic ad NBC produced that directly ties in the Olympics to The Mummy. I saw it and nearly dry heaved: Ooof.

Lou said...

And here's the YouTube video, now with extra strength hotlink.

Jen said...

all very true. but what i do love about the first mummy movie is that the voice of the mummy was done by blixa bargeld. the screaming, not the talking. no, it was not done by computers or fancy sound machines, that is a human screaming like no other human can. they didn't use blixa for the 2nd or 3rd ones, so those ones can suck it.