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Scott Mendelson

Scott Mendelson

Posted December 31, 2008 | 11:44 AM (EST)

End of 2008 wrap-up Part II - Trailers, Posters, and Two Films of Dubious Distinction.


Best teaser: (tie) Star Trek and Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince



One was a subtle and chilling teaser, one that featured almost no footage of the lead and absolutely no shots of the young supporting cast. It was the kind that could only have worked with an established brand that audiences trusted. The other was a barn-burning hail Mary pass, a chest-thumping call for respect. Ironically both were for titles that were supposed to open this holiday season but ended up moving to the summer.

Best Trailer: Quantum Of Solace


The second preview, the full trailer, was a rock-solid action piece that emphasized human drama amidst the carnage. Call it false advertising, but the trailer gave pretty much every emotional beat that the film had to offer. It accomplished two things - it hid the fact that the movie was pretty much non-stop action and it's emphasis on drama allowed many of the action beats to be left unspoiled in the film itself. A classy, emotionally compelling trailer for a movie that fell short in both areas.

Worst teaser: The Spirit (B)


This would qualify as a trailer, except that it tells you nothing about the plot or the characters. It's just two minutes of hot women making moves on our hero, complete with 'come-hither' lines that were cheesy before high school. Proof-positive that Frank Miller apparently got laid less in high school and college than the average nerd.

Worst trailer: Watchmen (B)


The initial teaser, released with The Dark Knight back in July, was a silent, visual splendor, ironically set to music that originated from Batman & Robin. This second trailer, however, had dialogue. Lots of dialogue, most of it on-the nose and not a little cheesy. With it's ample plot spoilers, its 'here's the storyline in the simplest possible terms', and its healthy sampling of Rorschach's goofy vocals (which sounded worse than Christian Bale's McGruff The Crime Bat voice), this had the odd effect of making a very smart story look very dumb.

Best Poster: Terminator: Salvation
Released rather recently, this is a rather nifty video poster. But, even taken as a pure visual, the final image is striking and would still be the best poster of 2008. Click on the poster for a taste of the future of marketing. Everything released from this film thus far indicates that this is not a cheap cash-in, but a real attempt to restart the franchise.

Worst Poster: The Dark Knight
Sorry sports fans, the copious Batman-centric posters from this Batman sequel failed to produce a single keeper (the single flaw in an otherwise perfect advertising campaign). But the worst offender ironically became the main posters. With its visual center of attention being a giant wheel, and Batman stuck in a silly stretched out pose, this pales even in comparison to the Batman Begins artwork (specifically the Batman plummeting downward shot).

Even goofier was the second main poster, which had Batman triumphantly standing outside an apparently bombed building that has a flaming bat-signal in the middle. Bad enough that the poster needed to have cheese ball writing on the top ("Welcome to a world without rules"), but the image by itself seems to indicate that Batman is responsible for the destruction in the background (burning bat insignia = gang tagging sign). The Joker-centric posters were deliciously disturbing, but no one was able to get an artistic handle on the main character.

As we wind down 2008, we will take a moment to mention two films that began and ended the year, that managed separate but wholly fantastical feats never before seen in the film world thus far. Let us take a moment to reward this special brand of excellence.


Distinguished Awfulness - One Missed Call.
It wasn't any worse than the usual 'bad Asian remake/knock off of bad Asian horror' genre picture (as opposed to good Asian remakes like Dark Water). But this first major release of 2008 (1/4/08) did manage the astounding feat of securing a ZERO (0%) positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Zero out of seventy-two reviews. Ladies and gentlemen, in my ten years or so of following Rotten Tomatoes, I have never, ever seen such a monument to mediocrity. And that's really what it is. If the film had been spectacularly awful, surely someone would have enjoyed the gonzo stupidity and given it a pity B-/C+. If it had been noteworthy in any way, surely some critic would have given it a positive review just to increase exposure for their website. But, no, it was just there, lifeless and pointless and completely unworthy of merit or notice.

Distinguished Emptiness - Delgo
Budgeted at $40 million and starring such vocal talents as Burt Reynolds, Anne Bancroft, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Freddie Prinze Jr, this animated film was distributed by Freestyle Releasing. If you've never heard of them, you will now never forget them. For whatever reason, Freestyle Releasing decided to launch Delgo on 2160 screens, but they decided not to do that thing... that thing were you tell people that your movie is coming out... oh, yeah, advertising! So, without advertising and with no built-in awareness, Delgo was unleashed into theaters on December 12th, 2008, to the deafening sounds of... nothing. Silence would be too kind a term. The opening weekend tally- $511,920.00. By far the worst opening for a wide (1000+ screens) in the history of modern box office.

Let's do the math. Per screen average - $237 per screen/theater (not that anyone was showing this on multiple screens). Per screen per day average - $79.00. Toss in five showings a day (it's a short film): $15.80 per showing. National average movie ticket price: $6.88 per ticket. So, using those numbers, we can surmise that each showing of Delgo over that opening weekend had 2.3 people in the theater. Fine, let's acknowledge cheaper matinee and kids prices and round it up to three. On the opening weekend of Delgo, the average screening was attending by three people. Wow.

Scott Mendelson