Monday, January 08, 2007

Synergy and Sexism Mess Up Blood and Chocolate Marketing

So, you've got this cheap (but possibly fun) movie about a love triangle between two werewolves - one a rising leader in the pack and the other the daughter of the old leader - and a human boy. It's based on an older YALSA pick.

Most people are going to see it as an Underworld knockoff as both have to do with werewolves, intrigue, and love stories. This is partly true since the book has been around for longer, but the movie probably finally got the green light because of Underworld's success and is produced by the same people (and possibly "borrowed" some of the werewolf visuals).

In reality, however, the story is more along the lines of a cross between Win a Date with Tad Hamilton and the coming of age stuff in early Buffy episodes (and other superhero type stories). As such, the main target audience will be teen girls (the main audience for the book) and scfi/fantasy/superhero fans that prefer Spiderman and other coming of age type stories over say, The Matrix or The Lord of the Rings.

So, what movie are you going to put the trailer before?


Freedom Writers?

No - apparently you put it before Rocky Balboa.*


I realize there's not a whole lot of movies out there to choose from, but - WTF! That has to be the least likely crossover audience ever.

Needless to say, the audience laughed their asses off.

Just like they would have if there had been a trailer for Ever After or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants before any of the Rocky movies.

Because of course, MGM is doing both movies, and Blood and Chocolate has scifi/fantasy stuff in it, so the perfect place for the trailer is before the umpteenth (and reportedly awful) movie in the ultimate macho macho movie series about the ultimate macho guy doing macho guy stuff.

Yeah, ok. That makes sense.

One person who saw it and laughed and says (same link as above):

I love metaphors, but after watching a couple of minutes of teeny bopper garbage and then having that cerebral title drop on the screen, the absurdity is obvious. You can't give such a stupid looking production a brainy title like Blood & Chocolate.

Completely ignoring the fact that he may be looking for brainier stuff to go with his metaphors, but the "teeny boppers" the film was made for really do not.

Trust me.

A name change might help get more teen boys in, but the the title is perfect for appealing to fans of Midnite, Tithe and The Sisterhood. Which (should be) the movie's target audience.

The book may be sophisticated, it could be great "literature", but the movie is pure cheese...

The book is great - but it's not Jane Austen. It's mostly just really good cheese with a little bit of deep thought thrown in. Like most really good teen books.

It is a PG-13 movie. It is aimed at children, and children are not gonna get this title so Blood and Chocolate is in trouble.

It's aimed at teen girls (and, to some extent, women in their 20's), not children. Note the change from teen characters - which would appeal to mainly tweens - to adults in their 20's - which will appeal to an older audience.

And, I don't know about you, but I can't think of a single teen girl alive that needs "blood and chocolate" explained to them.


Blood and chocolate. Chocolate and blood.

Violence and sex. Sex and violence.

Not terribly complicated.

Which would be why a) I first picked up the book based only on the title and b) there are so many damn books in the romance section that have chocolate in the title. Chocolate is not an intellectual metaphor for sex the way that nosebleeds in manga are, it's a physical one that just about every woman instantly gets because chocolate triggers the chemicals in our brains that tell us something is pleasurable. So, it's hardly an intellectual metaphor. It's about the least intellectual you can be, and still call it a metaphor.

The only reason the film is "doomed" is because it's a movie for a niche audience, and so by definition it's got limited potential. More importantly, it's the niche audience that studios rarely make movies for, so it's the audience that's least likely to be in the habit of going to see a specific movie (as opposed to going to the movies as simply something to do) and there's less potential for easy publicity since it's not as if the're were a whole lot of choices for where the put the trailer.

The solution to that, however, is not to try to market this as another mainstream movie, it's to make more movies that appeal to this niche audience so that, they too, will get into the habit of making a point of seeing specific movies rather than just whatever looks halfway decent on whatever day they are in the mood for a movie.

But then, maybe I'm just weird, because while there are lots of nice serious, mainstream movies lately that I ought to get around to seeing sometime, the only movies that really have me wanting to make a point of going to the theatre are Bridge to Terebithia - because it was my favorite book as a kid- and Blood and Chocolate - which I've also read and really liked.

You know what else, though? If I hadn't read either of the books, I'd be more likely to make sure I saw Blood and Chocolate than Bridge to Terebithia. The trailer for the latter just makes it look silly and sweet (which it's not) but the trailer for the former looks like some nice mindless fun. With lots of pretty eye candy.

And (gasp!) a female lead. One who, unlike Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld trailers, is presented as someone for us to connect with rather than simply watch. I liked the Underworld trailers, but Beckinsale's character was presented in a cross between the typical hero voice over and a damsel in distress explaining her situation to her hero (too much emphasis in the sexy, and not enough on the scary monster who can easily rip your throat out). Vivian is presented as more relatable, but still physically strong and the focus of the story in the Blood and Chocolate trailer.

The fact that I've read the book and know that it may (like the book) manage to be a little bit more than that, is simply the icing on the cake.

*Has anyone else seen trailers for this anywhere else? I can't remember where I first heard about it, but it was recently (nd the movie comes out soon) and I know it was online rather that from a trailer.

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