Monday, May 12, 2008

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of Doom?

The big budget family film, Speed Racer, which cost $100+ million dollars to make and approximately $80 million dollars to promote ended up having a fairly devastating weekend at the box office by only pulling in a little more than $20 million bucks in its opening weekend. Much of the film's failure was due to poor reviews resulting from a very poor film ... which is could be worrisome for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because, despite attempts to keep the film under wraps until it opens in a couple of weeks, the first reviews to make it to the InterWeb are less than favorable -- which may result in another Speed Racer-like flop at the box office. The New York Times is all over this story, check it out:


Now comes the part where Indiana Jones dangles over the snake pit of public opinion. Actually, a handful of Web reviewers have already struck at the film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," despite an intense effort by the director Steven Spielberg, the executive producer George Lucas and Paramount Pictures to keep this highly anticipated sequel out of sight until Sunday, May 18. On that day, this fourth Indiana Jones movie is scheduled to make its debut at the Cannes Film Festival with an afternoon press screening, and another one at night. At about the same time, the picture, which opens in theaters on the following Thursday, is expected to be screened for the news media and industry insiders at multiple showings in Manhattan and Los Angeles, while other screenings are scheduled around the world. Mr. Spielberg is unusually fastidious when it comes to protecting his films from advance word that can diminish excitement or muddy a message planted by months of carefully orchestrated publicity and expensive promotions (including, in this case, a February cover article in Vanity Fair, complete with Annie Leibovitz photos of the cast, and leather bullwhips delivered weeks ago to newsrooms). Mr. Spielberg customarily avoids leaky test screenings. Even Marvin Levy, his publicist of more than 30 years, said he had not yet seen the new movie. Still, there it was, at 6:42 a.m. on Thursday: a harshly critical review on aintitcoolnews.com, from a poster who identified himself as "ShogunMaster." Rife with details from the film, the review said, "This is the Indiana Movie that you were dreading." By that afternoon two other less critical, but less than sparkling, reviews also appeared on the Web site. The man who posted as ShogunMaster, reached via the Web site, said he is a theater executive who saw the film at an exhibitors’ screening this week. He spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid reprisal from the studio. Paramount had shown the film to a handful of theater company executives at its Los Angeles lot and elsewhere ... According to Mr. Levy, who spoke by telephone on Thursday, Mr. Spielberg has kept a watchful eye on virtually every aspect of the film's marketing campaign. "He gets involved with everything," Mr. Levy said. "Every TV spot, every line in every ad, every advertising concept." (Among the marketing tie-ins were Indiana Jones fedoras, available at Blockbuster stores.) The current campaign has been engineered to create excitement around the opening date, May 22 — some billboards feature the date, in flame-colored letters, and little else — without telling too much about the film. Last year the movie's producers went so far as to file a lawsuit against a bit player who had publicly discussed the film's plot, which involves the exploits of an aging archaeological adventurer, still played by Harrison Ford, now 65. The campaign has been effective so far. Fandango, which sells film tickets online, said this week that it was "seeing brisk advance ticket sales" to "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," identified as the summer's most anticipated film in a poll Fandango conducted of moviegoers. But a better gauge of success is likely to be the extent of online sales in the few days after the film screens at Cannes — and after many reviewers have weighed in. Tim Ryan, a senior editor at Rottentomatoes.com, which compiles film reviews, said he expected those of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" to surface "maybe an hour or two" after the Sunday afternoon press screening in France. His company will have someone on hand to post them immediately, Mr. Ryan said. As rated by Rottentomatoes, the earlier "Indiana Jones" films enjoyed strong reviews. The worst-reviewed of the three — the second, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," released in 1984 — was still the third-most-popular movie of the year. Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Levy said, may not be the first to know if the aging Indy manages to wriggle past any negative early notices to score another hit. "When a movie opens, he usually disappears," Mr. Levy said. "He usually doesn't want to know all the details about how it's doing."

In the end, reviews are always very subjective. To learn that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the most poorly reviewed film of the series is laughable -- because to me, it is my favorite of the series. That said, you have to listen to some reviews and there are certain reviewers that I trust (mainly, Entertainment Weekly). In the end, I prolly won't listen to reviews from people I don't know or trust (therefore, I've stayed away from reading the review of the movie by ShogunMaster at aintitcoolnews.com -- but you can read it HERE, if you like) and will see the movie for myself as soon as it can. Even with my movie reviews (which I really consider personal opinions) I urge folks to judge for themselves no matter what my take on a movie is. In the end, I don't really believe that Indiana Jones will flop (tho, I thought the same about Speed Racer) but in the Internet Age, I guess you can never be all that sure this far ahead of a movie's release. [Source]