Saturday, October 13, 2012

Profit Was Not the Motive

I still haven't seen the propaganda film Won't Back Down, but someone at Walden Media (or its owner) is getting desperate to promote this box office dog.

You know how movies launch with a bunch of promotion, but then if they don't do well, their distributors stop spending money on marketing and let them die a quiet death?

Well not in this case. WBD has grossed under $5 million (as of Oct. 11) at the box office over the past two weeks, which with almost any other movie would mean it would probably have disappeared from theaters by now, and it definitely wouldn't be enjoying promotion with the largest movie ad in the weekend newspaper two days in a row:

Black and white quarter page newspaper ad for Won't Back Down with photo of Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal

As education historian Diane Ravitch put it, "Apparently audiences won’t pay to see a movie that demonizes teachers’ unions. Won’t Back Down had the worst opening weekend of any film in wide distribution (over 2,500 theaters) in the past 30 years. And attendance has been dropping since then."

Check out the close-up of the top blurb from the New York Post reviewer:

Close up of top headline that reads Sends a valuable message about US schools -- and unions… give this flick an Oscar now, New York Post

And at the bottom of the ad there's even a desperate offer: buy one ticket, get the next one free! Have you ever heard of such an offer for a mainstream movie? And according to Ravitch, the film is going to be taken on a 32-city tour to be shown for free.

After all the money spent on ads plus the free tickets, it becomes clear -- if it wasn't already -- that this is propaganda, not entertainment.

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