One of the happy side-effects of my different shiny disc review blogs is that I get the occasional invite to a free preview screening. 300 was a real treat and resulted in me recommending a film I would otherwise have probably avoided on theatrical release. I subsequently received a couple of other freebie invites, which unfortunately coincided with my being abroad, but which was kinda nice!
But the latest, an email headed Fancy a Free Film Screening (read that again, yup it definitely says 'Free Film'), shows just how ridiculous the whole art of film promotion has become!
It turned out to be an invitation to schlep over to Warner Brothers HQ in Holborn for an 'exclusive 5 minute preview' of Speed Racer. Excuse me, but since when did a 5 minute preview constitute a 'free film'?! As added incentive I could apparently take the kids too (oh wow! - a five minute preview full of noisy kids - sign me up, now (not!))
Why would ANYONE want to spend time, effort and money attending this? All I can sense is the total desperation of a promotions company stuck with a real turkey on their hands when the invite attempts to explain the lack of a proper screening thus: "It doesn’t sound like a lot, but bear in mind that there is unlikely to be any advance screenings before it’s release, so it’s likely that this will be the only advance footage that reviewers/bloggers will get to see" Oh well, in THAT case sign me up immediately (sarcasm!)
To be honest, my suspicions that the movie was duff were aroused by an over-the-top advertorial masquerading as editorial article in one of the glossy film monthlies that appeared a few weeks back ('Total Film' I think). Despite the pretty colour pictures, multiple pages and generous cast quotes there was just no substance to the piece and it all seemed a trifle desperate. This latest invite has simply convinced me that Speed Racer, far from being a 'must see' is looking suspiciously like a 'must avoid'.
Note to Warner Brothers: if what you have really is a 'great' film and you're only prepared to show a 5 minute preview, why not maximise the number of bloggers/reviewers/potential audience members you reach and simply post it on YouTube, Vimeo or any one of hundreds of other promotional sites?! Don't assume bloggers are so starry-eyed they'll schlep across London just to do the same thing in one of two staggered screenings at your HQ!