Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What happened to the Cinderella Man

The "serious, adult drama" Cinderella Man has had disappointing box office results, and studio executives are kicking themselves for not spending the money on another Spiderman.

What happened? they ask. Were people mad because Russel Crowe threw a cell phone at a hotel staffer? Do we just not have the attention span for anything but mindless entertainment in the summer?

If they care to know, and if they wander my way, I'll tell why I haven't been interested. I don't like boxing movies, and I don't like being told to go to a movie because it's good for me. The first part is a quirk of mine that is hard for any movie to overcome -- the boxing movie has all the predictability of the sports plot with people spending half the film hitting each other.

(Sports plot: Sad sack team needs to win the big game to overcome some difficulty; new coach arrives, whips them into shape, leads them to the championship, at which came one or more of the following events occur: the other team cheats, the star gets injured, the coach gets fired, the Mafia gamers raise the pressure to throw the game. And then the team overcomes and wins. Think The Bad News Bears, and then think how The Rookie transcended the forumula.)

Oh, but Cinderella Man has Important Actors and a Significant Director in a Serious Adult Drama, and if you don't go to this one, you'll never get a Serious Adult Drama again. Unfortunately, none of the promotion for this movie got beyond negative reasons -- reasons not to not go -- to positive reasons -- why should I see it?

I still don't know. Ron Howard, Renee Zelwiger and Russell Crowe have done some good work in the past, which is reason enough to keep an open mind about watching it on video, but appeals to snobbery and civic responsibility just aren't enough to get me to the movie theatre.

The studio also put Grace Hill Media on the case, and they called our paper what seemed like three times a week for a month or so asking for coverage. The callers were polite, but they seemed desperate, and again, there was nothing about what was in the movie for us, but rather how it was an Important Family Film and we ought to support it because it's good for us.

If any studio execs or marketers are listening, here's some feedback.

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