Some Hollywood types explain the four groups to whom they pitch movies, and what they like and don’t like in a film.
Young men. Movie likes: Explosions, blood, cars flying through the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, “you’re so gay” banter, and sex. Dislikes: Romance.
Young Women. Likes: Friendship, pop music, fashion, sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance. Dislikes: Sex. (Though the article says ” they like to hear the naughty girl telling her friends about it.”) Both young men and women like horror in equal measure, but women prefer atmosphere to gore. Men, vice versa.
Older women. Likes: “Stories of doomed love and triumphs of the human spirit. They enjoy seeing an older woman having her pick of men.” Dislikes: Children in danger. “Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most ‘review-sensitive’: a chorus of critical praise for a movie aimed at older women can increase the opening weekend’s gross by five million dollars. In other words, older women are discriminating, which is why so few films are made for them.”
Older men. Likes: Dark films, Westerns, men acting dumb, war movies. Dislikes: Ummm. They’re easy to please, but hard to get to the theater. “Guys only get off their couches twice a year, to go to ‘Wild Hogs’ or ‘3:10 to Yuma,’ ” the marketing consultant Terry Press says. “If all you have is older males, it’s time to take a pill.”
But it’s the semiotics of the trailers/posters that’s really fascinating. In an effort to make movies appeal to the broadest possible audience, they downplay/overplay the race of the cast accordingly. Horror posters have dark backgrounds, while comedies have white backgrounds with the title and copy line in red. “Floating head” ads need to be rubber-stamped by the big star headlining the movie. Even dramas will be portrayed as comedies because jokes are easier to stuff into trailers than poignant, emotional moments. Oh, and in movie trailers, no one is allowed to die.
Also, I couldn’t let this pass without comment.
Paul Haggis, the writer-director of the 2005 film “Crash,” says, “I came in thinking [the head of marketing] was doing everything wrong. He made the poster Michael Peña screaming over his daughter, rather than selling Brendan Fraser or Matt Dillon or Sandra Bullock. I worried that the trailer, a mood piece about how people have to crash into each other to feel alive, was going to seem like overly significant claptrap.”
Really, Paul Haggis? ‘Cuz it sounds to me like that poster was spot the fuck on.