Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Marketing 101

Here's a little marketing quiz for you.

Question: Let's say you run a movie studio that owns an obscure little vampire film from the 1980s. Your movie has quite a cult following, but is largely unknown to the general populace. You feel the time is right to re-release your cult film on DVD, but how can you ensure that it sells as many units as possible?

Answer: Have your design department whip up a cover that's reminiscent of another popular little vampire movie that recently came out. Wait, did I say "reminiscent?" Sorry, I meant "blatant ripoff."

Yep, this is the brand new DVD cover for the 1987 vampire movie "Near Dark." If you've not seen it, it's definitely worth checking out. It's well written and has an awesome cast, but it's absolutely nothing like "Twilight." "Near Dark" is a violent and brutal tale of a kid who gets caught up with a gang of vampiric psycho killers, falls in love with one of their members and eventually becomes one of them. It's a love story too, of sorts, but it's nothing whatsoever like the "Twilight" mope-fest.*

Oh, and the vampires in "Near Dark" don't get all sparkly in the sunlight. They burn.

Let's compare the new "Near Dark" DVD cover with that other cover, shall we, and see if we might find any similarities. Let's see, stormy background? Check. Star-crossed lovers looming large over the title? Check. Scruffy vampire gang at the bottom? Check, check, and check. Brooding hero with golden vampiric eyes? Check. I think that pretty much covers it.

Let it be known that at absolutely no time in "Near Dark" do the hero's eyes ever appear golden, as they do on this cover.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is marketing at its most brazen. Seriously, they might as well have just taken the "Twilight" cover, crossed out the title and scrawled "Near Dark" on it with a silver Sharpie. There's absolutely no way these similarities are coincidental; it was deliberate with a capital "Del." Every aspect of this cover was designed with only one thing in mind: to dupe the hordes of fervent "Twilight" fans into buying it, thinking it similar to their beloved movie. They'll be in for quite a shock when they actually watch it.

They even manipulated the cover so that Caleb (our hero) looks pale and vampiric while Mae (his true love) looks human. This is exactly the opposite of the events in the actual movie. In "Near Dark" the girl is the vampire, and ends up turning the guy into one as well. Talk about misleading!

Also, by aping the "Twilight" cover so precisely, the designers have managed the difficult task of making a 1987 movie look like a pale imitation of a 2008 film! Well done, design team! It's pretty tough to make a 20+ year old movie seem like the copycat, but you pulled it off brilliantly!

What's especially frustrating about this is that in my opinion, "Near Dark" is the superior film. It can easily stand on its own against "Twilight." It doesn't need to leech off its success. "Near Dark" deserves better treatment from its parent studio.

With all that said, I hereby nominate the new "Near Dark" DVD cover for a new award I just made up: The Brayzee! It's the award that honors the most brazen example of shameless marketing in all of advertising. Congratulations, guys! With any luck, you'll take home the trophy at the end of the year!

Just for fun, here' the original DVD cover for "Near Dark," which was released 3 or 4 years ago. It's exactly the same as the theatrical poster. A bit dated, perhaps, but there's nothing wrong with it. Certainly nothing that called for it to be replaced by a clone of the "Twilight" cover.

* Interestingly enough, both movies were directed by a woman. A female director in Hollywood is a pretty rare thing these days, but for two of them to have both directed vampire movies is quite the coincidence!

Another coincidence: "Near Dark" features three actors from "ALIENS": Bill Paxton, Lance Henrikson and Jenette Goldstein (Hudson, Bishop and Vasquez).

One last thing-- at no time in "Near Dark" is the word "vampire" ever uttered. The creatures in the film clearly are vampires, but for some reason no one ever comes out and says it. Kind of like how zombie movies (usually) never contain the "zed" word.

8 comments:

  1. Cheesy, but maybe somebody will accidentally rent or buy a great vampire film.

    It's funny, but "Near Dark" came out the same year as "The Lost Boys." "Boys" made the money, but "Near Dark" was by far the better film.

    My only issue with "near Dark" is that they couldn't kill off Joshua Miller's character fast enough. He was one of the least appealing child actors I can remember - kind of an angst ridden Mason Reese.

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  2. You're right! That cover's beyond blatant, but it might trick the public into buying a *good* vampire movie.

    I didn't realize "Lost Boys" came out at the same time. Lost Boys, by the way, was directed by Joel Schumaker, the visionary who put nipples on the bat suit in the awful 3rd & 4th Batman movies. He also directed "Falling Down (!)." So he *can* make a good movie when he wants to.

    Haw! I totally forgot about that kid. Yes, he was very annoying. As annoying as the kid in "Road Warrior." Why do sci-fi movies always have to have some sort of feral kid? Even the newst "Terminator" movie had one!

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  3. Schumacher's Batman movies were musicals sans music. Schumacher started out as a costume designer for movies. Go figure.

    I didn't like "Falling Down." I realized while watching it that it was a lame remake of "The Swimmer" from 1968. I'm not a big fan of Burt Lancaster, but it's a terrific movie. Not sure if it's on video, but worth chasing down.

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  4. Haw! "Musicals sans music." I like that.

    I've heard of "The Swimmer," but haven't seen it. I'll have to see if it's on DVD.

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  5. I checked Amazon for "The Swimmer" -- it's out on DVD, but it's apparently out of print, so copies are going for a whopping $58!

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  6. It's good, but not $60 good.

    Weird how that works out. You can get every crappy TV show that's come down the pike, but movies like "The Ipcress File" are out of print.

    Warner Bros has the right idea. They have an archives shop of rare movies. You can either download them or have them burn a DVD-R. It makes more sense to do it that way rather than waste the money putting them on shelves only to have them wind up in the 5 dollar bin. I haven't bought anything from the WB, but I have my eyes on the Ron Ely "Doc Savage" movie.

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  7. Yeah, I go to Best Buy all the time and think, "Was there really a demand for a 'Punky Brewster Season 1' box set? Even more puzzling, they sell box sets of shows like "Extreme Makeover" and "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives." Why would you ever want to own a show like that?

    Don't worry, "The Swimmer" will surface (see what I did there?) again eventually. DVDs go out of print all the time, and they always eventually get a re-release.

    About 5 years ago the Al Pacino "Scarface" DVD went out of print, and used copies were going for $150 or more. During this period, every episode of "MTV Cribs" would show some rap star showing off his mansion, and each time there would be a shot of their big screen TV which would just happen to be playing "Scarface." It was like a badge of honor for these guys to own this DVD, and to make sure we all knew they had enough scratch to own it. Then it got re-released and you could pick it up for $10 at Walmart. HAW!

    Ooh, the Doc Savage DVD is out? I need to get that. I've always wanted to see it.

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  8. I rode the hype train to see "Scarface" in the theater back in 1983. What a disappointment. That was the film where Al Pacino laid to rest the understated actor who portrayed Michael Coreleone and cemented his image as the screaming cartoon character he is today.

    The Man of Bronze here:
    http://www.wbshop.com/Doc-Savage%3a-The-Man-of-Bronze-+MOD/1000088107,default,pd.html

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