Tuesday, June 23, 2015

DVD Doppelgängers: Prometheus Vs. Prometheus Trap Vs. Radio Free Albemuth

Recently I was browsing through my local video store (yes, they still exist, and yes, I still go there) and saw this.

Something about this cover seems awfully familiar. I can't quite put my finger on where I might have seen it before though...

Ah. Now I remember.

The designer of the Prometheus Trap cover couldn't have swiped the original more if he tried. It's like he xeroxed the original  cover art and scribbled the world "trap" on it.

Just look at them next to one another! Look at 'em, I say! Both have the same blue color scheme, the exact same washed out, desaturated space-suited leads above the title (their heads are even the same size!), the same crackling energy background and the same black strip in the middle, behind the title. 

But wait, there's more! Amazingly, both feature spaceships tilted at the exact same angle, orbiting planets with identically curved horizons, complete with moons above them. 

I've seen a lot of swiped cover designs in the past few years, but this one is hands down the most blatant. There's no way in hell this was a coincidence. 

There are two reasons why studios do this. One is what I call "Inferred Marketing." A studio makes their advertising look exactly like that of a more popular and expensive film, hoping to evoke an association in the mind of the consumer. They figure in the unlikely event that someone really liked Prometheus, they'll see Prometheus Trap on the shelf and assume it's more of the same, and be compelled to pick it up.

The second reason is "Confusion Marketing." By making their film's cover nearly indistinguishable from that of the original, they hope easily confused consumers will pick up their knock off, thinking it's the real thing.

I also saw this cover in the store, which is pretty darned close to Prometheus as well. Here though the designer took the bold step of angling the spaceship or whatever that is in the opposite direction. Inspired!

Oddly enough even though these two knockoffs are doing their absolute best to ape the look of the Prometheus cover, their plots are completely different.

Prometheus Trap is about a spaceship crew who investigate a derelict ship and become trapped in a repeating time loop.

Radio Free Albemuth has even less to do with Prometheus, as it's a strange, fictionalized autobiography of scifi author Philip K. Dick, set in an alternate reality America.

By the way, get a load of Radio's cast there on the cover. It stars Scott Wilson, aka Hershel of The Walking Dead, looking a good twenty years younger than he did on that show (even though the film was made in 2010). It also stars one Alanis Morissette. Now that's ironic (see what I did there)!

There's something, I don't know... sleazy about all this. I feel like you shouldn't have to trick and bamboozle consumers into watching your movie.

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