Who Made It? Who Cares?

I thought that new silly-looking Tom Hanks movie was a Coen brothers project, but the television marketing for The Ladykillers makes no mention of them. So I figured I was mistaken.

Nope. The movie was indeed made by Joel and Ethan.

So why would the studio fail to mention that this re-make was helmed by some of the most distinctive filmmakers working today?

I’m guessing it was no accident; there’s not even that brief credits card at the end of the ads. In other words, methinks the studio is making a conscious effort to hide the Coens’ involvement from the general public.

This is something I expect to become a trend, and I first noticed it with Master and Commander, whose TV ads made no mention of director Peter Weir. It’s obvious that some marketing genius has done a focus-group study showing that audiences are somehow turned off by knowing the creative force behind a movie.

I think it works a little like “positives” and “negatives” with politicians. The more of a record a candidate (or filmmaker) builds, the more opportunity that person has had to piss people off, and the higher his or her negatives get: “Oh, that Peter Weir. I liked Dead Poets Society and all, but that Fearless was so depressing, and I didn’t understand all the fuss over The Truman Show.” Or: “Those Coen brothers sure are weird.” These are the people, the marketing folks will claim, who are less likely to buy a ticket to a movie based on knowing the director. By not mentioning the filmmaker, the studios think they’re keeping a movie’s negatives down, and thus preventing people from eliminating themselves as possible consumers of that film. And that might be true.

But I’d caution the studios that some of us only move into the “I’d like to see that movie” camp because of the director. I wouldn’t have had an interest in Master and Commander without Weir.

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