Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Promogasms & Adspasms

Remember when DVDs were introduced? Great days. Here’s a disc, stick it in, there’s a menu, press play and Bob’s your uncle, you’re off and watching something disgusting and a bit phallic plop out of John Hurt’s guts in nauseatingly gross detail and super-squidgy-sloppy-squealy 5.1 digital surround sound. All well and good.

But at some point some Hollywood marketing drone realised there was a small oasis in our lives that wasn’t crammed to bursting with adverts, and as a direct result most DVDs now feature about six days of trailers before you even get to the main menu, and this makes The Incredible Suit very very cross. I have a suspicion that Blu-Ray was introduced because standard DVDs no longer have the capacity for all the promogasms distributors want to force into our faceholes every time we watch a film.

Take the following examples of a few DVDs released in the last twelve months:

The Dark Knight – Four ads before the main menu, one of which is for Warner Brothers’ Blu-Ray range, a pointless exercise if ever there was one. Not only can you not see how much sharper the picture is or spangly the sound is because you’re watching it in standard definition, but the standard definition pictures look chuffing magniferous anyway, so why bother? The Dark Knight also features a trailer for Get Smart, in which Steve Carell is extremely unfunny, only this time in a phone box.

Quantum Of Solace – Three trailers, two studio stings and that bloody anti-piracy thing, which – thanks to hairy genius Adam Buxton – now has lyrics and is finally bearable:

Star Trek – Thankfully only two ads, but both for awful films, GI Joe: Rise Of The Cobra and Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (known to normal human beings as GI Joe and Transformers 2), the latter of which features Shia LaBeouf uttering the open goal: “Megatron wants what’s in my mind!”

The worst offender, however, is WALL•E, which relentlessly beats you – and, crucially, your children - around the head with so many adspasms it’s a wonder any of you can stand up. Before you can even get close to the menu there’s a generic Disney promo; a short and very rubbish teaser for Up; another futile Blu-Ray con; a trailer for Pinocchio, and last but by all means least, an ad for the unspeakably awful-looking and badly dubbed The Secret Of The Magic Gourd. Yes, really. And no, I’ve no idea what a gourd is, but on the evidence presented in this trailer it’s a walking, talking turd.

Now you might like to counter my argument by suggesting that you can skip all this shizzle and just go straight to the main menu, and you’d be right. But that’s not the point. I don’t know what the point is, but that’s not it. If anyone knows what the point is, please send it to me along with several commercials for other points I may be interested in.

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  1. I am in the happy position of often seeing a film pre-release knowing absolutely nothing about it in advance. This is by far the best way to enjoy a film. Having said that, £1 spent on marketing results in about £4 in bums on seats, so that is why there are so many trailers. In fact a movie will not get theatrical distribution unless marketing mega bucks are promised. I believe films are made backwards. First get a distributor lined up & finance in order & get the talent. Last of all the trivial detail of shooting the film.

  2. What applies in theatrical distribution must be so on DVDs too. The more trailers the greater the follow on sales. Hollywood is there to make money as a first goal.

  3. Mr Cox brings a fair point. However certain discs do not allow you to skip these ads/trailers and I believe that option should be a right for us. Some of my discs are adverting that i shouldn't steal films, thats fine but i didn't knick this one so why should I be talked down to every time I want to watch (enter film name here).

    Also hollywood is a fast paced business so while the marketing may be worth it in the short term horders like myself laugh at dated ads and trailers on their years old DVDs.

  4. suit I deleted your comment a little too quickly. when you have time if you can give me those details again I'll love you forever.

  5. A reveiwer of films who doesn't know what a gourd is? Goodness me. I learnt that particular fact from the film frequently cited as the greatest british comedy of all time, The Life of Brian, in which a gourd features reasonably prominently. Perhaps worth reacquainting yourself with it.

  6. The Life Of Brian? Never heard of it.