Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down, What Drives a “Gnomeo and Juliet” to Market?

The newest animated film, “Gnomeo and Juliet,” is described this way:

An animated version of Shakespeare’s play, where Gnomeo…and Juliet…are would-be lovers from rival garden-based families.

Sure, it’s the “Disney version.” Some people out there seem to love it. New York magazine online announced that this animated film grossed $25.5 million. Already. And Variety’s Justin Chang wrote last week that the romantic comedy restaging – Shakespeare with lawn ornaments – is a winner.

I love animation and I looked at some trailers online. I have watched at least 18 minutes of musical and non-musical trailers, posted to and YouTube, more than 20% of the movie. Based on this viewing alone, the new movie is…awful.

So am I a snob or a marketer? (Okay, DON’T answer that.) But I’m going to put on my pointy marketer’s hat and suggest why these things come to be. First suggestion – that $25.5 million I mentioned earlier. There’s big money in kids’ animation, doesn’t matter how awful it may appear to adults. If the star-crossed garden gnomes are at all popular, the producers are going to make a bundle.

Two, follow the money which leads to adults. They will continue to take children to these films because tragedy’s turned into comedy…even when the comedic vision is itself a tragedy. Families seek out innocent-ish entertainment that will keep their children’s eyes glued to the big screen and their mouths mostly closed. (And families really do enjoy laughing together, which is a Good Thing.)

Third, keep the factory busy. Animation has gained so many great moments in the past few years – thanks to Pixar, for example – that animation studios worldwide have millions of bucks tied up in computer power to produce this high-end stuff. “Computer farms” are, in a word, huge! Nobody wants that investment to sit idle.

These thoughts are conjectural, Honestly, I wish someone out there in Hollywoodland would stumble across this post and set me straight.

Meantime, we’re going to make judgements. The principal at Full Tilt Communications, MaryJane Mudd, wrote after taking her children to see it:

Sitting through dreadful “Gnomeo and Juliet” with the kids, made worse by the fact that my beloved Elton John has sold out…Dreadful, dreadful I tell you.

And because my own appreciation of the film is already influenced by people whose words I trust (e g, Mudd), I am not going to see it until I can watch it for free.

As marketers, though, we ought to keep a sharp eye on what happens because this film is exactly the kind of product where the “people” will vote with their pocketbooks on whether it’s good or bad…and pretty quick, too.

Thanks to MaryJane Mudd for sharing her post-initiating review and note that the gnome photo is by Wikinoby from Wikimedia Commons.


MaryJane Mudd said...

I'm happy I could help. I adore your blog!

Rachel said...

Wow, Richard, I'm impressed that you're willing to give the film your attention in the future if not your dollars today.

As for me, I'm saving myself for the can't-be-too-far-off "Paradise Lost" enacted by bobbleheads.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

You think that would be alright with Milton? We'd need a script treatment, though. You willing?