On Movie Adaptations and Commercials That Aren’t Trailers

How do you make a passable movie adaptation?
Keep all the good parts.

How do you make a good movie adaption?
Keep all the good parts and remove the bad parts.

How do you make a great movie adaptation?
Keep all the good parts, remove the bad parts, and insert parts that improve upon the source.

watchmenposterfinal

Watchmen, damn what certain critics say, is a great adaptation, and it puzzles me why the things people praised Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter for are precisely the same things they use to condemn this movie adaptation. Personally, I think many of the critics who panned the movie were doing so because they’d secretly thought this was what the public wanted to hear. Now it’s #1, and one of the most intellectually stimulating super-hero flicks ever, guess they were wrong on that one. For those who criticize Snyder for making too direct an adaptation, I believe they’re missing the point. The primary questions asked here are whether technically it’s good and whether the new medium allows people to experience as closely as possible the authors’ vision. Yes on both counts.

Watchmen’s questions, politics and cynicism is just as relevant today as it was in 1985, the super-hero genre was just a vehicle for this expression. Anybody who cares about earth’s problems and has seen Batman should be able to appreciate the movie for what it is: a modern epic masterpiece.

What does this have to do with advertising? Well, we should hope to do the same when representing our products in the field. Don’t just emphasize the good parts, but find a way to take the bad parts and turn them into advantages, bring the product to the attention of otherwise ignorant consumers, and piss its critics off to the point where nobody’s even listening to them because they’re raving like lunatics.

As for commercials that aren’t trailers, I understand this to be the only way to get people to watch them anymore. I’m a nut, and for the most part actually like to watch commercials. I like to sit there and critique and dissect and quip them until there’s nothing left on the screen and snickering from all those around us. For others, I see these as being a dramatic improvement over the old radio or static on-screen trivia they used to run. If you’re going to be sitting in a theatre anyway, and if you’re there with somebody you don’t know all that well, it helps to have something there you can talk about, or pretend to be so distracted by the noise and pictures that you can’t talk at all. From the responses around me, people don’t seem to mind all that much either, so long as the commercials are good and maximizing on the potential of having a larger screen, surround sound, and extreme picture quality.

My one suggestion would be to make them mini-movies themselves. Copy a pixar short, but put your product prominently in it. Capitalize on the enhanced sensory immersion theatres offer, and always keep quality high so that people will remember your commercial after the movie is over, because you won’t have a chance to remind them again for 2 hours. People may still claim they hate to see commercials that aren’t trailers in theatres, but when it’s one of the only places to see them, and when the commercials become standalone worthwhile films, then they’ll become as much a part of the movie-watching rituals as buying pop corn or flipping through the Tribute/Famous orĀ making out in the back row.

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One response to “On Movie Adaptations and Commercials That Aren’t Trailers

  1. Marty Q. Protagitron

    Oh, I definitely agree with you that pre-show commercials do not take advantage of the new medium they’re offered. In fact, they’re often the least clever and amusing TV commercials, just on a larger format.

    Perhaps you’re right, and once ad agencies take advantage and inject some cinema into their commercials, they will become as much a part of the moviegoing experience as popcorn and sticky floors. But maybe I’m old-fashioned, because something still bothers me, and probably always will, about seeing ads in movie theaters as well as being assaulted with product placement during the movie. They’ll have to subsidize the ridiculous ticket costs, or give me a free tub of popcorn, before I stop feeling like a sucker.

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