Tad Friend has written a lengthy profile of Lionsgate’s co-president of marketing Tim Palen in the New Yorker that serves as a thorough dissection of exactly how US movie studios trick the public into seeing market their films. Palen was behind campaigns for films such as Oliver Stone’s W., Paul Haggis’ Crash, and the Saw franchise, and seems to relish his role converting art into profit. The piece contains at least a dozen surprisingly candid soundbytes from Palen and other top industry movers and shakers (not just anonymous “sources”), but here’s a few of the best:
Clint Culpepper, the president of Sony Screen Gems, says, “You can have the most terrific movie in the world, and if you can’t convey that fact in fifteen- and thirty-second TV ads it’s like having bad speakers on a great stereo.”
“The most common comment you hear from filmmakers after we’ve done our work is ‘This is not my movie,’ ” Terry Press, a consultant who used to run marketing at Dreamworks SKG, says. “I’d always say, ‘You’re right—this is the movie America wants to see.’ ”
Trailer cutter David Schneiderman says, “We’re in the business of cheating, let’s face it. We fix voice-overs, create dialogue to clear up a story, use stock footage. We give pushup bras to flat-chested girls, take people’s eyes and put them where we want them. And sometimes it works.”
Reading the article is almost like watching one of the Saw films: there’s a lot of stomach-churning subject matter, yet it’s so fascinating it’s almost impossible to turn away.