How To Sell A Disaster Movie In Three Images Or Less
Earlier today, some new posters hawking Roland "I Don't Get Out Of Bed For Less Than Three Utterly Decimated Global Capitals" Emmerich's upcoming disaster epic 2012 were unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace like, er, a tidal-wave-buffeted battleship being dropped onto the Lincoln Bedroom. And, somewhat surprisingly, they're quite effective in raising our interest level for the film, even though we've already seen, and mostly forgotten about, the so-so trailer they released a few months ago. Why does this three-pronged one-sheets assault work so well, besides the reason it's the last Friday afternoon in August and we're ready to be excited about anything that doesn't involve flaming 3-D racecar parts flying through the screen to virtually cave in our heads because we once cheated Death? Let's break it down and find out!
1. I'm So Sick Of The Totally Boring Health-Care Debate, Can We Blow Up Washington Or Something?
You know what? Yes, we can blow up Washington or something! The movies, especially movies in which Roland Emmerich and about $100 million in semi-convincing computer-generated effects bring about the end of the world, are all about escapism. And who doesn't want to escape from the seemingly endless blather about "public options" and "not being bankrupted by out-of-control doctor's bills" and "everyone having access to a level of care enjoyed by people in Equatorial Guinea"? Wouldn't it be nice if some merciful cataclysm belched forth a tsunami, scooped up an aircraft carrier, and washed away all the annoying health care yakkity-yaks in the White House? Of course it would. This arresting image reminds us that the watery purge we've been clamoring for will happen in November, freeing up more time to debate the next Twilight movie. (Team Werewolf Guy!)
2. Touchdown, Jesus.
Notes from a Sony marketing meeting:
"Why are we putting Rio on the poster? Who the fuck cares about Rio? I don't even know where that is. Chile?"
"Brazil. Pretty sure. Wikipedia."
"Tiny market for us. So why, again?"
"It's the scene where the 100-foot-tall Jesus crashes down on thousands of screaming Christians. Someone's bound to get outraged for some reason. Maybe we'll get the Catholic League to boycott, they're totally nuts."
"Tell me more."
"Or the opposite, they'll love it. End of days, Revelation, all that good stuff."
"Hmm, still don't know. Religion, it's touchy. Don't we blow up New York City in this movie? Can't we put that on a poster?"
"Let's go with Rio."
3. You'll Never Go Broke Showing Los Angeles Finally Getting 'The Big One'
It took us a few moments to figure out we were looking at a devastated L.A. in this poster, even though we can actually see downtown's relatively nondescript skyscrapers from where we sit. The marketers made a bold choice here by not somehow featuring the Hollywood sign as a geographical marker, but one that we think paid off; showing some big wooden letters sliding down a hillside just doesn't have the same impact as seeing the normally unnavigable 10 freeway rendered even more nightmarish by an earthquake-enhanced traffic jam. There's no more visceral fear than the prospect of an extra seven-hundred hours tacked on to one's morning commute. It's a subtle masterpiece. Kudos, Sony, you're getting our fourteen bucks.