Flogging a Dead Horse
Originally published October 2005 on the now-defunct ascreennearyou.co.uk
The Guardian has an interesting article that investigates a quote on the movie posters for Guy Ritchie’s Revolver, a film that seems to have been universally hammered.
The quote, apparently, is from The Sun (Online) and states Revolver is “Brilliant … Guy Ritchie back to his best!” James Silver, author of the article, finally tracks down that the quote isn’t really by The Sun at all, but actually part of an ‘exclusive’ package prepared for The Sun’s website by one of the PR companies hired to promote the film by the distributer. It seems that many publications (mainly online) are happy to turn a blind eye to editorial comment as long as free exclusives are sent their way.
This comes not long after Sony were forced to pay $1.5 million to filmgoers in the States after using quotes from a completely fake critic, David Manning, that they’d made up, on their posters for films such as Hollow Man and A Knight’s Tale.
While Sony’s flaw was perpetrating outright fraud, there has, and continues, the practice of deceiving potential cinemagoers (or DVD buyers/renters) by using quotes out of context or from sources so obscure that you’ll never have heard of them. In fact, it’s been suggested that many small publications are ready to quote for hire, exchanging free advertising (they get their name and the name of their publication on a national ad campaign, often featured on TV, radio, posters and billboards across the country) for a positive quote. These people are often referred to as Quote Whores.
I’ve noticed this for a long time with movies I’ve rented or posters I’ve seen. I tend to work from the angle that if they’re not someone I respect (for example, The Sun employed Paul Ross to do movie reviews at one point and when he liked it it was usually a bad sign) or work for a publication I know (I tend to go with either some of the movie mags or the broadsheet newspapers, The Daily Mail or Daily Express quotes get ignored as well those from places like Maxim), the quotes get ignored. If quotes from those sources make it the front of a box without back-up from a major publication you can guarantee it’s bad.
I find it rather galling that the movie business seems to extend it’s use of smoke and mirrors from the screen to the real world when it comes to promoting a film. The good news is it only last as long as it takes for word-of-mouth to make it out, then there’s nothing that can help them.