Making a movie about 9/11 presents many challenges. There’s the need to remain faithful to the events and the people who died. There’s the need to be respectful to the survivors and the families while creating a compelling film. And that’s just what goes into the writing and filming of the movie – then you have to sell it.
United 93 managed to be the first 9/11 movie out the gate, and so there was a certain amount of natural buzz surrounding it. Editorialists wanted to write about whether or not it was too soon, and TV pundits wanted to talk about it. The film also had the advantage of being relatively cheap – Universal didn’t need to push the film too heavily to make its money back, which it did. But World Trade Center costs four times what United 93 did, and it’s a more mainstream film, the kind of movie that’s all about the ‘feel good.’ Paramount’s been promoting the film heavily in terms of advertising and media, and they’re trying all sorts of tactics to increase the movie’s visibility.
One of these tactics is appealing to teens and giving the film, as so many films have these days, a MySpace page. Yes, you can friend World Trade Center. Yes, you can have World Trade Center in your Top 8 right next to that 17 year old girl in her underwear. It’s all part of Paramount’s attempt to market the film to the teen market. And the teen market loves it – check out World Trade Center’s MySpace page and see that 16 year old user “mmmBUTTER :]” says that “thys movie l0oks pimp. ima definitely see it!! =]” Now that’s something they can put on the TV ads.
On one hand I think this is going to go down as a minor debacle (for the love of God, at least activate comment approval on the MySpace page so that when I go to it I don’t get startled by the rap song some other dude left in the comments), but on the other I have to give Paramount props, as “mmmBUTTER :]” might say. The movie is a little Lifetime for my tastes, but getting young people to see a movie about – and thus think about – 9/11 is a decent goal. And, one imagines, a fiscally responsible goal. And Paramount is doing more traditional youth outreach, including a half hour TV special on MTV.
The film is tracking strongly with young women – 40% of women in their teens and 20s have “definite interest” in seeing the movie. The strong central love stories between the men trapped in the rubble and the women waiting for them back home obviously appeals to this demographic, and thus we end up with a Coldplay song on the TV commercial. “Every generation has a defining moment,” Announcer Voice says on the ad, and one of them is when we realized that in a just universe Coldplay would have been in Tower 2.
In yesterday’s Flushed Away internet game story I noted that the studios are still trying to recapture that Blair Witch internet magic. That’s tough as it is, but it’s even tougher with a film like this, and when you’re aiming it at teens. I’m just really concerned about a new movie based on The Diary of Anne Frank being made and the publicity people setting up an Anne Frank account. Just imagine being the intern who has to update the MySpace Blog of Anne Frank every day: “ThE dO0rBelL rAnG & Margot W0uLd N0t STFU! Stupid JeRk RATZIS T0tAllY H8 da J00s. OMG WTF?”