Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Oh, my God, they're singing!"

Reports are pouring in from online sources that audiences are fleeing Sweeney Todd in horror. It's not the hard-R level of violence that has them running from the auditoriums; no, it's the singing. "Shit! This ain't a goddamned musical!" one patron was heard to exclaim in Orlando, as he or she presumably departed to the safety of Disneyland. While a tone-deafness to the form that has brought us the $100 mllion-plus grossing hits Chicago, Dreamgirls, and Hairspray since 2002 is a likely contributing factor (along with a certain cultural illiteracy regarding the stage) I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the distributor, which did its best to disguise the film's musicality in its trailers and advertising. In a crowded marketplace the well-reviewed film has gotten off to a pretty good start. But while I am no expert in the field of marketing, I strongly suspect that "Shit! This ain't a goddamned musical!" isn't quite the word of mouth to keep the turnstiles in motion. As if there were any shame in touting the film of a classic musical production, but that's the nervousness of Hollywood beancounters for you.

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