Super 8’s $37 million opening weekend was a surprise given last week’s soft tracking numbers that rival marketing execs attributed to JJ Abrams’ insistence on keeping plot reveals — and the creature — out of the TV spots. Those skeptics might argue Super 8 could have posted a larger opening weekend with a more revealing campaign, but it is nice to see a filmmaker — and the studio that backed him — vindicated in their decision to preserve the moviegoing experience by not dishing all the reveals. It’s too bad Abrams wasn’t advising disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner, who also would have benefited by fighting the temptation to unveil the creature.
Will more filmmakers try to have more sway in marketing campaigns after Abrams got the studio to agree to his wishes when they made the original script deal for his movie? All big directors are kept in the loop on marketing decisions, but marketing execs I spoke to say filmmakers ought to make the moves and let them do the selling, and this could make things tougher for them. Director-driven marketing certainly leads to outside-the-box campaigns. You can see the genius of David Fincher all over the recent Red Band trailer for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and more recently on a one-sheet that shows Daniel Craig and a rather revealing Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. The shocking images from both teasers have created a tone of danger and rawness that harken back to Fincher’s first big hit, Se7en. Can’t wait to see what he and the Sony Pictures marketing team will come up with next and how much they will reveal for a movie whose release is seven months away.