This week is Gatsby week here at The Blog. Strictly because the new GREAT GATSBY movie by Baz Luhrmann finally hits theaters this Friday in all its 3-D glory. The original book by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my all-time favorite novels. The last adaptation in 1974 starring Robert Redford remains one of my all-time favorite films (more on that Thursday). And I have been avidly waiting for this new version to come out since it was first announced. The cast looks spot on and I am a big fan of Luhrmann, one of the true visual geniuses working in today’s cinema.
Having said all that, I’ve been around movies long enough to detect the telltale signs of a bad movie about to be released:
1. The trailers and commercials emphasize the visuals over the story.
This is an age-old movie truism. If the trailer gives you no sense of what the story is about. If the trailer fails to show us any characters interacting with one another or any kind of dialogue whatsoever, the movie is bad.
2. The release date was pushed back from Christmas to May.
It is never a good sign when a movie’s release is postponed. It seemed especially odd when GATSBY was moved last fall. Normally, we would expect a prestige picture like GATSBY to be good for some Academy Award nominations, at least for sets or costumes. By moving it to 2013, Warner Bros took it out of the running for this year’s Oscars. And they would only do that if they thought the film had no chance of garnering any.
3. The film didn’t receive a MPAA rating until a month ago.
The first thing companies due once a film is completed is submit it to the MPAA for a rating. Until they do so, the trailers and TV commercials are required to carry the “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” moniker. The GATSBY commercials said just that up until about a month ago. Odd considering the film was supposed to be done in time for last Christmas. That means the filmmakers were still editing it up until a month ago. And that usually means they were still fiddling with it because it did not work.
4. The new commercials emphasize the soundtrack over the story.
It is impressive that the film has songs by Jay-Z, Beyonce, and others. It may be an effort by Warners to try and get this period romance to connect with today’s younger audience. But it still means they are steering us away from the story and giving us no hint of what the movie is about. See #1.
5. It is available on On Demand the same day it opens in theaters.
How does this move mean? It means Warners is giving GATSBY the same release strategy that Dimension Films gave PIRANHA 3DD (2012). It is the move of a company who knows the movie sucks and wants to rake in as much cash as possible as quickly as possible before the word gets out.
Don’t get me wrong. I really want this movie to work. I am as excited to see this as most people last week were to see IRON MAN 3. I will still be in line to see it this weekend wearing my 3-D glasses. But I am pretty certain that it will not be a happy experience. I hope I am wrong.
I’ll let you know what I think on Monday.
Why this Song of the Day?
Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen
Because this song always charges me up to take on the day. Because it always inspires me. Because part of me always wanted to be a singer like Freddie Mercury.