Commentary on Movies and TV by Brian Holcomb

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Hey, just to clarify the sneaky ad campaign Paramount is running for Tim Burton's new flick:Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a MUSICAL. As in it's got singing in it, lots of singing. It's a faithful adaptation of a great piece of musical theater by none other than Stephen Sondheim who mostly writes musicals. The thing is, Paramount backed this picture knowing full well that Johnny Depp would be crooning as much as he was cutting throats and instead of say, letting the public know what their product was about, they're playing some dirty pool and just conveniently omitting any mention of the singing aspect from their ads. The argument is that the public may want to see a singing and dancing Johnny Depp or they may want to see a fun Grand Guignol thriller with Johnny Depp camping it up as a homicidal barber but they probably don't want to see both at the same time. The Broadway production directed by Harold Prince also faced a similar problem of how to sell a very unique show that marries the penny dreadful with satire and tragedy but it was always understood that it was a musical. If some found it too bloody next to Oklahoma, well, this WAS the original poster-

Maybe Paramount has the right idea, though. If you've heard of Sweeney, you probably already know it's a famous musical. So, maybe you'll come with the "right" expectations. If you never heard of it before, then Paramount can hopefully con you into coming out opening weekend to see the spooky pic they're selling and by the time you toss your popcorn after hearing three or four fully sung songs it's too late they've got your money. The thing is, I always think these marketing gyus underestimate the audience. Who says there isn't a sizable audience that would be interested in seeing Johnny Depp sing onscreen. They came three times to see him play a pirate and a pirate is only half as cool as a mad singing barber out for revenge with a straight razor.

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