Marketing movies can be very tricky, and the three films featured in this post are certainly some tough sells. Even if two of them are already proven hits with audiences and the other is an inspirational true story quite akin to the much-talked-about current release '127 Hours.' Oh, nevermind, people still aren't really flocking to that terrific movie about Aron Ralston's survival story. They're apparently just talking about it and likely worrying that they might pass out if they go see it.
'127 Hours' has some sort of connection to all three of the following upcoming films, which include the latest Werner Herzog documentary, 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams,' relative because its employment of 3-D to accentuate rock formations makes you wish Danny Boyle's movie did the same, and the indie dramedy 'HappyThankYouMorePlease,' which co-stars '127 Hours' actress Kate Mara. It's 'Soul Surfer' that will be most easily compared, though, for a reason you're sure to know if you're familiar with the story of Bethany Hamilton.
Let's look at the trailer for 'Soul Surfer' first, after the jump, and we'll see how its potentially off-putting plot is completely shielded by the marketers in charge of cutting the thing.
It's no secret what happened to Hamilton (here portrayed by AnnaSophia Robb, alongside Dennis Quaid and Carrie Underwood). She was attacked by a shark while surfing at 13 years old and lost an arm. But after the disappointing box office of '127 Hours,' it's possible that Sony/TriStar is trying to keep that part a secret. The film's synopsis is missing from its website and Facebook page and now this trailer does its best to avoid shots of the shark or of Robb clearly without a left arm, despite the fact that her continued ability to surf like a pro in spite of her handicap is what's truly incredible about her. But 'Blue Crush' made more money than '127 Hours,' so they're going with a safe sell of making 'Soul Surfer' seem like just a movie about a regular girl who rides the waves.
Next up is the trailer for 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams,' easily the best 3-D movie of 2011, and the one you must see in the format regardless of how you voted in our recent poll.
The clearest reason why this is a tough sell is that it's a documentary, but also its primary element of greatness -- how Herzog utilizes 3-D as a very necessary format for what he's documenting -- is also difficult to convey through a 2-D trailer, on the Internet or in an arthouse cinema. And it's unlikely IFC Films would attempt to attach a 3-D version of this trailer to major 3-D movies like 'The Green Hornet' or even 'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,' which itself is technically a documentary. So just take the word of quoted critic Roger Ebert, who normally hates 3-D but makes a loving exception for this, and take note of our recommendation that you must see this mesmerizing film in 3-D or never at all.
Finally, here's the trailer for Josh Radnor's 'HappyThankYouMorePlease,' which won an audience award and rave reviews at Sundance last year and yet doesn't open until after Sundance this year.
How is this one a tricky sell? Judging by how appealing it looks in the above trailer, it's apparently not. However, it also seems more like a generic ensemble film -- a star-less sort of 'Valentine's Day' -- than it probably actually is.
In our review from Sundance, Erik Davis noted that it does indeed sound like "just another rom-com that doesn't bring anything new to the table," before affirming that while 'HappyThankYouMorePlease' actually "definitely has its slower, more conventional moments, there's plenty of surprises left unopened and unexamined -- especially in the completely unique and emotional moments that Akerman and Hale share together on screen." Davis also labeled it a "must-see date movie," probably for even those of us who aren't as easily wooed by a familiar romantic comedy trailer such as this.