That no one is much talking about CinemaCon is wholly due to Rogers and Cowan’s mishandling of it. And that guffaw has direct effects on movie industry revenue.
The PR and Marketing firm is handling many aspects of CinemaCon which is the rebranded ShoWest. An annual gathering of NATO, the National Association of Theater Owners, convenes in Las Vegas next week. Perhaps advising the change of their organizational moniker fell off their list of things to do.
The biggest thing to come out of CinemaCon 2012 were the complaints that the high frame rate of The Hobbit made it look like H.R. PufnStuf. The reps at Rogers and Cowan, responsible for bringing journalists in, didn’t stem the tide of what was going out. During the course of the four days, the only activities I viewed the reps performing were stuffing their mouths while on Twitter and chumming up to select journalists.
Credentials were not doled out equally with some journalists getting “Admit One” passes that allowed them into studio presentations. For those who the reps did not favor, coverage was limited to the lackluster exhibit rooms and business seminars on security and projection. Rogers and Cowan had failed to insure that the team of volunteers and security crew knew that media could access seminars so journalists were always stopped on entry for approval. If journalists weren’t assertive, they would have been left to covering casino operations instead of CinemaCon.
Used to invigorate theater owners and get them excited about the prospects of the summer’s bloom of movies, celebrities are brought in to showcase their upcoming projects. Many of those celebrities were lured to CinemaCon with a promise of an award. Charlize Theron, Jeremy Renner, Chloe Grace Moretz, Michelle Pfieffer, and Sylvester Stallone were some of the honorees. All their movies disappointed at the box office. Theron did have a success with Snow White and the Huntsman, but her other movie, Prometheus, was an undeniable disaster.
Does Rogers and Cowan even watch movies? Most likely responsible for celebrity attainment, that the reps chose to propagate Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and Prometheus evidences the rampant ineptitude.
As far as the criticism levied against The Hobbit, the blame falls both on the parceling out of access to the screenings as well as the failure to counter the criticism. As mentioned above, only those who Rogers and Cowan thought were worthy enough in their eyes were allowed access to the studio presentations. So the dissenting voices of Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.com were the only ones that got out.
These big outlets report with the “Scoop first” intention which often foregoes accuracy in the race to be the first. For example, Deadline reported that Charlize Theron scowled when Seth McFarlane mentioned her in his “I saw your boobs” song at the Academy Awards. Comments lambasted the reporter because the reality was that Theron had taped the segment for the benefit of making the segment funny. A minute later she would be in a different dress and on-stage dancing with Channing Tatum.
So at CinemaCon, the footage shown was raw without color correction and without much art design and CG work. To review footage was unfair, and it could be argued that those initial comments had a detrimental effect on later critical and revenue performance of the film. That Rogers and Cowan did not do damage control for something that clearly arose from their actions speaks loudly to their poor handling of CinemaCon.
Press releases for CinemaCon went out early in the year and as more celebrities were attained for their awards, they were sent out. But the major outlets have failed to give much mention. Robert Downey and Tom Cruise who will kick off the summer season won’t be there. Downey’s Iron Man 3 is already being called the summer’s biggest movie and is tracking 100 million for its opening weekend. While not chopped liver, this year’s awardees including Melissa McCarthy and Hailee Steinfield don’t exactly get hearts pumping. Who the heck is Aubrey Plaza? And Joseph Gordon Levitt is given an award not for his great acting but for directing his first film.
It’s no wonder that Deadline gave an “ehh” blurb on the final awardee announcement.
So when box office receipts don’t add up to a bounty, criticism should be directed not at the movies but Rogers and Cowan for debilitating the industry.
Late breaking note on Aubrey Plaza: she crashed the MTV awards and was ejected. More egg on Rogers and Cowan’s face.