Sony Pictures Launches Excruciatingly Stingy “B:LA” Teaser Campaign at Comic-Con, Online

23 07 2010

They Had Me At “Doom”

If you’re lucky enough to be at the San Diego Comic-Con, you suck. If I had just one nerd friend that I could drag with me to things like this, I’d be there too right about now. It seems like it’s crazy as all hell.

So for months, there’s been almost no new images or details about Battle: Los Angeles—which I imagine is in keeping with Marketing 101, or whatever, but it sure has been annoying. As of this weekend, though, those days of information blackout are over; there’s B:LA data literally pouring out of San Diego right now. In fact, I’m not even gonna try to keep up with it. Let the cream rise to the top, and all that. Twelve bloggers blogging, eleven twits a-tweeting.

Viral teaser campaign: San Diego Comic-Con (image yoinked from a Giant Freakin Robot post).

By the way, in an earlier post I said that this joint was dropping on 17 February (F is for February; February is for film failure), but a few months ago Sony bumped it back to 11 March. Peter Scrietta at / Film calls this release date the “coveted 300 slot”; I guess it’s the opening weekend during which 300 broke not one but two spring box office records (it’s all on Wikipedia, if you’re interested). So we shall see.

Viral teaser campaign: San Diego Comic-Con (image yoinked from a post).

Until the Comic-Con dust settles, we the losers who didn’t go can only gnaw on the thrown bone that is the official website. Because the web address featured on all this advertising media demands nothing less, I’ll isolate where I would otherwise incorporate:

Yeah. About that. Okay, so on the main page of the Battle: Los Angeles website, visitors are invited to “enter the site and find out the truth”—which happens to be the exact tagline Sony Pictures used in its Phase I viral marketing blitz for 2012 (don’t strain yourselves or anything). And indeed, when you click through, it’s all standard teaser fare. The fictitious organization. An emphasis on verisimilitude. And lots of video. They have all of this “footage” organized into categories, and I nosed through most of it (if you’re wondering whether that was a waste of time, the answer is yes, it was).

If you’re a glutton for punishment, I recommend the “Eyewitness Testimonials” category. Start with the one I gravitated to right away: the one labeled “Doom”. It’s wrapped flimsily around this premise of a shared event at what I’m gonna go ahead and call a swap meet. So in the course of these “testimonials”, the vendors (or whatever), who include a scruffy, lip-pierced bad-ass and some concerned seniors,  succeed only in conveying that they are bad actors who can only get viral campaign work (with the exception of the black lady—I totally bought what she was selling). And isn’t that the same outfit that George Sr. wore while he was hiding out with the staircar down in Mexico?

Clockwise from top left: inked and street-savvy member of 18-to-24-year-old demographic who knows what he saw; hard-working chaser of the American Dream whose accent lends a sense of mystery and who has seen more than her share in her time on this earth but never anything like what she saw on the day in question; inventor of the Cornballer (¡Si! ¡Si! The Cornballer!), with longtime secretary/personal assistant Kitty Sanchez.


Begin Countdown to “Battle: Los Angeles”

18 02 2010

Next Alien Film By A South African Director Scheduled to Premiere in Exactly One Year

The alien invasion film Battle: Los Angeles (nice colon) is scheduled to hit theaters on 17 February 2011. Which doesn’t even sound like a real year. Regardless, ima be following this like a gay dude on Gαgα. Directed by Johnathan Liebesman, it’s being pitched alternately as “a West Coast Cloverfield“, “Black Hawk Down meets Alien”, or “Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day”. Your blogger meets anticipation.

Here’s something weird: a lot of it was shot in Shreveport, Louisiana, because it was cheaper. I mean, I get that a lot of films get shot in, like South Carolina, or whatnot, for that very reason. But I still think it’s weird when a film that takes place in the world capital of the film industry (well, technically Santa Monica) is filmed elsewhere. The NYT thought it was weird, too. So get bent.

It wasn’t just about the money, though. No, seriously. The script called for some significant action sequences on California’s I-405, and of course shooting practical effects on that major artery was never going to happen. Shutting down a section of Louisiana’s I-49 for three weeks, though, was doable. And so they did. Here are a couple of freeway interchange pics I lifted from

Interstate 49 = Interstate 405

Palm trees means it’s LA. They’re idiobotanical cues.

These are the kind of pics that get me all hot-and-bothered. By the time I actually see this bitch I’ll have these images so burnt into my skull that, unless the entire scene’s been cut, I’ll be able to recognize bits and pieces of scenery from a single shot—even an insert shot—like some sort of fanboy idiot savant.  But as cool as these freeway shots are (and there are several more out there), I can trump them. Or, rather, some Shreveport townie on YouTube can:

How awesome is that dude with the camera. And how awesome is the fact that the movie crew members who are blithely enjoying another one of my dream careers were taking their sweet time removing all of the set dressing. I screen-capped a couple of the set pieces that I expect might be recognizable in the final product, even if shot at night, out-of-focus and a block away:

Make it easy with product placement.

Do you reckon this storefront was actually a parking lot?

If this kinda thing isn’t your kinda thing, then stay away from this blog for the next twelve months. You were warned.

Vappy Halentine’s Day

14 02 2010

This Year, Give the Gift of Metal Roses

Garrison Dean over at io9 so totally made my day with this Valentine’s Day card, which was one in a series of science fiction-themed designs:

There’s a HAL card and a Planet of the Apes card, too. Good stuff.

Notice the image of a cat on the heart that the second, T-Rexish set of arms is holding—nice nod to the whole cat-food-as-crack motif!

District 9 is up for four Academy Awards next month: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects. I’d like to see it take all four of those, including Best Picture, but it’s up against critics’ darling Precious. Oh, and also that other movie about aliens—Smurfy aliens. What was that inferior 2009 science fiction movie called? Avolta-something? Viatar-blah-blah-blah? Surrogates? Dances with Wolves? The Hype Machine? Oh, who cares. I’ll never see it.

My friends say I should just throw it away. That it’s just a piece of rubbish. That it couldn’t possibly come from him. But I know it’s true.


16 08 2009

No Subtitle Necessary

I was very interested to see whether District 9 would live up to all the hype. People have been saying that it was going to be good, but people say a lot of things. The ad campaign for this thing has been creative to the point of hot-as-all-hell, but too often that just means that somebody’s desperate to market a product that somebody else has already told them is shit. And I’d already heard some rumblings about a played documentary-style approach and a mysterious black fluid that was assigned so many mysterious properties that it was effectively Bond-O for plot holes.

Well, my fears were unfounded. This movie was awesome.

I’ve decided that I’m not even going to worry about spoilers. If you’re somebody I know, then you’ve either already seen it or have no intention of ever seeing it (I know you people), so it doesn’t matter. If I don’t know you, then you made it to, like, page 19 or so of the Google search results for something like “distritc 9 sublinimle mesenges” (I know my WordPress dashboard), and you’re a weirdo for making it that far down. Why would I care about ruining a movie for a weirdo.

Very International Pictograms Standard. Win!

Viral teaser campaign: billboard.

Okay, so the film presupposes the presence of a stalled-out alien mother ship hovering derelict over Johannesburg; the action of the film takes place two decades after its arrival. Despite being forced almost immediately into an enormous favela, the 1 million drone-class aliens who were found in sorry shape on the UFO have since bred in captivity, so that after twenty years they’re up to 1.8 million in number (if I recall correctly). So, it being Earth and all, this population crisis has tensions at a near-boiling point. Also please note that, although this recipe for disaster took twenty years, one imagines that it took all of twenty seconds for the smug, NIMBY-minded, pay-it-forward South Africans, our representatives of the human race and its nature in this film, to come up with a slur that would stick (“prawns”), and not much longer to ghettoize the disadvantaged aliens into dumpster-diving poverty.

Very fascist color scheme. Win!

Viral teaser campaign: bus stop.

At one point, a female voice-over reporter remarks, without a trace of irony, on the crowd of onlookers from “human rights organizations” which has amassed to monitor the forced eviction of the decidedly non-human aliens from District 9, and suddenly I got the movie. This movie isn’t about Wikus, its human and squirm-inducingly Kafkafied protagonist. It’s about the unrivaled, subtitled humanity of the alien Christopher (I love that all the aliens have been assigned Western names, but this beat-you-over-the-head-with-the-fact-that-this-is-a-morality-play name in particular is a bit much). Oh, yeah, and speaking of the Wikus mutations: that shit was gross. Between his shedding of body parts and the other characters’ apparent absence of any shred of human decency, this film is only for the strong-stomached. Seriously. Oh, and in terms of war-gore, let’s just say that more often than not the settings on the alien rifles are cranked to “microwave”. So convincing. Ergo, so nasty. Catsup packet comes to mind.

Generic in a dystopian, 1984 kind of way. Win!

Viral teaser campaign: print (L) and special (R).

I love the fact that there’s lots of humor and levity during the first half-hour, which is styled as a sort of documentary and serves to bring the viewer up-to-speed on the last 20 years, but that the humor straight-up evaporates when shit stops being polite and starts getting real. You know, like when you start committing mass infanticide with another species’ eggs. Or you find out that you’re “worth more dead than alive” to your father-in-law, who is also your DNA-harvesting boss at the menacing defense contract corporation where you work. You know, the one with a totalitarianesque name (Multi-National United) that gets truncated to an acronym (MNU). That one.

I know my posts’ve been more cheer than jeer lately, but this movie is really, really good. 2012 will be better disaster porn, but District 9 has substance. Also, two of the dudes from Tsotsi have minor roles here, and it was cool to see them play characters on the other side of the superstructure (and by that I mean a little bit farther up from the absolute bottom but still closer to the bottom than the middle).

The critics have been impressed, too, and the opening weekend receipts seem healthy, so hopefully we’ll be seeing more from this Blomkamp dude. I mean, for real. By taking the “human” out of “utterly depressing dehumanization”, he managed to leave me more cynical about how people treat each other than I was before I entered the theater. And I was already super-through with people when I went in, so…good job.