Hollywood Gears Up for Slew of Religious Releases, But for What Audience?

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 20, 2014 04:49 PM

"Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time."
— Genesis 5:32-10:1; New International Version

The amounting drama around the modern story of Noah, a $130 million retelling of the Old Testament's builder of the ark from Paramount Pictures, goes back to Nov. 2013. Then, test audiences leaked descriptions of the film that worried Christian leaders due to its interpretative retelling of Noah's story, including themes of environmentalism.

And the cheers and jeers are only about to get louder as the US is about to see a flood of faith-themed films that is going to severely test some long-held beliefs about Hollywood, Godliness and who has the power to motivate, lucrative Christian audiences.

Jump ahead about 140 days and nights and a new survey of Christian consumers about Noah, due out March 28, produced troubling results for the film's success. The Faith Driven Consumer survey found that "98 percent of its supporters were not 'satisfied' with Hollywood’s take on religious stories such as Noah." The survey's exact question: “As a Faith Driven Consumer, are you satisfied with a biblically themed movie—designed to appeal to you—which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood?”

Paramount Pictures immediately hit back against the survey. The studio said its internal research countered the Faith Driven Consumer results.Continue reading...


Seattle's the Latest US City to Benefit from China's Movie-Crazy Consumers

Posted by Abe Sauer on April 19, 2013 11:41 AM

"I cried three times through the entire movie and when Allison finally 'sees' Frank in the mirror, I completely lost it!… I want to go to Seattle, and then to New York!"

That reaction of a Weibo user to seeing the new blockbuster Chinese rom-com Finding Mr. Right is not uncommon. It's the kind of reaction that led Chinese tourism site tuniu.com to find in a recent survey that inquiries about Seattle by Chinese tourists jumped 120 percent in the last week of March, when the film debuted.

Seattle isn't letting the opportunity go to waste either, with its China-side marketing team leveraging the film's huge popularity to drive interest from a group that has become the world's most lucrative tourism demographic. A demographic that is increasingly taking its cues from popular movies, but only those that can emotionally connect.Continue reading...


China Looks to Iron Man 3, Hollywood as Gateway to US Living Rooms

Posted by Abe Sauer on April 11, 2013 11:04 AM

Behind Robert Downey Jr. were three product logos during a recent junket to Beijing to promote Iron Man 3. One was Audi, one was FAW-Volkswagen and the other was TCL.

Iron Man 3 re-upped its deal with Audi, a deal we said complicates the product placement continuity across Marvel's Avengers property. One other Iron Man 3 partnership that could also cause future continuity issues is the film's big tie-in with China's tech brand TCL.

But this is not TCL's first dance with a US blockbuster. Once again, the brand is hoping to use its position as a Hollywood sidekick to springboard its way into foreign living rooms. It appears to be working and TCL might soon be one of those select few Chinese brands that have cracked foreign markets, even if those foreign markets don't know TCL is Chinese.Continue reading...


The Week in China: Tomb Sweeping Day, Durex Orgies, Fixie Bike Bans and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on April 5, 2013 12:53 PM

Above, all of the name brand paper joss items available for this week's Qing Ming Jie or Tomb Sweeping Day when Chinese burn items to send to ancestors in the afterlife. Qing Ming is now big business.

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: Apple still in trouble... China's anti-"fixie" rhetoric... infant formula saga... Celebrity China clout... PETA... counterfeit beer... Porsche... Startup Asia 2013... fly home to vote... "Baidu Glass"... W Hotels... McDonald's... Iron Man 3 to World War Z... cheap Bollinger... iPhone joss... "vulgar" Birkin brand... and more.Continue reading...

media meltdown

Galaxy Chocolate's Hepburn Ad the Latest Entry in VFX War

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 4, 2013 04:47 PM

The UK's Galaxy chocolate has caught some flack for its new TV campaign: a spot featuring actress Audrey Hepburn in a scene from her film Roman Holiday. The actress—who passed in 1993—is captured searching for a digitally inserted Galaxy chocolate bar in her purse and later eating the candy bar in the back of a car.  

The Mars-owned brand's commercial is the latest in a growing number of spots (remember Dior's commercial with Charlize Theron that "co-starred" Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich?) that have been criticized for using deceased figures, as the latest volley in a growing firestorm over the increasing use of CGI in Hollywood, which includes plans to take more deceased performers' holograms on tour.

It's also not the first attempt at reviving Hepburn, who has been featured in a controversial Gap commercial as well. While a bit jarring, the technology behind the ads speaks to the incredible accomplishments of visual effects (VFX) artists.Continue reading...


The Week in China: WeChat vs. Weibo, Ikea, Marvel and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 1, 2013 12:01 PM

At top, Brad Pitt phones in his new role as Cadillac China spokesman.

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's 10 reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week, the cat cafe... bodyguards... WeChat... Ikea's horse meatballs... Victoria's Secret... HTC... best selling sedans... Hollywood... Yum!... Bradillac and more. Continue reading...

in the spotlight

LAPD Confidential: Dorner Case Evokes Hollywood's Perpetual Police Dramas

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 13, 2013 02:12 PM

Just as infamous murder suspect and police officer Chris Doran was scribbling his now famous manifesto against the Los Angeles Police Department, Hollywood was releasing Gangster Squad. About the LAPD's battle against crime boss Mickey Cohen, the film is just the latest in La-LA land's collection that put a sheen on the efficacy of the department's iconic corruption.

Ironically enough, the real life "gangster squad" that the film was based on was formed by the LAPD in 1946 to preserve Los Angeles' image as, in Gangster Squad author Paul Liberman's own words, "a sun-washed Garden of Eden." Unfortunately, it's the exact same LAPD that has been—more than any other American city's authorities—a scourge to the image of its home. A locked-in vicious cycle of LAPD mythologizing was maybe best captured in yesterday's image of the LA Times homepage announcing the Dorner shootout alongside numerous banner ads for the "raw" LAPD TV drama Southland.

"No city's image is more closely bound to its police department than Los Angeles to the LAPD," John Buntin, author of L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City, told brandchannelBuntin's book chronicles the LAPD of the Mickey Cohen "Gangster Squad" years and its transition to its Dragnet era and eventually the disaster of the Watts riots.Continue reading...

celebrity brandmatch

Celebrity Brandmatch: Jay-Z, Katy and Kiefer Owe it All to Groucho and Gracie

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 27, 2012 02:34 PM

If Amy Sedaris pitching Downy in a perky new campaign rings a bell, it's because celebrities have been sudsing up for brands since the early days of Hollywood. Think back to the golden days of radio, when Jack Benny plugged Jello in his opening line, "Jello, everybody, this is Jack Benny," and Bob Hope promoted Pepsodent toothpaste. And in the early days of television, George Burns and Gracie Allen peddled Carnation Milk, Groucho Marx touted Prom Shampoo and Ozzie and Harriett shilled for Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix. Before he was President, Ronald Reagan stumped for Chesterfield cigarettes.

In today’s world of 24/7 social media, celebrity endorsement, backing and entrepreneurship (from Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop to Jessica Alba's Honest Company) have reached new digital platforms. This week Stamped, a mobile app and website that lets people share reviews of anything they like, announced new celebrity backers including Justin Bieber, Ryan Seacrest and Ellen DeGeneres, and investments from Columbia Records, Eric Schmidt and The New York Times Company, bringing its financing to over $3 million.Continue reading...

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