Risky Business

We all know that the producers’ aim is to make a profit. And it’s logical: like any company, they are moved by obvious interests:

  • Position in the Industry (I mean, having a predominance in a market segment against other companies)
  • …which allows them to be able to have at their disposal better human and material resources;
  • …which means they are able to tackle the biggest projects;
  • …which (they believe) will yield larger profits and cost-effectiveness.
  • Then, it’s sensible to think that every film will be considered a product to exploit economically. There’s nothing wrong with it.

    Simplifying a lot, let’s distinguish between two kinds of producers:

  • The one who knows what he wants for the final product. In this case, the director is no more than a technician at the service of the product already planned, and –even the promotion- it´s just established prior to the filming. Ex: Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (“The Rock”, “Bad Boys”, … )
  • The one who still hasn’t got a planned product, but an idea. This producer allows the director to contribute with his/her own vision. But nowadays the promotional campaign of films has to start before the shooting, and the original idea may have changed after the director’s work. These producers are more respectful with the director’s job, but they can have serious hindrances if they aren’t able to combine the director’s final vision of the film with the expectations previously created in the audience. And this was what happened with Shyamalan’s “The village”.
  • Risky business

    The producers’ original idea with “The village” was to create a new sixth-sense-like movie (a film with suspense, scares and a surprising end). That primary idea was proposed to Shyamalan, and he actually accepted it and did so. But Shyamalan’s creative freedom restructures a supposedly horror movie into a movie about horror.

    And then it comes: the marketing strategy. Since the project had been approved before film shooting was finished, expectation was created by means of some images which supplied the customer (the future member of the audience) with the following information:

  • There is a village deep into a forest.
  • In the forest there are some creatures.
  • Wow! The expectation is served and, according to that, it’s great. Good job!

    But the problems arise when you have created a fixed image in the customer (which will expect a product equal to that image) and, afterwards, you give that customer a different thing. It doesn’t matter if it was a good thing: the fact is that the customer becomes disappointed. Example: if you want a DVD, and the salesperson packages an excellent TV instead of the DVD, you will think that person is stupid. Ok. This is what happened with “The village”.

    What are the advantages and objections of a marketing strategy like that?

    In the short term:


  • With a sixth-sense-like film, a larger segment of audience will be attracted (larger than with a film about fear)
  • The film will burst into the Box Office in the first week.
  • Objections

  • The word of mouth effect it will be damaging. “If you go watch it, you will waste your money”
  • And the consequence is that the film will weaken clearly in the following weeks after the Premiere.
  • However, the biggest damage will come later: Shyamalan’s upcoming film will need a very good promotional campaign so as to convince the distrustful audience from “The Village”. Good luck, Shyamalan!

    All in all, with its mistakes, “The Village” is itself a risky project (almost with the brilliance of “Unbreakable” and “The Sixth Sense”), harmed by a conformist and wrong marketing strategy.

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