Why do we go to midnight screenings, Bruce? So we learn to pick up what movies are going to be huge hits based on the audience’s reaction to them! (Did I get that quote right?)
Midnight showings are an age-old barometer for gauging whether a movie is going to sink or soar come its premiere. If the audience explodes with excitement, then you’ve probably got a surefire hit on your hand (example: The Avengers; false example: Cowboys & Aliens). If the audience festers like a sore and sends ill-wishing boos towards the screen, then you’ve probably got a big-budget problem (see: The Host — actually, don’t).
Being the fan of midnight screenings that I am, I decided to hit up New York’s AMC Empire 25 cineplex in Times Square for the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. The lines were long, the popcorn fresh, and the audience members raring to shout obscene things at the screen in order to make themselves look cooler in front of strangers. Here’s how the crowd reacted to the trailers that Gotham deserved, but not the trailers they need right now:
Jack Reacher: The upcoming Tom Cruise franchise (we can assume that should enough money be made, this will be Cruise's new Mission: Impossible) kicked off the reels with an enigmatic yet enticing trailer (the same one that hit the Internet a few weeks ago).
Initial Applause: None. No one knew what it was!
Final Applause: A smattering of mumbles when Cruise's name flashed on the screen.
Verdict: Reacher failed to reach audiences and gain recognition in the crowd, which largely had no clue what the movie was even about. Time to amp up the marketing on this one?
Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino's bloody new spaghetti western premiered its full-length trailer in theaters to an intrigued crowd.
Initial Applause: Only from the few who recognized the eponymous character.
Final Applause: Look, it's Leo! Everyone cheer!
Verdict: Despite a strong trailer, it was an out-of-character turn from DiCaprio that looked to be this movie's most exciting draw for the audience.
Paranorman: That new animated movie about that kid from The Sixth Sense... right?
Initial Applause: Courtesy giggles.
Final Applause: Courtesy silence.
Verdict: Was this really the right audience for that trailer? Try next door, guys — I hear they're showing Ice Age 8: Thaw and Order.
Les Miserables: Anne Hathaway pops up singing, and suddenly the crowd goes dead silent? Let's hear it for the musical!
Initial Applause: The most for any trailer up until that point.
Final Applause: A surprising amount of 'woos' for a musical, but then again, I was in Times Square.
Verdict: Unexpected love that likely won't come to fruition once December actually rolls around.
Total Recall: The latest reboot is Colin Farrell's return to crowd-pleasing action... only the crowd wasn't that pleased. And the movie is only two weeks away from being released.
Initial Applause: Absolutely none.
Final Applause: Less than absolutely none.
Verdict: Uh oh...
Argo: Ben Affleck takes the director's chair again for a CIA-Hollywood-Iran (the trifecta, obviously) period piece.
Initial Applause: Look, it's a serious movie! As the first major public trailer, the audience was more hushed than clap-happy.
Final Applause: A small amount of appreciative hand-smacking.
Verdict: Maybe a bit out of the comic book crowd's taste.
The Watch: Comedy heavyweights Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill join forces against aliens in their neighborhood. Release next week.
Initial Applause: No applause, but tons of early laughs.
Final Applause: Does hearty, cheerful laughter throughout the trailer count for anything?
Verdict: Finally, a box office winner, if only that damn Batman movie didn't come out a week earlier.
Man of Steel: A short but sweet trailer for the Zack Snyder Superman reboot.
Initial Applause: Huge.
Final Applause: Even huger. Did you hear the crowd roar when Superman flew!?
Verdict: We've got a hit — made even more promising by the noise eruption when Christopher Nolan's name popped up on screen.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros.]
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