May 4, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem


One of the good things about going to midnight premieres of blockbusters (there aren’t all that many) is that the audience is exactly the group (young, first adopters, eagerly moviegoing) Hollywood is targeting.  A theatre almost entirely composed of that crowd provides a ready-made focus group to gauge how upcoming releases are faring with the studio demographic of choice.  Here, then, is an entirely unscientific glimpse of the reactions at a Los Angeles-area IMAX theatre to the trailers that preceded the midnight show of The Avengers.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES:  A+.  The cheering started as soon as the Warner Bros logo hit the screen, and apart from one jokey shout-out about Bane’s incomprehensibility (actually he’s a lot easier to understand in the new trailer than he was in the original IMAX preview), the audience was rapt, oohing and aahing sightings of a collapsing bridge and the flying Batmobile.  Sustained applause greeted the credits and continued even after they ended.  Not that there was any doubt, but this is going to be an Event.

PROMETHEUS:  A-.  Some began applauding with recognition at the first moody landscape shot, and the cheers grew louder when Ridley Scott’s name appeared.  Much buzzing of interest and applause once the intense, fast-cut finale montage cut to credits.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN:  B.  Sony had released a newly cut trailer this week, specifically for placement with The Avengers, but this particular theatre was still showing the one that’s already been around for several weeks.  Everyone’s seen it, which may have contributed to the general lack of enthusiasm for shots of digital Spidey flying around Manhattan, and the polite response overall.
BATTLESHIP:  C.  Derisive laughter isn’t the sound a studio wants to hear when audiences get a look at its $200+M action spectacle.  Mutterings of Transformers” (not in a good way) could be heard, and despite all the giant explosions and murderous aliens showcased in the trailer, the crowd was unmoved.
THE DICTATOR:  C-.  If Sacha Baron Cohen can’t get laughs from this crowd, The Dictator has a real problem.  The new plot-heavy trailer tells more about what the picture is actually going to be (Cohen’s dictator character is deposed, apparently by the CIA, and has to work in a sandwich shop, and presumably has a romance with perky Anna Faris), which drew little interest–the only gag that got any laughs at all was when he attacked a rude little kid in the store.
FRANKENWEENIE:  D+.  Since Disney is the distributor of Avengers, presumably it attached this trailer itself, on the theory that this dark comedy animation was the closest thing on the studio’s upcoming schedule to a movie that might appeal to the superhero audience.  The attempt was understandable, but misguided.  Cries of “What is this?” and dismissive groans ensued when people recognized it, and even when Tim Burton’s name appeared, the reaction was dead silence.   

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."