The worst marketed movies of all time.

I saw previews several months ago for The Pirates! Band of Misfits and thought, “cool, another movie from Aardman Animation (Wallace & Grommit. Chicken Run, etc.)[sup]*[/sup]. I’ll have to see that when it comes out.” Then a couple weeks ago I saw it on the marquee at the discount theater. I didn’t even know it had been released. Didn’t see any reviews, or anything.

So, remarkably unspoilered, I went to see it today just on the reputation of the studio. It was very good, bordering on great. (Not quite excellent.) Anybody here know anything about the plot; the steampunk aspects, David Tennant as Charles Darwin, The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, anything at all? I did a search and the only mention I could find on the boards was that a Flight of the Concordes song was on the soundtrack.

This thread is for discussion of movies whose marketing campaigns utterly missed the mark, and discussion of The Pirates. If you saw it, did you stay through the credits? The best adult joke slipped into a kids movie that I’ve seen in years.

  • Yes, my thoughts often contain parentheses.

I remember that Bridge to Terabithia was horribly mis-sold. I remember the trailers as some Narnia-esq romp through a magical kingdom.

Yeah, not that.

Boat Trip - A lightweight comedy about two straight guys who pretend to be gay to get on a gay cruise. But apparently the studio became afraid it would be seen as a gay movie. So the ad campaign completely avoided any mention of homosexuality.

“Serenity” got almost no advertising, and from the name you’d assume it was a chick flick and not a sci fi action adventure. The lack of advertising budget is one thing, but they should’ve probably compensated with a name that would’ve generated more interest considering that.

It depends on what you mean by badly marketed. Obviously the commercials were horribly misleading by selling the movie as something like the Narnia films. But those commercials probably got more people to come to the theater than if it was advertised as the depressing story it actually is.

Box Office Mojo says it made $82 million in the US, and IMDBestimates the budget as $22 million, so it terms of being a profitable movie, the marketing probably counts as successful.

Of course, Fight Club, the person in charge of marketing it, didn’t like or understand the movie, so buried it as a moronic action movie…

In some ways that brought an unusual audience which might actually have appreciated it, but a whole bunch who thought ‘too much talkie blah blah blah’.

Wasn’t the publicity for John Carter botched?

John Carter made some bad marketing mistakes, but they weren’t as bad as some.

There’s a tendency to take slice-of-life movies with both funny and serious moments and market them as a comedy, putting all the funny bits in the trailer. It has people leaving the theater saying, “That wasn’t very funny” and then trash the film. It’s simpler to pick one or the other, but a good marketer should be able to give a better impression.

Delgo. Pretty much 0 marketing budget.

I would say that a movie with no marketing at all is really the WORST MARKETED film. Badly marketed films give a poor or confusing image of the film. John Carter was very poorly marketed–Disney spent a ton of money and confused and alienated the people who would have enjoyed seeing the film.

Another badly marketed movie, in my opinion, was Eyes Wide Shut. It was billed as a “romantic thriller” and it really was not. I think someone coming to it cold might enjoy it more than someone coming to it with expectations that are not met.

I think Roger Ebert said that marketing promotes, not the movie they did make, but the movie that they wished they had made.

Not necessarily marketing, but the most abysmal business decisions for a movie ever include the release of A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas. The movie really didn’t need a major marketing campaign because it had a huge fan base and everybody knew what to expect (i.e. a mix of pot jokes and crude humor, some of them funny, with a little bit of heart and special guest star Neil Patrick Harris), so you didn’t really need to establish what it was or who should see it.

It was a 3-D Christmas movie. They released it into theater, with very little fanfare, three weeks before Thanksgiving!!!

Being Number 3 in a series it was not historically destined to make as much money as the other two. Being a holiday movie released three weeks before Thanksgiving when nobody was yet in any mood for a holiday movie, no matter how irreverent, damned it completely- the movie not only tanked but was gone from theaters before the holiday season that would have propelled its box office. Stupidest distribution decision ever.

I saw it on DVD (it was released in spring, of course) and it’s the weakest of the three but it has enough good moments (in the H&K definition of good moments) that it would have been a hit with decent publicity and a halfway logical release date. No idea who or what thought this was a good idea, and admittedly this wouldn’t have been James Cameron numbers under the best of circumstances, but they screwed themselves out of millions of dollars in revenue.

One that seemed to be maliciously poor marketing was Idiocracy. It got a movie poster, but literally nothing else, no trailer or anything.

Not the worst, but definitely misleading, was the US marketing for Velvet Goldmine. This is a weird movie that was probably only going to appeal to a niche audience anyway and I can see how it wouldn’t be easy to summarize in 90 seconds, but the last half of the trailer ( does a decent job of conveying the atmosphere. Well, it glosses over the fact that nearly all the characters are gay or bisexual, but that’s not surprising even if it is rather disheartening. But the real problem here is that the first 45 seconds or so are clearly trying to sell it as a rock and roll murder mystery, when in fact no one is murdered in the movie.

I found another trailer on YouTube ( that somewhat more accurately presents the mystery as being a question of whether it was murder or if this Bowie-esque rock star character faked his own death, but in the movie this question is answered within minutes of the opening credit sequence. The shooting was a hoax, and it didn’t take long for this to become publicly known. Velvet Goldmine is set up with a Citizen Kane structure and the mystery, such as it is, is what this guy was really like offstage, why he attempted to fake his own death, and what he’s been doing in the years since then.

Really? I never saw it but the only scene I remember from the preview was Horatio Sanz saying “It’s a gay cruise!”

This has got to be the winner. It was like the studio intentionally sabotaged the film. It was released in only a few cities, some without even using the name, just calling it ‘Untitled Mike Judge Project.’ There was no publicity and no information released to the press

Whenever I recommend the truly good Dangerous Beauty, I feel compelled to issue an apologetic disclaimer that it’s not quite the Skinemax trash the cover art makes it out to be.

I have no idea if it ever had any marketing at all. It showed up as one of the “filler” movies on my New Release wall back when I was managing a Blockbuster - the ones we got 1 copy of (on VHS!), hidden under a dozen facings of Deep Impact or some shit. I must have dusted that sucker for six months before it fell over on the shelf and I actually read the text on the back.

Remind me, what’s the second rule of Fight Club?

I guess it depends on how you define “worst”. This movie was intentionally buried.

Wow, you’re right, that cover art is pure-Dee Skinamax. Would never have guessed it was a real historical epic. Do you suppose the studio ran the numbers and figured they could make a profit based on Skinamax flick type sales, rather than art house film sales? I can’t imagine it would be so, as costuming and sets alone would have been very pricey compared to Skinamax films. But nothing else makes sense, if that’s the right word to be using here.

Trailer for Supernova. They marketed it as a light-hearted space romp. The actual movie isn’t fun at all.