We just saw a subliminal ad in Hannibal...So what now?

My girlfriend and I went to see Hannibal at the AMC 30 in Mesquite TX (5:00 showing, theater 16).

Early in the film, while Sir Anthony Hopkins was shown in close-up, we both noticed something.

We both saw a black band, perhaps five percent of the image’s height, appear momentarily across the width of the screen–cutting through Hopkin’s forehead.

Within the band we saw yellow lettering which we agreed looked like a “1-800” number. I thought it said “1-800-COLLECT”, but she couldn’t be sure. To me it looked like the font and coloring of their familiar logo.
My questions are:
Isn’t this (still) illegal?
To whom do I report it?

I would quadruple check it to make sure you saw what you think you saw. If it was indeed a subliminal message, especially from a company that had so much to lose, you wouldnt have seen it at all. And, did it ask a question? IIRC, the one test ive heard about regarding subliminal messages showed that it only had an effect if it asked you a question (“Wouldn’t you like a Coke?”, rather than “Drink Coke”). And, by the way, he isnt ‘Sir’ Anthony Hopkins anymore.


I heard others nearby in the (crowded) theater make remarks like, “What was that?” at the same time that the GF and I noticed it.

It does not matter to me if it was done in the proper way for it to work–or even if it works at all! The fact that it was (apparently) done shows that the people responsible for it believed it might work, and therefore intended to commit, if not a crime, then an objectionable act.

I am personally offended, and, petty or not, I want retribution…if possible. I will report this to the appropriate authorities if I can find them.

E d’Mann wrote

After being wronged so deeply and completely, I can certainly understand your need for retribution.

Great passion is a gift. Silly application is a crime.


Exactly how is your post an answer to my General Question?

Are you certain that you clearly saw the beginning of a telephone number (at least the 1-800 part)? I only ask because there is always a chance it might be part of the film, ala Fight Club.


We saw the same thing. I saw (or thought I saw–the very nature of the subject makes it hard to be absolutely certain) a “1-800”. My GF independently stated to me, immediately afterwards, that she saw “a phone number, like a 1-800 number”.

I suppose I should mention that her (adult) son noticed nothing.

I doubt the filmmakers are involved–If this is in all prints of the film we will soon be hearing from a lot more people who saw it.

It seems more likely that a bored (or greedy) projectionist, ala the character (name escapes me) in Fight Club, did it.

Actually, I was refering to the glimpses of Tyler Durden that can be seen all through the film on the DVD version of Fight Club. Sorry–I had forgotten about the bored projectionist thing.

This wasn’t asked about either, but here’s a Cecil column refuting subliminal messages in general:

-ask the theater to check it out
-contact the movie company
-report it to the media

Early in the film, I saw a black band with yellow on it cutting across the screen and Hopkins’s face. I assumed the film had broken and it was a bad splice.

This was at the Mann Theatre in Culver City, CA.

Do we know for sure that so-called subliminal advertising is illegal on the state or local level? The FTC prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising in interstate commerce; if this was sometning that only happened at your theater, would FTC rules even apply?

I saw Hannibal at a Hoyt’s theater in Alexandria, VA, and I didn’t notice anything screwy.

Cisco: He is indeed still Sir Anthony Hopkins. He doesn’t lose his title just because he took American citizenship. In case you hadn’t noticed, Steven Spielberg is now Sir Steven Spielberg, too. The titles are honorary.

We call this product placement. Some filmmakers allow this when the companies whose products are featured pay a lot of money.

This isn’t illegal. This is marketing. This is freedom of speech. It’s protected by the First Amendment. I don’t know what country you think you’re in, but this is completely normal.

Also, FYI, Sir Anthony Hopkins became just Anthony Hopkins when he applied for U.S. citizenship. He said he “felt at home” in America.

I thought product placement was when a product, say a Coke can or a bag of chips or something, is prominently displayed as part of the action or in the background. I think “Wayne’s World” did a little riffing on this, using Pepsi and Pizza Hut.

I’m all for freedom of speech but what E d’Mann thinks he saw sounds more like a sort of vandalism-- plastering an add across a film, making that brief moment in the film impossible to see as it was meant to be seen. I haven’t seen “Hannibal” myself yet (I’m in NYC, btw) so I have no idea if this little glitch is showing up on prints here.

Product placement does not include the use of subliminal messages, I assure you, since they are remarkably ineffective. If you’re going to pay an assload of money to have your product featured in a film, you’re going to want it featured.

Since it also appears that not everyone saw this when they saw the film, feel free to try again.

This isn’t illegal. This is marketing. This is freedom of speech. It’s protected by the First Amendment. I don’t know what country you think you’re in, but this is completely normal.

BZZZZZZZZZZT! Advertising is not completely First Amendment protected; if it was, you would see advertising copy (a la Dudley Moore in Crazy People) stating that buying a Lexus will give you a bigger penis and more intelligence.

No, advertising practices are governed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who specifically ban “unfair and deceptive” advertising. Subliminals, even though the FTC is undecided on their effectiveness, discourages their use nonetheless. The FCC prohibits broadcasters from using them. And the BATF specifically prohibits them for use in alcohol advertising.

No. No, no, no, no. He does not relinquish his honorary title, or did you miss where I told you that Steven Spielberg just received one, too?

See, Phil, this is where you’re wrong. Apparently, it’s an SUV that gives you a bigger penis. :stuck_out_tongue:

– Montfort, driver of Volkswagens

Incidentally, I became plain ol’ “Ukulele Ike” when I applied for U.S. citizenship. Previously, I was Elizabeth II.

Phil, I hereby dub thee “Sir Pldennison.”

<still giggling over this line>

As to the black band w/yellow line/type seen by some in “Hannibal,” I would immediately complain to the theatre. We recently saw “Chocolat” (chick flick night) at a United Artists theatre and were extremely disappointed with the quality of the print. There were two horrible splices, countless particles on the reel/screen that made the picture appear much different than it should have. We complained to the manager after the show – we got an apology for the very poor quality of the reel, but weren’t even comped a lousy bag of popcorn! :wink:

I remember taking a course in college (some 20+ years ago) about subliminal advertising. Back then, such stuff caused great fear – like the supposed devil messages in certain records played backwards (which, IMHO, was only a way to increase record sales of albums that didn’t sound frontwards or backwards).

Where’s Oliver Stone when you need him?

Besides, wouldn’t you expect a subliminal “Hannibal” ad to be for something that tied in better – like “Pork: The Other White Meat?”

SDStaff Songbird

Just thought I would add that I saw Hannibal and do not recall seeing anything relating to 1-800 in the movie (although I did suddenly have the urge to make calls to faraway friends, on their dime…coincidence I am sure)

BTW, there is a very obvious product placement in the movie for NetZero (I think). Personally I am of two minds regarding product placement. When done right it actually adds to the movie, becuase to me it is kind of annoying to see someone drink “Cola” or “Beer”. But when product placement is done sloppily or too obviously then the obviousness of it is also just as distracting.

I think that everybody is missing the point. So what if it was a subliminal ad? If it was, neither E d’Mann nor his GF can tell you exactly what it was.
Johnny LA said that he thought he saw a bad edit (which I find hard to believe in a movie like this). If it was a subliminal ad, it sure didn’t seem to work.
E d’Mann, you don’t have any sudden impulses to make long distance calls do you?