Ken Harrison 8:19 p.m., April 26
There Is Something Haywire About Releasing the First 5 Minutes of Haywire
Earlier in the week, Matt mentioned the internet debut of the opening 5 minutes to Haywire, arriving January 20 at a megaplex near you. (The reviewing duty falls on my watch leaving Br'er Lickona to sink his fangs in Underworld.) Until I see Haywire on a screen, forgive me for not rushing to my laptop and scrutinizing the opening blast of Steven Soderbergh's thinking-person's take on an Angelina Jolie action blockbuster.
If what they are previewing is literally the first five minutes of any contemporary mainstream Hollywood release, chances are all you're going to see is a stream of corporate logos marking their territory. Trailers that tell too much are bad enough. The coming attraction for Contraband is your basic Reader's Digest condensed version of the feature. Do studios have to give away the farm like they did by releasing to theatres an exhausting 8-minute chunk of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? (And that was on top of the 6 trailers I had already endured!) Encouraging potential ticket-buyers to get in the habit of watching movies on a computer, let alone an iPhone, is not a message Hollywood should be sending out.
At least producer Scott Rudin showed some class (and respect) by theatrically hyping the release of Dragon. Apart from Downfall parodies on YouTube, I refuse to watch a movie on a 15-inch computer screen, especially a swatch of one I'm going to see when it opens a few days from now.
No one would welcome the return of the 8-minute "behind-the-scenes" featurette more than I. Little more than extended trailers, these mini-"making of" documentaries, a staple of the '60's and '70's moviegoing experience, would hit theatre screens a few weeks before a film's release, or appear as promotional filler after The Best of CBS, The ABC Sunday Night Movie, or The NBC Movie of the Week. Frequently shot by novice crews with hand-held 16mm cameras, these teasers didn't reveal a movie's inner-makings so much as they did showcase its stars or superstar director.
Blake Edwards' The Great Race (1965).
Otto Preminger's In Harm's Way (1965).
Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up, Doc? (1972).
The second best film of 1973.
Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974).
Nowadays, "making of" featurettes -- frequently shot by novice crews with hand-held video cameras purchased at Best Buy -- live on as supplementary perks on DVDs. The closest theatre audiences get to experiencing the calculated intimacy of these behind-the-scenes glimpses is during the video pre-show at your local multiplex where they take you behind-the-scenes of the latest TBS production.
The following are a few featurettes that I'm old enough to recall seeing on their initial release.