Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dear #50ShadesofGrey Production Team: You're Shooting Yourself in the Foot

A concerned fan

Re: Your atrocious media presentation

24 February 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey was always going to cause a hullabaloo. The content, the fan-fiction roots, the prose style. Each of these topics were addressed when the books were paper published, and all of these topics were revisited in the ramp up to the movie. Hashtags on social media arguing the movie was abuse dueled against hashtags from fans that supported the movie. However one thing that has surprised me as  I read the articles and followed the social media was that there has been little effort from the movie's production team to spin or address any of these issues. No navigation to deal with the controversial topics. No statements about supporting fans. Nothing. The people who have spoken for and about the movie are the director, the cast members, and the author. And for the most part they've done more harm than good, with their presentation of the film getting worse as the opening day approached, and now, seemingly imploding a week after opening day.

Yesterday saw the Internet explode with rumors that Jamie Dornan would not be reprising his role for the 50 Shades of Grey sequels because of his wife's objections over the movie's subject matter. 
Fan response ranged from sad (how could the sequels continue if they had to recast) to nasty (taking pot-shots at Dornan's wife for not knowing what the books were about, or being surprised by the movie). Please note the "article" above contains NO facts or sources or direct quotes, only fan tweets, seemingly, as a Twitter friend pointed out, used only to make fun of fans.

Yet as I read these posts, and the speculative articles like the above, I couldn't help but think that this was yet another misstep by the production.
You've taken a franchise that is a guaranteed money maker given the legions of fans of the books, the number of people who love to hate-watch, and people who simply want to be titillated and will fork over money for it and yet you seem to be running down a checklist of how to shoot yourself in the foot.
  • Have cast members disparage the plot, production, and subject matter? In fact, imply that the character of Christian Grey is somehow more repulsive than a serial killer on The Fall? Check.
  • Have cast members on press junket say they don't want people to see the film? Check.
  • Have cast members appear awkward in interviews with each other and apparently not able to even ACT like they like each other? Check.
Watching the lead up to the release of Fifty Shades of Grey has been like watching a media train wreck. These missteps are completely avoidable. And yet you keep making them. Do you not have a media management company? A PR firm? Anyone telling you what a complete train wreck these interviews and quotes are?

Don't worry, you have two more books to get it right, and here are some tips:
  • Have your cast PRETEND to like each other in interviews. They are actors after all. If this is not possible don't book them together. Have them conduct press junket interviews separately.
  •  Try and find something other than cliche titles and taglines to market the movies. Not every single release needs to have a bondage reference.
  • Give your cast members a PR script telling them what to say and not say. Things to avoid- "I don't want anyone to see this movie" and "I had to take a shower after filming." Pretty much avoid anything that insults the material that justified or not, the fans love.
  • Muzzle the rest of your production team. If they can't say anything nice, don't put them in front of a camera. Impress upon them that trashing their own production is monumentally stupid. 
  • Also have your production team avoid insulting each other. Airing dirty laundry in public is just tacky.
  • And about the fans, it wouldn't be a horrible idea to do some wooing of fans in the run up to the next two movies. You've insulted them, and what they like, and they still turned out opening weekend. Some fan-targeted love, on social media, and in interviews would go a long way. Fans will spend obscene amounts of money for things they love. It's FREE MONEY.  Why would you jeopardize that income?
Surely by now you've realized that this is not a film that appeals to a wide range of people. What you DO have is a large fan base of readers, who drag others along. Or you have (I think a smaller number) who bought a ticket to laugh and hate watch. It's the fans, and their involvement, and endorsement that can help you.
Hire a public relations firm.
Do what they say.
For goodness sake, have SOMEONE address the Dornan leaving rumors (preferably Dornan himself, and preferably in a non-condescending way).
Start planning now for how you're going to correct these missteps in the sequels.

The fans want to like you. Stop making it so hard for them.

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