Today’s actors, from the A-listers to tomorrow’s stars, spend countless hours promoting their products. Talk show appearances. Online chats. Magazine Q&As. City by city tours.
And they sometimes shoot themselves in the collective foot in the process.
Take Ghostbusters, what should have been a hotly anticipated reboot of a beloved franchise. The all-female cast can’t stop bad mouthing anyone who thinks the reboot is a bad idea or that the film’s terrible trailer is … terrible.
Co-star Melissa McCarthy led the attack, swiping online fans who haven’t been pleased with the sneak peeks as misogynistic and worse.
“What they don’t say when they’re typing is that one minute after they type their mum is like, ‘Get upstairs and take out the garbage! You’re 45 years old!’” she joked.
And it’s not just the film’s stars. Director Paul Feig gleefully attacks anyone who thinks his reboot isn’t the Second Comedy Coming. The man behind “Bridesmaids” called the criticisms “vile” and “misogynistic.”
Now, there are some folks railing against the movie simply for its all-female cast. A subset of them offer little but misogynistic online rants. Wouldn’t it be better not to feed the online trolls? Stay above the fray and show your confidence in the finished product. That clearly isn’t happening with the Ghostbusters marketing push.
Actors tarnishing their own PR efforts is hardly a new phenomenon.
Remember the buildup to Exodus: Gods and Kings? The 2014 epic starred Christian Bale as Moses, under the direction of Alien auteur Ridley Scott. Could the film hearken back to Hollywood’s Golden Age and Biblical classics like Ben Hur?
Bale told reporters that his vision of Moses was that of a schizophrenic and barbaric soul. He wasn’t done.
"If you're not religious, you can look at it as one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist," he told the press.
This is how an Oscar winner pitches what should be a faith-friendly film to its core audience, mind you.
Noah director Darren Aronofsky pulled off a similar blunder when he started describing his faith-based film as starring the “first environmentalist." A large, eager throng of Christian movie goers heard that and started putting their money back in their wallets and purses.
Actors routinely bash the GOP in their press statements, which doesn’t endear them to conservative movie goers. Some right-of-center consumers won’t support films featuring Sean Penn for that very reason.
One star made that line of attack far more personal.
Back in 2008, Kate Beckinsale slammed half of America while promoting the dud Nothing But the Truth. Here, the Brit discusses what it was like being in the U.S. during an election season.
“I was so shocked to see people admitting to being Republican on their front lawn!”
What does it all mean?
Exodus under-performed badly at the box office. So did Noah, to a lesser extent. Now, Ghostbusters is tracking in the $40-50 million range. That’s great for your average summer movie, but not a franchise reboot meant to spark a new cinematic universe.
Perhaps if McCarthy and co. simply sang their movie’s praises and stopped mocking its critics those numbers would be higher. After all, most geek-friendly movies garner their share of outrageous comments.
Remember the outrage over casting Ben Affleck as Batman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Did the Argo star slam his critics? He just put his head down, went to work and proved the casting decision was a solid call.
Hollywood stars would be well served by following Affleck’s lead. Their product’s commercial fortunes may depend on it.