ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO is released today and the very title and the fact it’s a Kevin Smith comedy that had trouble with the ratings board tells you it’s not something to take grandma to. But this detail down in the guts of this Yahoo Movies post is completely bizarre. Quite a few newspapers, TV stations and billboard owners are demanding that the film just be called ZACK AND MIRI.
Aside from Larry Miller’s theater chain, fifteen newspapers along with several TV stations and billboard owners have been refusing to promote the flick across the country because of that word. As Philadelphia deputy mayor Rina Cutler said in a phone interview with The Wall Street Journal, “If they want to call the movie ‘Zack and Miri,’ that’s fine, but Zack and Miri cannot make a porno on my bus shelters.”
Amazingly the film’s marketers are responding. See the photo attached to this post. And here’s Mark Caro at the Chicago Tribune on some of the TV ads:
this past weekend on “Saturday Night Live” — a late-night comedy show famous for sketches such as the one about the “Schweddy Balls”— an ad truncated the title to “Zack and Miri.”
Yet on a commercial during Sunday night’s final Rays-Red Sox playoff game, the title once again was “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.”
I asked Smith what the deal was, and here’s his account via e-mail:
A “Make a Porno”-less ad was prepared for “Monday Night Football” (they wouldn’t take the “Make a Porno” version, as football is a ‘family-friendly entertainment’ … which is why you can see all manner of erectile dysfunction ads during the game). Weinstein Co. accidentally serviced that ad to “SNL” as well — arguably the only network show that would’ve been okay with the unedited “Make a Porno” title. (Indeed, we’ve run the unchanged “Make a Porno” ads on “SNL” for two weeks prior now).
“People [deleted] baffle me, sir….”
Now, I can understand refusing to book the film, as one theater chain is doing, or refusing ads for it, as publishers have the right to do. But what is the logic of accepting an ad for the film with a different title?
Is it supposed to raise the community’s moral fiber by actually changing the content of the let-us-stipulate-immoral movie?
Or is it supposed to raise the community’s moral fiber by making sure that someone who might not be interested in ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO would go to ZACK AND MIRI and thereby see the let-us-stipulate-immoral movie that they would have avoided otherwise?
I would be for censorship if censors just weren’t so [deleted] stupid.
Orson Welles once said (I can’t find the exact quote very quickly) that anybody who writes or talks about movies without writing or talking about money is a fool. Never has it been more obvious to me than what has happened to a couple of great movies that will probably never see a commercial release in the US because their distributor has financially collapsed.
Tartan Films shuttered its US video division last month and a few days ago it went into receivership itself. My interests have been the artistry and morality of the movies; the business of them not at all. But two of the films that Tartan had the rights to distribute were Carlos Reygadas’s SILENT LIGHT and Roy Andersson’s YOU THE LIVING.
I saw both films, and great ones they are, for the second time at FilmFestDC. SILENT LIGHT got even better and was upgraded to “10″; YOU THE LIVING not so much, but easily stayed a “9.” Both would be cinches for my year-end Top 10; neither are now on it because there is now essentially no chance that either will see the inside of a non-festival American theater. They will probably both go straight to video some time around 2010. That’s cruel to any great movie, but doubly cruel for these two, both of which create whole (very different) worlds and so need the sense of envelopment that being in a theater produces. In fact, SILENT LIGHT’s famous opening shot absolutely depends on being surrounded by the theater’s darkness. I am not a film-only purist and have often butted heads with them, but is any film ever NEEDED to be seen in a theater, it’s SILENT LIGHT. And now it won’t be.
Sitting in my draft folder now is a 80-percent-done lengthy appreciation of SILENT LIGHT that I worked on shortly after seeing it for the second time, at FilmFestDC this spring. And it’s been sitting there because I can’t find the wherewithal to convince myself that anything I have to say can be relevant to a film that can never be seen. And so finish it haunted by the knowledge that I am a fool.