Warner Home Video has let it be known that May 14 will be the release date for Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and DVD editions (both featuring UltraViolet) of the film adaptation of David Mitchell’s 2004 sci-fi/adventure novel, Cloud Atlas.
The ARR works out to a long-in-the-tooth 200 days (many false reports on the release date have come and gone) and the box office tally in the domestic market came in $27.1 million (Cloud Atlas did much better overseas).
Those unfamiliar with Mitchell’s book found the theatrical trailer interesting, but nearly incomprehensible … which violated so many of the unwritten “rules” for making a successful trailer.
Basically, when you are dealing with multiple storylines — spread across five centuries (past, present and future) — with the key actors in radically different roles, you can’t be literal with the presentation. It’s simply too confusing.
Theatre audiences watching the trailer found it baffling … in three minutes most came away with the impression that the film didn’t make any sense. Visually stunning, but what’s with Tom Hanks? He’s this guy; that guy … what? Huh?
Sometimes it is better to lie (well, fib a bit). Keep it simple. You have a story to tell in two minutes … focus in on a key point or two and built interest; suspense … intrigue.
To this point, years ago I was in the theatre business and ShoWest was the convention to attend. It used to be at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (now Bally’s) and way in the back of the hotel they had this cool little theatre (now where the sports book is) where you could watch trailers for hours on end and press a little red button and someone would bring you drinks.
It was heaven for a cinema junky. Drink a cool beverage and watch three hours worth of movie trailers. Almost without fail the endless stream of trailers fell into three groups. There were those that were simply horrible (such as Cloud Atlas), then there were the ones that picked out the best parts — usually comedies — and you knew instinctively that the film itself was going to be rotten and finally there were those trailers that caught your interest (wow, got to see that one). It’s an art form and you either get it right … or you’ve lost a golden opportunity to get theatre-goers to return to the multiplex to see your movie.
A film can overcome a confusing theatrical trailer: even a muddled launch campaign. But, for whatever reason, Cloud Atlas opened at Halloween. Too early for a prestigious Thanksgiving run-up to Christmas and the awards season that follows and well-past the prime summer season (big films and big audiences).
So now comes home entertainment and Warner Home Video has to dig out from under all of these mistakes that were made in the theatrical launch to generate interest in a film that underperformed in its theatrical run. Sometimes a studio is just helpless in when a film gets released — production delays; competition … this or that; it’s always something, but home entertainment is the fall back; the salvation.
With the May 14 street date for the home entertainment launch, at least Warner Home Video has plenty of time to beat the promotional drums and re-awaken interest. Actually, they’ve played it pretty smart. They didn’t try to rush it in for a release during the Christmas-selling season or the immediate post-Christmas (early January) period — it would have gotten lost.
They also avoided the Oscar flurry (February/March) … and with the May 14, it will be at retail before the big summer films take away their audience who are off to the cinema for the latest blockbusters.
The good news is that Cloud Atlas does have its selling points. It’s a genre film, well-produced, visually stunning and with a known cast (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, etc.). It also teams three filmmakers with solid film credits — Run Lola Run’s Tom Tykwer (who handle three of the segments) is teamed with the writing/directing tandum of Andy and Lana Wachowski, who were responsible for Warner’s Matrix film series.
Three months to work it, coupled with some key selling points, plus bonus features, that should prove to be a winning combination for Warner Home Video.
As to those bonus goodies for Cloud Atlas, both DVD and Blu-ray SKUs include the featurette titled “A Film Like No Other.” Exclusive to the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack are six additional production featurettes, including one titled, “The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas” and another listed as “Eternal Recurrence: Love, Life, and Longing in Cloud Atlas.”
To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report