The review I wrote of Serenity was based on the free press screening that Universal invited bloggers to attend. I think this was the first time a major movie studio let bloggers into a screening, and I think it’s a great idea and (hopefully) the start of a trend. I love going to free movies before they’re released.
Since this was the first, there were definitely some kinks. This Blogcritics post outlines all of the issues that bloggers had with the event. Most of the problem was with the ambiguous wording of the email the PR firm sent to invited bloggers (well, most invited bloggers. I didn’t get the email, more on that later).
Congratulations! You are one of the lucky bloggers to be chosen and confirmed for the screening of SERENITY for the time, date and the number of guests that you have requested. Please note, this confirmation DOES NOT guarantee you a seat at the screening.
To significantly increase your chances of getting into the screening, you MUST do the following:
· You MUST include the film’s synopsis on your blog (synopsis below) and you MUST link your blog to the SERENITY website (which has the trailer and production notes) http://www.serenitymovie.com and featured artwork. After you have screened the film, please discuss it on your blog. Please provide us the links to all of your blog posts on SERENITY at firstname.lastname@example.org
· Print out and bring a copy of this confirmation.
· Arrive at the theater AT LEAST 45 minutes before the show begins.
· Upon arrival at the theater, please find a UNIVERSAL PICTURES representative and inform him or her that you are part of the SERENITY BLOGGER BONANZA. The Universal rep will then instruct you as to what to do next.
· DO NOT bring in a camera or a cellular phone that takes pictures. They WILL be confiscated, and you will NOT be allowed into the screening.
· Have a great time!
Like I said, I didn’t get this email. Perhaps my spam filters trashed it, it certainly reads like bad spam. If I’d known there was going to be an email, I would have looked for it in the junk folder, but the webpage I was sent to after signing up said, basically, you’re on the list: Just show up with ID and without recording devices, skip to the front of the line, and enjoy the show.
Several parts of this email are obviously poorly worded. But is it by design, or just stupidity? Certainly the sentence, “This confirmation DOES NOT guarantee you a seat at the screening,” makes no sense at all, but it could be intended to be nonsensical. Perhaps they were just poorly organized and didn’t know how many seats would be available, so they figured they’d use the word “confirmation” to get people to show and then add a bit of weasel language at the end. That way they’d have an excuse when everyone who didn’t get in got angry. It also makes no sense that they would confiscate your camera phone and kick you out of the screening. Doesn’t it seem like one or the other would be enough? I also seriously doubt that a private company is even allowed to confiscate my property.
It’s completely, totally ridiculous to expect a blogger to post their synopsis and artwork. Link to the website? Fine, I did that anyway, and you can follow that to read as much synopsis and look at as much artwork as you like. Plus, the synopsis was really lame and badly written. Check out a (slightly) edited version at dorkafork’s place. And when did they expect me to post the synopsis? I’d assume as part of my review after I’d seen the movie, but the email states that, “to significantly increase your chances of getting into the screening,” you must post the synopsis, artwork, and link. So did they want me to write about the movie before I saw it? I just don’t know.
Luckily, none of that mattered. It wouldn’t have anyway, I’m not principled enough to skip a free screening over little quibbles like this. I still wouldn’t have posted their synopsis, but I don’t think that changes anything. What are they going to do, not invite me to the sequel which might not even get made, anyway?
The “Blogger Bonanza” was a good idea, poorly executed (and poorly named. Bonanza?), but hopefully it helps word-of-mouth on the movie anyway. That way they’ll try again, and be less heavy-handed and better organized next time.
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