Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sorry, Gang, Disney Still Won't Acquire You

The biggest news story of the day as measured by the Times, Globe, and God help us the BBC is this: "The Avengers" comes out on Friday.

No story in the Sunday Globe got more space, as it was the sum of their inexplicable Movies section. Cast member Samuel L. Jackson was the cover story of the Sunday Times magazine. BBC World broadcast a long feature on the flick I caught when I turned it on to get soccer scores.

I'm gonna see the picture. I've been reading Marvel comics since childhood. I'm a big Joss Whedon fan, and after all, he's a Wesleyan grad, too. But the first of the big summer tentpole movies is not news. It is a predictable harbinger of the change of seasons. People like seeing the first daffodils, too, but no paper devotes a special section to them. The only time a tentpole is news is when they die sudden awful deaths at the box office. Then, Variety gets a big story when some studio executives get fired, as happened with "John Carter."

So what's with the free publicity? It's not as if "The Avengers" doesn't have plenty of the paid variety. Stan Lee, founder of Marvel, is one of the greatest promoters in American history. Walt Disney Co., which bought Marvel Entertainment some years back, might be THE greatest. In smallish towns of Provence in France two weeks ago, I saw "Avengers" related merchandise. Why did editors of two of our country's prestigious dailies choose to highlight something everybody already knew about?

It's not for money. The stories will not alter in the slightest the large (but not large enough) ads motion picture theater chains will place in each newspaper's Friday May 4 editions and for some days after that. Movie marketing budgets are planned out to the nickel before a director gets hired.

Alas, I think wistful envy is the cause. As the sickly poor uncle of the mass media, newspapers have a subconscious desire to experience, if only vicariously, what it's like to be part of the mass media industry that MAKES money, the big money they used to have as monopoly outlets for certain forms of advertising. The grosses of "The Avengers" will be financial porn for a revenue-starved business.

Then again, the Globe's front page lead news story had the headline "Shale Gas Boom Has Benefits and Risks." Stop the presses!!! Get me rewrite!!!! Suck my thumb!!!!!

Maybe "The Avengers" was news today because most everything else wasn't.


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