“Doom” is as close as I really ever got to being a gamer. Many college hours were spent loading “Doom” into (what was at the time a big deal) my computer’s CD-ROM drive and shooting, chopping or otherwise blowing up and dismembering various aliens and mutants. I can honestly say, though, that never once in the countless hours playing the game, while I should have been writing papers or staying sober, did I think the game made for good movie fodder. Never crossed my mind. Not once did the idea even flit through the transom of my mind. There was no story, there were no characters other than, you know, you and there was almost no plot setup.
Little did I know that those very attributes – or lack thereof – would eventually come to be seen as the ideal Hollywood action movie. Add The Rock as the leading man and by golly you’ve got yourself a perfect flick to release in early fall as counter-programming to all those artsy fancy “gay serial killer riding horseback” type movies that dominate the season. At first I was convinced the stories about the movie being made were part of an elaborate hoax by my friends who had planted these for me to read. At first I was impressed by the creativity they showed in making it look like Universal had started a website and thought they were very clever by creating a poster for the movie. It was when I saw the first trailer that I slowly began to accept that a “Doom” movie was being made. Interestingly that triggered the same sensation that occurs when Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood starts limping off the mound in his second start of the year.
Well, there’s certainly no mistaking what this is. The one-sheet is designed to look exactly like a scene from the video game, with the rifle raised at an angle while it blasts some creepy looking baddie. If you’re thinking there’s something missing from this poster, you’re right. The name of the movie is there but nothing else is. No actors or credits of any sort are to be found here. If that doesn’t signal the studio’s attitude toward the movie, clearly and unmistakably, I don’t know what does. It means they never really cared who was going to be in the movie. They had a release date, which does appear on the poster, they had a copy point and that’s all they needed. I haven’t even been able to find an updated version of the poster that does include the credits for the people involved so the studio obviously decided that including that on a second version wasn’t worth the money.
Well that was certainly quick and to the point. Coming in at just under two minutes – at a time when even the trailer for The Fantastic Four went about 2:30 – this trailer does everything but hit the audience over the head to show how close it adheres to the game. There is some plot setup about how the mutants in the Mars lab were created by scientific experimentation gone wrong but then it’s straight into shooting at s**t. The Rock comes on screen as Sarge, the leader of a special ops team tasked with clearing out the hostiles in the now-abandoned lab. We’re given brief introductions to the rest of the mutant food – I mean the rest of the team. Once the trailer gets inside the lab, though, we get the first-person perspective from the game over and over again as various guns shoot and corners are turned. They even show us, at the very end, someone using a chainsaw against one of the monsters. This trailer blows on so many different levels it’s hard to keep track.
There’s a brief intro by one of the doomed (heh) scientists as he calls for help before the site loads. Once it does there are two ways you can navigate the content. Either you just use the tool bar at the top of the screen or click on the “Map Navigation” which takes you to some of the rooms of the research facility where you can access the same content. Let’s just use the simple toolbar since I want to get through this as quickly as possible.
Under the “Movie” heading you’ll find Story, which gives you a brief outline of the plot and characters. Interestingly, this five paragraph synopsis also appears to have served as the shooting script. Next, there are a whopping seven – that’s right seven – photos under Photos. I don’t know if I can contain my excitement. There are some bios and film credits for those in front of and behind the camera within Cast/Crew. The Production Notes are actually pretty good and at least attempt to make it seem as if some thought and talent went into creating both the story as well as the look and feel of the movie. Kudos to those involved for trying their best with this section.
Moving on to “Media”, where you can view both the teaser and the theatrical Trailers. Neither of these are worth viewing more than once and certainly shouldn’t be studied for subtext or larger meaning. The TV Clips section is labeled as “Coming Soon”, and that’s less than a week before opening day. Way to plan ahead. There’s a brief behind the scenes clip under Clips. Finally, the Interviews section is, again, “Coming Soon.”
You can find Wallpaper, a Screensaver, some AIM icons and an E-Card under “Downloads.” Finally, there’s a section called “Special Features” which looks like it contains a couple games you can play. Since the movie is based on a video game it would seem like this is a natural idea for the movie’s website until you realize that they still haven’t loaded the games on the site. That’s right, both games are listed as “Coming Soon.” How many times do I have to complain about studios getting their act together and filling the website’s content some time before opening day before they start listening? I swear, my four-year old son listens better than some of these people.
Well, it doesn’t look like they tried very hard making the movie and they certainly didn’t try very hard with the campaign for it. Everything about the push is designed to play up how similar the movie is to the video game so if that’s what you’ve been looking forward to, this will be right up your alley. The poster looks like the cover of a video game, the trailer is so kinetic with it’s first-person perspective that you’ll likely vomit on the computer you’re using to watch it and the website is only half complete five days from opening. I have to say that I don’t think the billable hours by the marketing team could have amounted to very many as they created this campaign. Overall this would be a very disappointing campaign if I had any expectations at all.
As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Movie Marketing Madness blog.