Film Threat archive logo


By Chris Thilk | April 6, 2005

I had considered using “Fever Pitch”, the latest opus from comedic mastermind Jimmy Fallon, as the topic for this week’s article. Then I remembered how many multi-state killing sprees, including my own (don’t tell anyone) the man’s alleged “comic-stylings” are responsible for. My decision ultimately came down to not wanting to be accountable for anymore of a body count then I am already.

So instead we put “Sahara” into the Movie Marketing Madness crucible to see what comes out or, if nothing else, see if we can get Matthew McConaughey to play the bongos as accompaniment.

“Sahara” tells the story of renowned archeologist Indiana… wait. That might be a different movie.

“Sahara” tells the story of… look, does it really matter? Present Maguffin. Insert unassuming hero-type into mythical/mystical/historical premise amongst exotic locales. Turn on Apple II-E to handle CGI. Don’t worry about script (indeed some recent movies seem to be actively avoiding scripts). Stir.

The Poster

McConaughey is a bronzed god! We must all fall at the feet of our exalted McConaughey and his acolytes, Steve Zahn and Penelope Cruz! Such is our life, devoted to the worship of these tanned (actually just slightly jaundiced-looking) icons!

I’ve got nothing constructive to offer on this poster so I’ll just ask some questions it generated:

1. If T.E. Lawrence had known this movie was going to be made do you think he would have bothered either going into or coming out of the desert?

2. Does Tom Cruise collect posters for Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman movies?

3. Can we try whoever kicked off this series of crappy movies involving the investigation of historical inaccuracies for crimes against humanity?

The Trailer

Here’s another question: Does the presence of Steve Zahn make this movie worthwhile all on its own? If anyone or anything can make a movie about looking for a Civil War battleship in the middle of the Sahara desert (yes, you read that correctly) it’s him.

Most of the trailer is made up of him cracking wise about something outrageous McConaughey wants to do. That’s fine but it also probably uses up what limited wit this movie possesses. The rest is a mix of action sequences and the barest of bare plot outlines.

The Website

Laid out like a map, the website seems like it has a lot of good stuff but it’s not very well stocked and definitely does not break any new ground in terms of offerings.

Let’s start off with “Downloads”, where you can find a screensaver, about a half-dozen AIM icons and a couple wallpapers. The “Photo Gallery” contains a bit over a dozen pictures but irritatingly does not provide an actual gallery to pick and choose from. Instead you have to scroll through them all to find that, unfortunately, there are none of Penelope Cruz topless. That would have been at least something to push this into even mediocre territory.

“Games” contains two games. “Up the River” plays like an old arcade game where you play as a boat that is dropped off by a helicopter and then must fight your way up river. It almost gives you the sense of being on the set of “Apocalypse Now”. The objective of “The Objective” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) is to disable a bomb. It’s as exciting as it sounds which is not at all. Promotional partners can be found in “Promotions” in case you’re interested in seeing who has coughed up some cash to have their products put in the movie.

Profiles of the filmmakers can be found in “Cast and Crew”, where I learned (much to my dismay) that “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days” was McConaughey’s most successful film. “The Film” contains the usual, if surprisingly well written, Synopsis, Production Info and other tidbits. Whatever you do, don’t click the “Mission Dossier”. It’s pointless and contains almost no information.

There are two portions of the website that were actually interesting. “Media” contains not only the trailer but also six clips from the movie which are basically extensions of scenes found in the trailer. Still, it’s something.

The other part of note is a blog written by McConaughey while on the road promoting the movie. It’s stream of consciousness and not extraordinarily well written but it’s nice to see a studio using this as part of their site. My only problem is there is no RSS feed to subscribe to for updates. The blog is actually hosted on which says a lot about the demographic the marketers are aiming for.


I can’t even summon the strength to recap this campaign. Both it and the movie it is ostensibly promoting are so cookie-cutter and formulaic it’s almost hard to believe. The blog is probably the best part of the entire site simply because it shows a studio stretching a bit. As I wrote on Movie Marketing Madness: The Blog, studios are showing a remarkable lack of creativity when it comes to their websites so any advance in this area is something I’m going to applaud.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon