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By Chris Thilk | March 30, 2005

I have to admit to not being familiar with the Sin City graphic novels. I love Frank Miller’s work on The Dark Knight Returns and was conversational if not learned on his run on Daredevil. That being said I knew of Sin City and knew it was some sort of hyper-noir with outlandish plots and just a love of gritty storytelling. The movie, though, looks very interesting and is definitely on my list of movies to see.

While the look of the movie is very cool 75% of my interest is in seeing Jessica Alba play a stripper.

The Trailer

Both the teaser and theatrical trailers are designed to just blow your socks off visually. My first impression on seeing actual footage was that this movie was fairly similar in style to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow with one notable exception: This one doesn’t look like it sucks.

Almost all in black and white with only brief spots of color, the plot points come fast and furious in both trailers. Quick shots of Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Rosario Dawson and the other leads flicker past in speeding cars, while others shoot at them or embrace in a sense of desperation. The exteriors always seem cloudy and just on the verge of raining, adding to the noir-esque feeling of the movie.

Have I mentioned Jessica Alba plays a stripper?

The Poster

At first a series of character-centric posters were released feature Willis, Dawson and a few others. All of them were available in either black and white or color. This is standard practice for these large ensemble movies with lots of headliners. I’m beginning to suspect stars are demanding them as part of their contracts when they sign on. It’s almost like these are compensation for not being the only headliner in a movie. A little bit of ego padding. All of these contain a few lines of comic-book looking text describing the character, an addition I approve of since it opens up the poster to outsiders.

The final theatrical poster combined all of these character-specific images and assembled them all onto one. The problem I have with this tactic is the final image tends to seem a bit cluttered. It’s not that I don’t like it or that it doesn’t work (it does) but it just seems overly messy.

Have I mentioned Jessica Alba plays a stipper? Did I also mention one of the posters shows this? I may need to take a moment.

The Website

Great site with one big caveat. First the good parts.

“Characters” is one of the best character description sections of a website I’ve come across. Over a dozen characters are showcased and each gets some combination of brief video clip, IM icons, wallpaper and/or their own poster. I love this approach of making everything available for that character in one place but I was surprised at there being no actor bio. More on that later.

There’s only a brief Synopsis available in “The Film”. It’s not a very long one (hence my use of the word “brief”. “Media” is chock full with both trailers as well as a photo gallery of about 30 pictures which aren’t just stills lifted from the trailer. “Original Art” contains some pretty cool production sketches but there are no notes on whether they were created by Frank Miller or someone else. Considering Miller’s involvement with the film I wouldn’t be surprised if he did them but I’d like to be sure.

“Downloads” consolidates all the wallpapers, IM icons and posters available for each character and adds a desktop theme for good measure. I really have to applaud their handling of this stuff as it’s very convenient to find and use. There are also some “Games” available to play that are very simple in both concept and execution as opposed to some movie’s web-games (cough, Elektra, cough).

So that’s what’s available. Here’s the caveat I was talking about: There is a ton of content that is not yet on the site but is labled “Coming Soon”. I’m writing this a week from opening day and that kind of oversite for a major release like “Sin City” is inexcusable. A brief list of what is not yet on the site:

Production Notes (Under “The Film”)
Cast bios (Under “The Film”)
Filmmaker bios (Under “The Film”)
Soundtrack information (Under “Media”)
Sin City ID – not sure what this is (Under “Downloads”)
Two out of three Games (Under “Games”)
The entire section on “The Books”


I love the posters, I love the trailers and this movie looks very exciting. The lack of attention to the website, though, forces me to give the campaign for “Sin City” an overall negative review, though. They have done a great job building word of mouth for this release with interviews and internet buzz but when one of the key marketing components is given short shrift then it points to putting too many eggs in one basket. This is a comic-book adaptation and they couldn’t even get information on the source material onto the website a week before opening day. That’s inexcusable.

But have I mentioned Jessica Alba plays a stripper.

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.

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