Pic premieres, promos perk despite war

'Girl,' 'Apart' bows go on; 'Anger' festivities canceled

The war in Iraq has brought anxiety to the film business, but the glitzy preems and costly ad campaigns that accompany movie rollouts are, for the most part, proceeding as usual.

There were initial concerns that media would be so focused on covering the war that new films wouldn’t get coverage and television would preempt ads. Still, studio execs shepherding new releases report their ad buys are being honored.

Studios, though, have had trouble buying additional last-minute TV ad time since ad inventories have been reduced to accommodate make-goods. Most at risk in a tight scatter market are films like “Chicago” and “The Pianist,” which are looking to capitalize on their Oscar nods with fresh campaigns.

Last Thursday, Warners preemed “What a Girl Wants” with red-carpet arrivals and a party afterward. Ditto with Tuesday’s debut of New Line’s “A Man Apart” at the Chinese Theater.

Warners also is going ahead with its “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” DVD launch in London next Tuesday. There will be a major party at Leavesden Studios, where the pic lensed. The party will include a red carpet, stars from the film and journalists from most of the regions where the DVD will be released.

The studio also is proceeding as normal with the April 10 preem for “Malibu’s Most Wanted” at the Chinese Theater, with an after-party at the Highlands.

A spokesperson for Warners says promoting films has been affected, “but not to the degree I would have anticipated. For the most part, we’ve been able to carry out our plan. You (might) be bumped from Time magazine, and morning news shows are going to devote most of their time to war coverage, but Channel 1 and MTV are going to be fine.”

In addition to Warners’ plans, MTV Films will have a red carpet and party for its April 8 “Better Luck Tomorrow” launch. MGM has made no plans to change the press line for the April 9 “Bulletproof Monk” preem at the Chinese or the after-party at Hollywood & Highland’s Grand Ballroom.

Disney is planning to have a red carpet and after-party for the April 11 preem of “Holes” at the El Capitan. The Mouse House also had a red carpet/after-party preem Monday for “Ghosts of the Abyss” at the Universal Imax.

Sony did cancel the red-carpet arrivals and the reception scheduled to precede Thursday’s “Anger Management” premiere at the Village Theater because of the war. The studio also had canceled arrivals and the after-party at last week’s New York preem of “Basic.”

But Sony is planning to have a red carpet and an after-party for the May 4 premiere of “Daddy Day Care” primarily because it’s a benefit for the Fulfillment Fund. The studio’s next major releases would be “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and “Hollywood Homicide” in June. No decision has been made on those preems in terms of red carpet or parties.

Still, the promo engine isn’t exactly humming. The war has created some isolated marketing headaches, including Warner Bros.’ decision to take a peace sign out of its “What a Girl Wants” ads so the pic wouldn’t seem to be anti-war.

And within a few hours of the start of war, Paramount bumped the Meg Ryan boxing pic “Against the Ropes” from its sked.

In addition to “What a Girl Wants,” wide releases bowing on Friday include 20th Century Fox’s “Phone Booth,” Miramax’s “DysFunktional Family” and New Line’s “A Man Apart.”

Those studios reported no changes to their marketing plans.

At the premieres, publicity departments do have concerns that stars will be asked questions on the red carpet about the war and that this could take the preem “off message”; however, most studios are proceeding as planned.

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