With the release of
A Couple of Dicks Cop Out just a few weeks away, Warner Bros. is attempting to up the awareness factor of the Tracy Morgan–Bruce Willis buddy-cop pic with an aggressive television-ad campaign. Obviously, this is hardly a unique strategy; despite the way that people love to talk about declining viewership levels on TV, the fact remains that it's still the best manner in which to get the word out about mainstream Hollywood movies. And while the spots do a pretty good job of highlighting the reasons why people would want to go see the movie (Tracy Morgan cracking wise, Bruce Willis playing the badass cop), there is one important element of the film that is noticeably absent from the commercials: "A Kevin Smith Film."
We didn't really pay much attention to the fact that Kevin Smith's name, which used to signal a certain brand of edgy independent coolness, was left off the first trailer of the film. However, as we start to see a variety of different 30-second spots hit the airwaves, his complete lack of presence in the promotional campaign is becoming more and more noticeable. Smith himself admitted to us in an interview that the studio was "piss-scared [Smith would] fuck this up," but now that the film is in the can and presumably not horrible, why would they totally bury his involvement in the picture? We all know that Zack and Miri Make a Porno was a total bomb, but wouldn't they like to at least let Kevin Smith's dedicated fan base know that he's got a new movie on the way?
Then again, we're guessing that their strategy is the exact reverse. Kevin Smith is, not surprisingly, a huge presence on Twitter; over 1.6 million people follow his Thatkevinsmith feed. And if you happen to follow Smith, you know that he's been tweeting about Cop Out pretty much nonstop for the last few months, so Warner Bros. probably isn't too worried that Kevin Smith fans won't know that he's got a new movie on the way. Rather, could it be that they're concerned that in the mind of the public, the Kevin Smith brand has been tainted and become, in the words of Norm MacDonald, "box-office poison"? We'll see if their strategy changes in the coming weeks, but for now, that certainly appears to be the case.