While most observers consider Knight and Day's underperformance at the box office to be a reflection on Tom Cruise, one very good executive soldier is insisting that the movie's weak draw is really a reflection on him. Fox’s co-president of marketing, Tony Sella, tells the L.A. Times that Knight and Day is totally, completely, 100 percent his fault: “Blame me, don't blame Tom Cruise. We did lots of focus groups for this film, and no one ever said there was a star problem. Never. Tom Cruise was not the issue. I take full responsibility." Did you hear that? He's screaming from the rooftops! Tom Cruise was not the problem with Knight and Day! The problem was the screwed-up marketing!
Sella makes a pretty convincing case that Fox's marketing team at least helped to mess this one up. Consider the puzzling poster that didn’t have Cruise or Diaz’s face on it. Sella's fault:
"I was doing an homage to [fabled title designer] Saul Bass. It was a way for us to signal that this was a different, adult kind of movie . It wasn't in any way us trying to hide anyone, simply to make the film look unique."
The general confusion about what the movie was about? Sella's fault:
"You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know that when you got your trailer out in front of the biggest movie of all time [Avatar] and you still didn't have the tracking numbers you should have, it wasn't an awareness problem. It was a problem with our message.The minute the [bad] tracking came out, we went into Def Con 5, because the tracking never lies. We reacted almost daily in a way to make the campaign better, with different ideas and different spots."
Also Sella's fault? Believing in the power of grown-ups.
"If you're over 40, this movie was a rock star — the whole concept, the Nick and Nora of it all. That was the whole theory behind selling the film, that it was a cool, adult movie, hence the poster and the graphics behind it I guess that if I'm guilty of anything, it's that I always believed an adult movie could work, even in the summer."