Friday, March 26, 2010

TCM and advertising (and a question)

TCM proudly proclaims that it shows its movies "uncut and commercial free", which is largely true. There aren't any commercials in the movies (Joan Crawford Pepsi placement aside), and movies only get cut if TCM gets the wrong print from the distributor. That's not to say there's no advertising between the movies. Much of it is self-promotion -- how many more spots do we need for the TCM Classic Film Festival? There's cross-promotion too; every time you see the "entertainment news for the classic movie lover" spots which promo books or new to DVD, you can bet that the other studios are getting those mentions in exchange for something. Ditto when TCM tries to sell us the DVDs such as the early Cary Grant box set, which contains three movies he made at Universal. Happily, that "something" for which those mentions are being exchanged is almost definitely more movies from other studios. I don't particularly mind TCM hawking DVDs of vintage Fox, Columbia, or Universal movies it that's the price for being able to show more movies from those studios.

There's a second kind of cross-promotion, which comes when TCM programs its schedule to coincide with some event. TCM has been running a spot for a new DVD box set of four Marx Brothers movies. Sure enough, they're also showing a night of Marx Brothers movies this coming Monday. Tonight, however, is interesting. They're showing more Ray Harryhausen movies, including his last film, the early 1980s version of Clash of the Titans. By now, you've probably seen enough commercials for the new super-duper IMAX 3D remake of Clash of the Titans, which is coming to a theater (or 100 theaters) near you on April 2. It seems natural for TCM to promo a remake by programming the original, although doing it a full week early seems a bit odd. In the past, TCM have programmed appropriate "classic" movies on the same night as the new film premiered; this happened with the Sherlock Holmes movie last Christmas, and a year and a half or so ago with a night of Bonita Granville's Nancy Drew movies. Since new movies generally premiere on Fridays, it makes me wonder whether the new version of Clash of the Titans was originally scheduled to be released on March 26 instead of April 2.

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