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“I’d Never Write Something Like That”: Wally Pfister Says Marketing Team Created Dialogue For 'Transcendence' Trailer

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by Kevin Jagernauth
April 10, 2014 11:03 AM
12 Comments
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The common complaints about movie marketing run the gamut from campaigns that give away for too much before the movie opens, trailers that spoil key moments in the film or just flat out inaccurate representations of what the finished product may be. But the thing is, marketing departments don't care about any of that stuff. Their only job is to make people interested enough in buying tickets on opening day—that's it. So if that means showing the sexiest part of the climatic moment in the film, so be it. Or in the case of Warner Bros., if it means making up dialogue to fit the tone of a trailer, that's what they'll do.

During a panel at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention (via Thompson On Hollywood), director Wally Pfister revealed that a dramatic line in the "Transcendence" trailer—Morgan Freeman uttering “It will be the end of mankind as we know it”—wasn't his idea. 

“...that line is not in the movie,” Pfister told attendees at the panel, saying that WB's marketing team put it in there. “I’d never write something like that.”

It's a startlingly candid admission from a filmmaker and one wonders what else Pfister and the marketing team might have battled over. But the bigger question is what purpose it serves making up dialogue for a trailer that won't be in the film. Is it effective advertising or does it create false expectations? Let us know below.

"Transcendence" opens on April 18th.

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12 Comments

  • agriuR | April 15, 2014 7:25 PMReply

    Wow, id love to see just one movie from the negative commenters

  • Yup | May 4, 2014 5:54 AM

    Well chances are most of the negative commenters don't have dads who were executives at ABC news. So you'll have to forgive them that they haven't been able to network their way up to the point that they're shooting a hollywood movie.
    But, I'm pretty sure if you split that $100 million Pfister had between 20 of them, there would be at least 3 or 4 that could rank better than 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. They would probably be able to achieve a better ROI too. One thing I'm guessing none of them would do, that Pfister did, is shoot it on film.

  • cirkusfolk | April 10, 2014 5:00 PMReply

    Yeah I'm calling BS on this article too. Are you telling me Wally that the Morgan Freeman line from the trailer was so important to the studio that they had him come back in after shooting was complete and rerecord audio without your knowledge? If so all that tells me is that this movie is so crappy they couldn't pull a single interesting piece of dialogue from it. I seriously think Wally is already covering his bases in preparation that this movie is gonna A) suck and B) not make money. Then he can just blame it on the Morgan Freeman line from the trailers.

  • owdl114 | April 10, 2014 4:18 PMReply

    Wow! The claws are already out for Wally Pfister. BTW there's a very good interview (the first part is up anyway) he did with Mark Kermode on the 'Kermode Uncut' in which he talks about his exploitation days.

  • Alex Gradet | April 10, 2014 4:17 PMReply

    "The common complaints about movie marketing run the gamut from campaigns that give away for too much before the movie opens, trailers that spoil key moments in the film or just flat out inaccurate representations of what the finished product may be. But the thing is, marketing departments don't care about any of that stuff. "

    While I don't disagree with your first points about the problems with trailers in general, I believe your last remark in this quote is an entirely unfair generalization against an entire section of the entertainment industry.

    Cards on the table, I've been a TV marketer for the better part of a decade, so obviously I'm going to take a little offense at so dismissive a remark. But you not only dismiss the work of people in my field, but completely ignore every trailer that doesn't succumb to the "common complaints" you've cited in your lede.

    Everybody's pretty stoked about Godzilla, based so far, entirely on the strength of its teasing print, trailer and TV campaign.

    Or, what about Inception, which won Mr. Pfister his Academy Award for cinematography? That campaign set a tone that's been mimicked or emulated by nearly every blockbuster campaign in its wake, and gave away almost no details about the movie, except what was needed to excite and engage the audience.

    Were these the work of marketers who "don't care about any of that stuff"?

    Please consider your generalizations before using them in the future or, if I may make a generalization of my own, don't use them in the future.

  • yer | April 10, 2014 3:08 PMReply

    He hasn't written any of Transcendence, what's his point?

  • Jack Swagger | April 10, 2014 2:21 PMReply

    Pfister didn't even write the movie, Jack Paglen wrote the movie.

  • Spoilerdirector | April 10, 2014 1:03 PMReply

    It's pretty comical how full of himself Pfister is considering his claim to fame is bring the DP in someone else's movies.

  • and | April 10, 2014 12:49 PMReply

    Nobody cares what this studio hack director thinks...he didn't pay for the film so shut up and do what they pay you to do

  • Huh | April 10, 2014 11:31 AMReply

    Since when did he write any of Transcendence? Jack Paglen wrote all of Transcendence.

  • Jason | April 10, 2014 11:25 AMReply

    Hey, you're supposed to tell *me* what to think, not the other way round.

  • Carl | April 10, 2014 2:06 PM

    Jason, I don't know you, but I think that I like you.
    Or at least, your wit.

    PS: Thanks to SPOILERDIRECTOR and AND and the single chap between those accounts to take over and tell me what to think. In the most subtle way

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