Monday, January 6, 2014

FARE THEE NOT SO WELL:  You might have noticed an odd ad for Inside Llewyn Davis in Saturday's New York Times, appearing to reprint a tweet from Times critic A.O. Scott, who named the film the year's best.  However, not only was the tweet modified from its original context (which included references to American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street), but Scott didn't consent to its use--the Times has the story, which raises interesting questions about use, attribution, and modification.


  1. Benner6:03 PM

    Frankly, I don't understand the argument about consent / non-consent. If you don't want your tweet used in an ad, don't write it. Now, whether "twitter" has an argument that its interest in the tweet was violated by its use in the ad is another story.

    Ordinarily, the doctoring of the tweet while presenting it as if it were a screenshot, would be problematic, but the meaning isn't changed. I do think it's problematic that it's presented as the tweet in full, but it's not one Tony Scott has any real complaint about. That goes to the point in the article that the Times shouldn't have accepted the ad, but this is truly form over substance.

    By far, the most disturbing thing is a group of horizontal competitors agreeing not to advertise critically of each others' products -- and not just because negative movie ads would be fantastic and hilarious: "if you watch Grudge Match, the terrorists win." Wouldn't they, though?

  2. I don't know if the rule applies to general movie advertising, but there are a whole series of rules AMPAS applies to Oscar season about what you can and can't say in advertising and what you can/can't do--the big ones being "no attacks on other films" and a limitation to referring to "Oscar nominee" when the person in question is not a current cycle nominee. Sanctions can include disqualification from Oscar consideration or other penalties.

  3. Benner8:51 PM

    staying positive makes eminent sense for individual studios to do (no burning bridges with the actors associated with other films, no retaliation by other studios), and positive ads only is a superior equilibrium for the movie industry as a whole, but I do question whether the studios can agree among themselves (or with bodies over whom they exercise control) ex ante not to do it. But again, I don't know who's injured by it, so if it's in rule of reason world (as I assume it is because it's not an agreement not to compete, at all, just a limitation on how to compete), it's probably legal. I'm just not sure it's something to gloss over lightly: self-imposed limits are not good reasons not reprint the whole tweet. And clearly, if Tony Scott is saying Inside Llewyn Davis is the best film of the year, only a few others are even in that conversation: e.g. Wolf, American Hustle. It's not actually disparaging about these films to mention them as numbers 2 and 3, but they're already implicitly contrasted in a way a film like Thor 2 isn't because Thor 2 doesn't strive to be the best picture of the year and wouldn't be marketed as such.

    I wonder if this is all a ruse by studio A to get us talking about the tweet and thereby contrast the films of studios B and C, though. (A contrast ad and a negative ad are different.) If so, no Oscar for you, Joel and Ethan.