P.T. Anderson's "Shifty Bait-and-Switch"


File this under “You’ve got to be shitting me,” or a facetious There Will Be [user defined] heading. It would be insulting to the moviegoing public and the P.T. Anderson camp if it weren’t such a daft forehead-slapper. Entitled “‘There Will Be Blood’ is about what, exactly?” – from EW:

When you hear that title, the moniker given to Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest, what images spring to mind? Gothic vampires, sure. A revenge film? Serial killer thriller, perhaps? Torture porn?

Judging by the trailer posted here, you’ll get none of the above. Based on Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, its about a greedy Texas oil prospector (Daniel Day Lewis). Now, he might (or might not) kill folks, but that’s sort of beside the point. (As is whether or not the film is any good. Which it very well might be, given Anderson’s track record.) The question is: Would you feel swindled if you showed up to see a movie called There Will Be Blood and got a period piece about crude drilling? Is this a case of smart marketing, or a shifty bait-and-switch?

Where to start?  I have to think we’re better than this, no? I understand that the Saw franchise may lay claim on the “there will be blood” line, but it stands to reason that by and large we’re exercising due diligence and checking a trailer or review before heading out to the movie house. If you’re telling me we’re at the point where people are waddling up to the ticket booth and making ad hoc selections based solely on film titles, then either a) it’s time to pack it up and shut it down, or b) look out for a big push coming down the pike for big-budgeted features under names like Strong Violence, or for the romantics: Brief Sensuality.

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. And if this is a bait-and-switch tactic, Paul’s been scheming it a least a year or two now, minimum.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 04th 2007 | Home Page | 5 Comments Subscribe to this site's feed

5 Responses

  1. William Says:

    Holy Crap! Talk about sub-mental, analysis of the minutia. Uh, slow news day in Entertainmentland, Marc Bernardin?

    In my mind, and I don’t think I’m alone in this thinking, if you are paying money to see a PTA film you know the brand you are buying. You know the cinematic lineage. You’re an astute audience member with a level of taste that goes beyond, “Movie. I buy ticket now.” Does everything need to be so spoon fed? The comments below the article are just as brainless.

    Somebody at EW needs a tall glass of Brawndo (it’s got electrolytes!)

  2. Josh Says:

    I’m not sure I agree with your analysis of the title of this film. The actual plot of “There Will Be Blood” has been very well-documented over the past couple of months. In addition, why should a title have to indicate precisely what the movie is about? Should everything be as plain as “Gladiator” or “Ray”? “There Will Be Blood” seems to bely the possibility of violence, or that malicious intentions lie under the surface. Sounds cool to me!!

  3. William Says:

    Josh – it sounds like we’re with you on this point. I think the title is great. It has this ominous violent ring to it, almost by way of a warning.

    I’m there!

  4. Josh Says:

    Oops! Didn’t realize it was a quote from EW!
    Myyyyy baaaad

  5. ‘Campfire’: Deleted Scene from ‘There Will Be Blood’ » Big Screen Little Screen Says:

    […] porn? Entertainment Weekly wonders whether naming a film There Will Be Blood qualifies as a “shifty bait-and-switch.” Go […]

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