Monday, October 09, 2006

How we saved a movie...in ten minutes


To underscore what I said yesterday about “trailer moments”, my writing partner and I were called in last year to help out on a trailer. A major studio was assembling the trailer for their big January comedy and realized, there wasn’t one big joke in the entire movie. What’s astounding is that it took them that long. They couldn’t tell from the script? Or the dailies? Or the rough cut? Or a preview screening?

But once they did realize they had a 90 minute comedy with less laughs than a C-SPAN briefing they snapped into action. But instead of spending the money to fix the film, they decided to improve the trailer. David and I were hired to write ONE JOKE. They would reshoot a scene to include our joke although it wouldn’t make the final cut of the film (because who needs one laugh?).

So we did, the trailer played, the movie was just as bad as always and it became a boxoffice success.

And now I’m praying for a sequel.

17 comments:

shecanfilmit said...

Failure to Launch? Lol. I just saw the film. Didn't buy it. But loved the trailer.

Anonymous said...

Hey, could you do that to Studio 60? It'd be nice for them to have one joke in that "comedy show" within the tragedy of the show proper.

JordyB said...

Big Momma's House 2? I haven't seen it but I find it hard to believe there aren't a million huge trailer laughs in it. I'm sorry but a man in a fat suit looking all bug eyed saying "Wowdaaaaam!" gets me. Instead of "Guess who's back?" its "Guess who's got back", right?

Beth Ciotta said...

And I thought I'd heard it all... Priceless.

Anonymous said...

Obviously it was a "Happy Madison" production.

WF said...

So that's the secret. All this time I should have been writing trailers.

Anonymous said...

What's the going rate for one joke?

benson said...

I don't know...how much does (fill in the blank) make?

David Schwartz said...

This reminds me of a story that Joe Dante said during an interview show I worked on in the early 1980's. He was talking about his days as a trailer editor for Roger Corman on many of his low-budget productions. He talked about some really exciting footage they had of a helicopter crash, and how this footage apparently made it into many trailers (although not in the movies) to make the action in the trailer seem more exciting and get people to go. Apparently, when people went to the movie, they didn't remember (or there was nothing they could do about) the fact that this exciting helicopter crash footage wasn't in the movie!

poor man said...

Before "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" was released, there was a trailer where Steve Martin and Michael Caine are strolling down the Riviera. As they pass by an old woman, Steve pushes her into the water.

That scene was never in the movie, and I was bummed because it was a great bit of slapstick, and it was memorable enough to get me to see the movie.

Eric said...

You don't have to tell us the movie, but please, tell us how much you were paid.

You could even lie and add an extra zero to make it more ridiculous.

Dante Kleinberg said...

Reading great stories like this is always torture because you know you'll never find out what movie it was.

Though I'm sure I've seen several movies where a joke or scene I remembered from the trailer wasn't actually in the film, I can't recall any off the top of my head.

Mike Barer said...

I didn't watch Studio 60 either.

Tenspeed & Brownshoe said...

Can anyone say, Last Holiday?

Yeah...your welcome everyone.


--Tenspeed

bstampy said...

poor man... What no one noticed in the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels trailer was Michael Caine shoving an ice cream cone into a kid's face -- the audience was too distracted laughing at the woman falling in the water.

thehardmenpath said...

it HAS to be the bigger tits joke in Bruce Almighty.

Dhppy said...

How much would it cost to write a joke for C-Span? Really, it needs to step it up in order to keep up with British Parliament, and especially that one Asian caucus where the representatives break out in an annual fist fight. Maybe if you have Cheney sit behind The Speaker with a shotgun.