By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
“There have been literally dozens and dozens of calls and e-mails from heads of marketing at different studios, saying this may be singly the worst job they’ve ever seen on a movie whose unique voice deserved to be heard through positioning, title, marketing tie-ins and knowing your audience. But Rob [Friedman] and Summit infantilized their audience. They presumed that since HSM was a hit, and the same star was in their movie singing, they should just sell it the same way.
“Rob had this idea in his head to sell it with the Disney slant, and no one could sway him. People tried, trust me. They knew the movie tested through the roof, but the materials didn’t. And still he was bullish. He’s just so fucking arrogant. The real problem was that this was [Walden Media] Cary Granat’s baby and when he was let go, and Alex Schwartz was let go, the project got taken over by Summit [where] Erik Feig was in the middle of Twilight, so it became Rob’s baby.
“He saw Vanessa singing, and he could only think of one way to sell it. The only problem is, she’s not playing Gabriella from HSM. She’s playing a dark, monotone goth character. And she’s really pretty good. But you wouldn’t know it by the ads. They should have let the audience rediscover her as this [Ally] Sheedy, Breakfast Club freak, but instead, they found shots of her smiling, and sold it on that. And even though the movie was so NOT Disney. You’ve got lines like “a Nuremberg rally produced by MTV,” and a whole section that takes place in an abandoned CBGB’s talking about the Killers, the Sex Pistols, Black Flag, the Police and U2. You’ve got a kid obsessed with David Bowie, writing him letters throughout the movie.
“The movie deserved to be seen. Todd Graff wrote and directed a beautiful, lyrical film with a killer soundtrack that the Hollywood Reporter critic compared to a cross between Cameron Crowe and John Hughes. Read the Washington Post review. It’s crazy-making.
“For what it’s worth, Rob is very contrite now. He’s apologizing to everyone. Tail between his legs, that kind of thing. But as the reality hits, it’s too little, way too late. Heartbreaking.”
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