Six Movies That Were Clearly Marketed Wrong

A scene from ``Branded.''

You know that feel? When you go to a movie suspecting one thing, and yet you get something else? Maybe you thought you were seeing a thriller, and it ended up being a slow-paced drama. or maybe you thought you were signing up for a horror movie, and it ended up being some cheesy sci-fi fest. The point is, this is not our faults. In most of those examples, it is safe to say someone saw a trailer for these films, and was ultimately given the wrong idea about the film from the very advertisement they are using to sell it. I have fallen for this many times. So much so. it inspired this piece. Here are five films that were completely marketed wrong, and most people ended up hating the movies as a result.

Cable Guy

The "Medieval Times" scene as spectacular, though.

The Medieval Times scenes was pretty f*cking spectacular, though.

First things first. I love this film, so don’t take this as a list where I am making digs at any of these films, because that is just not the case. I am simply pointing out how this particular film was marketed, and how that was the single reason most people hated it, when it really was a brilliant film. The problem was that this movie dropped at Jim Carey’s apex. He had just gotten off In Living Color, and had a massive hit on his hands with Ace Venture, so naturally, everyone assumed the next Carey movie will cash in on his pure physical comedy and such.

That was NOT the case.

What we ended up getting was a FAR DARKER character than most people suspected, and a wholly dark and unsettling film (but still, a brilliant and riotous performance from Carey, and a performance that deserves far more credit than it gets). But people came to see it thinking they were getting “kooky” Carey, and the reality is, they were getting batshit crazy Carey. and that fact alone was enough to scare some people off, which is a shame, because as far as black comedies go, this film is one of my faves. The spider across the scene face is just so…so…badass.

The Watch


This is how you turn on an Xbox One.

Again, a movie billed completely wrong. But thankfully, I know some people who know some people who know some people, so I had the script for The Watch, and knew just what to expect. I also really liked the casting. I thought the energy when these guys got together was pretty f*cking funny, and the casting of Richard Ayoeda (from the IT Crowd) was extra awesome. I also know that it was directed by Lonely Island alumni Akiva Schafer, who directed Hot Rod, which is one of the greatest comedy movies ever made. So I knew I would enjoy the movie, regardless of how out there it ended up getting.

But most people didn’t feel that way.

You see, as much as it seemed like you were seeing a movie about a bunch of funny dudes trying to keep their neighborhood safe, you aren’t. You are seeing a movie about aliens trying to take over the world. That ended up being way too much of a leap for most people to feel comfortable with. Me, I am insane and knew what I was signing up for when I saw it, so I dug it. But like I said before, most didn’t. I say give it another shot. The chemistry between the actors and the fun they are having merits a viewing, atleast once.



Such a visually delicious film.

I loved the movie Sunshine. I think it has some of the best Sci-Fi shots of the current generation. And again, the cast is top notch. But the problem people encounter with Sunshine is a polarizing one. About 3/4ths into the movie, this film goes from being about a group of scientists and specialists who are on their way to “fix the sun”, to a horror/slasher movie. This put a great deal of people off on the film, and many said they had felt “betrayed” and would not have gone and seen the movie had it marketed itself properly.

Well, then, they did the right thing in this case. They marketed their film in such a way where they knew how to get you in the door, even if they knew the end would turn you off. I, for one, loved the film, regardless. Yes, the murderer on the ship may seem out of place, but dude watched everyone he love died, and got stranded. I think with ANY space movie, those are some risks we run. And also, who are we to say a movie is not allowed to switch up its pacing? It was an original and interesting twist, but one that pissed many people off because no one saw it coming.

That aspect just makes me like it more.

Bridge to Terabithia

she dies

” Don’t get too attached, buddy. I totes die in about 45 minutes.”

Oh man, this case of marketing is just evil. Make a trailer for a movie that looks like it very well may be the next Neverending Story for the new generation. Get everybody hyped up about how it will be an AWESOME FILM FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. Now, smart people who read books know better. Terabithia is, well, a Shakespearean tragedy for kids. It really is. But if you watched the trailer, you did NOT get that impression. You saw kids fighting trolls and you assumed (making an ass out of u) that this would be some sort of spiritual successor to the Harry Potter series. And BOY were you wrong.

Long and the short (spoilers here) the little girl in the movie just kind of ups and dies.

Yeah, REALLY. And while it may hint that the other kid will carry her soul and keep her spirit alive in their imaginary land of Terabithia, it is an imaginary world, and in the real world, the little girl is dead. And that is petty much how the movie ends, give or take a monologue or two. A movie like this set the tone for that weep and cheese fest: The Odd Life of Timothy Green.


A scene from ``Branded.''

Yeah, I know it looks like it would be badass, but it is far more cerebral than badass, be warned.

A cerebral movie about advertising and consumerism, yet if you watched the trailer for this film a few years back, it CLEARLY looked like a Matrix style movie, with action scenes and mind bending imagery. And if that is what you sat down, hoping to watch, boy, that sure WASN’T what you got.

Again, Branded is not a terrible movie, but the idea itself wasn’t flushed out enough to even BE a movie, and when you add to that a trailer that makes it look like giant mascots are taking over the world, and one man will have to take them down, you really make a perfect storm of crappy advertising (ironic for a movie ABOUT crappy advertising). Branded is FAR more cerebral then it hinted at in its trailers, and for that reason, they reached out to the wrong kind of audience. You brought in the summer action crowd, who booed the tedium of the film. But if they aimed for the brainy crowd, they would have done far better, because those souls are more apt to appreciate what they were trying to say with the (ambitious ) film.

Love it or hate it, though, I can safely say it will not what you are expecting. And is DEFINITELY not the movie the trailer is leading you to believe.



They look alike and both lack so much good looks and charisma, you start thinking they are related.

A great movie, no doubt (and the last time I will like either lead, Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart), but a movie that was REALLY sold wrong. The reality is this was just after SUPERBAD exploded, and because it was directed by the same guy who had directed SUPERBAD, they hoped they could bring in a whole SUPERBAD audience, which would have assured them some awesome numbers. Problem was, it was nothing like SUPERBAD.

I mean, it was all the same teen-angst, but the jokes took a backseat to the honesty of the story. The flaws about everyone that get slowly revealed the more time you spend with them. The idea that the person you love just doesn’t want you as badly as you want him or her. I mean, there are a ton of tough lessons to be learned here, and the movie teaches those lessons with grace and honesty, but everyone wanted more jokes about “the p in the v”, so this film floundered as a result of that, which is a shame, because it really is quite good.

And Kristen Wiig is in it, so you know it has to be good.


I’d SO slow dance with this woman.

This just leads me to wonder how well any of these films would have done had they been marketed right. The good thing about all of this is movies like these earn “cult film” status over time, and I would rather have made a cult film than some movie Hollywood eats up, so maybe some of these movies PLANNED it this way.

Or maybe they were just marketed poorly.  Yes, pretty sure it’s that one.

Also, I wanted to take a moment to show you a poster for the new action movie I am making. It is called: Manniversary.

me and rob

It’s a horror/action hybrid we are DELIBERATELY marketing wrong.

Similar Posts


  1. Good topic. Agree 100% on ‘Bridge to Terbithia’ and ‘Adventureland’.

    One that stood out for me was “Everybody’s fine”. Trailer makes it look like a light comedy, but in reality it’s a ball your eyes out drama. Thanks a lot marketing team.

  2. Agreed on SUNSHINE, which I thought was a fantastic movie. People who dismiss that last quarter as a “traditional slasher film” either slept through the first 3/4s or the movie OR have never even seen a “traditional slasher film” … and that’s the problem with relying on ‘word of mouth’ to promote a film.

    Good topic. It’s the kind of thing I could go on and on about (as probably could many). I think it rears its head in many different forms (including reboots), and it only further signifies our collective creative decay in cinema.

  3. Some of these were marketed wrong and some of these just lacked advertisement, and people were left to figure out what the move was just by the poster, it’s a very thin line. Cable Guy is the best example, and it’s really not that great a film, but it’s quite memorable and it captures so much of the late 90’s weirdness. I have it up there in my list of candidates to be named THE 90’s film. Part of the problem with Cable Guy is that the project went through several script and direction changes, so by the end even the studio didn’t know what Judd Apatow (writer) and Ben Stiller (director) went for. It was originally meant to be way lighter and star Chris Farley.

  4. Anne Hathaway is objectively superior to Kristen Wiig. Be mad. >:D
    Stewart was all right in Runaways, but better in Adventureland.

    Hey, have you ever seen Romero’s Season of the Witch? Well, you should if you haven’t, but I’m pretty sure you’ve seen about everything ever so that shouldn’t be a problem. Watch the trailers for it to see the most insanely off-target marketing ever. Seriously, they changed the title to “Hungry Wives” and promoted it as a porn.

  5. I’ve always felt that The Orphanage was marketed wrong. I thoroughly loved that movie, and saw the trailer afterward, but I couldn’t help but think there had to have been more than a few disappointed people in the audience.

    Great post, but I second the proofreading remark.

  6. I’d throw Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem on here because he touted it as a scary horror movie but instead we got a bunch of old naked broads and some tentacle midget. Booooo

  7. Every example here is sound, with extra props for Seven Psychopaths, which was MUCH darker than it appeared.
    Also, SHOUTOUT TO DONATO! My horror brother. Have’t seen Lords yet, dude, but I will prepare myself for old boobs, for you never mislead me.
    Also, just tell me where the typo is, guys, I proofread the shit out of these, but when you are having a 30,000 word count run like I have had since Friday, all words look alike.

  8. *UPDATE*
    Holy shit, there were A LOT of typos in this piece.
    NO idea what state I was in when I hit the save button, but that was awful.
    Just went through and fixed them all, and I thank you all for telling me in as delicately a manner as you did, for if this were Buzzfeed, and you were me, I would have been FAR less kind.

  9. SLITHER. this was advertised as a straight up horror flick and had no desire to see it. i went to best buy one day, it was on sale for $5 and i had a $5 gift card with nothing else to get. a friend said it was good so i went for it.

    it was WONDERFUL. but a horror movie it is not. more of a gory horror comedy. it was intentionally meant to be funny. and i think it missed out on a huge audience due to them marketing it as a straight horror film.

  10. Carrey*
    at least*

    Don’t even get me started on punctuation errors. Call me when Unreality has an opening for any sort of editing position.


  11. THE GREY

    The advertised it like Taken + bare fisted wolf fighting. In reality it was a essentially a meditation on death (and a pretty darn good one as long as you don’t get hung up on the realism of wolf behavior) . I’m sure it helped their box office to advertise it as the former, but I know a lot of people left dissatisfied.

  12. I neglected to watch Cabin in the Woods until recently, because every advertisement I saw for it made me think “Oh, another Evil Dead-type teens go camping horror movie.” And I love the ED series, but there was nothing that made me say “I HAVE to see that” about CITW. And I ended up loving it.

  13. You missed one of the biggest marketing misfires in recent years–John Carter [of Mars]. Although that wasn’t misleading advertising so much as ineffectual advertising.

  14. When I read this title, The first thing I thought was “John Carter”! That movie’s advertising was a disaster.
    Second thing I thought was “Bridge to Terebithia” and thought it wouldn’t be on your list because it was a kids’ movie. Kudos to you! I actually went to this movie with a Scout troop because it was the only thing playing with a pg rating. I was pleasantly surprised that I was saw an in depth movie that tackled real issues. The marketing made it look like a cheesy “let’s go frolic with trolls and fairies in magic land snoozefest.”

  15. I had no idea about Terabithia until we watched it. Made me mad that they killed the girl because the boy couldn’t play with her that day.

    I still love Cableguy. I’ll see it on TNT or something while channel surfing and will watch it till the end.

    I had no plans of watching The Watch until you mentioned what it was actually about. Gonna look for it now.

  16. Can’t believe you missed Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s marketing was similar to Bridge to Terabithia – a cute fantasy film – while in reality it was an all-to-accurate and horrifying portrayal of the Spanish Civil War. Even now it’s IMDB blurb continues to give that impression (“In the fascist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world”).

    I took my kids to see that movie, g*ddammit – and we were all horrified and shell shocked by the end.

  17. Respectfully, there are still a few typos.

    The Cable Guy
    “The spider across the scene face is just so…so…badass.” Not sure if that’s supposed to be ‘screen face’ or ‘face scene’.

    The Watch
    “atleast once”

    “will not what you are expecting”

    I know I saw something else, but I don’t remember what it was at this point.

    Also, I completely agree with Terabithia, I was expecting Narnia and got the end of Little Women. Haven’t bothered watching the others, mainly because I’d heard they were marketed wrong before they were out of theaters and never bothered watching them at home. If they come on TV, I might watch them, but Adventureland just looked boring to be to begin with and nothing I’ve heard about it has changed my mind thus far. And just as a side comment, I know you said Branded looked Matrix-y in the trailers but all I can think of is Doctor Who because the guy in the picture looks like Matt Smith as The Doctor.

  18. I’d also add Fight Club to this list. I know that sounds crazy because everybody knows what the film is like these days, but at the time the studio executives really didn’t know how to advertise it, and subsequently ignored all of David Fincher’s suggestions and threw together a short trailer depicting it as a thrill ride fight movie, which they proceeded to show during the adverts of WWF. This (obviously) led to a lot of the people watching simply not getting it, with a few being pleasantly surprised.

  19. For me, a movie that definitely makes this list would be Funny People (with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen). It’s advertised as a pretty straightforward comedy about comedians, that might have the occasional serious moment. In reality, the trailer showed the only comical parts in the whole movie, and everything else was an extremely depressing, behind-the-scenes type of look at a comedian reevaluating his life.

  20. A good premise for an article, but the spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors completely detract from the article itself. When I stop reading your article for fun and start reading to see what needs corrected, something is wrong.

  21. Bridge to Terabithia was required reading for advanced readers in fourth grade (oh so long ago now) so I had an idea of what was coming. The book is so terribly depressing which is why I think they tried to add so much of the fantasy element. Sunshine is one of my favorite movies of all times so I’m glad to see it is loved by others as well.

  22. For me it was “The Black Dahlia”.. I’m still mad about that one and hating it. It was supposed to be a thriller based on true events. Instead it was a screwed up love triangle thing where somewhere in the middle they looked down and said “Hey there’s a dead girl” and went on about their stupid love triangle bull****. Hated it, hated it, hated it and can’t believe the marketing promoted it as a “serial killer, thriller” kind of thing because it couldn’t have been farther from it.

  23. Wreck It Ralph. I have a long-standing dislike for the movies for exactly the reason that you’re stating here. Watch the original teaser, the follow-up trailers and even look to the blu-ray case. In every second leading up to this movie, I was told that Ralph lived in a world full of actual video game characters. Was the Bowzer in the Villains Anonymous meeting? Indeed it was. And there he is again, with several other known baddies… None of which would be in the movie.

    I understand marketing rights and how expensive it would’ve been to do this, but that’s not the point. The point is, if the same trailer had been shown with Ralph sitting in that meeting, except he was surrounded by other fictional villians, I wouldn’t have seen it.

    So I see it and sure enough, none of those characters are used, the games are fictional rip offs and we spend the majority of the movie in a world made of candy trying to fake that it is as awesome and well known/regarded as Mario Kart.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.