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Eyes Wide *&!@? : Why “Eyes Wide Shut” Won’t Succumb to the Hype Curse

No, I do not already have a review for you. Yes, I know how it ends although I won’t reveal my sources for this. This isn’t a story about a profane, obscene porn flick that involves people who like to eat what one of the characters in Thomas Pynchon’s ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ does. This is a story, the story, of the second most talked about film of the summer.

Whoever you are, you have to have your head stuck in the sand not to have heard about this film. If you’re over 17, you’re probably going to get a ticket. If you’re under 17, you’re probably going to have wet dreams about getting a ticket.

In America, half of us want to see it because we’re horny, a quarter of us wants to see it because we like the Late Stanley Kubrick (I’ve been waiting to use that phrase in an article or a review ever since the guy keeled over), and the remaining quarter of us so that the moral majority can use it as a prime example of how film is the vehicle of sin.

We all knew The Phantom Menace was coming, and talking about it was a normal thing. We did it everywhere, in Loud Howard voices, with no shame of our curiosity of the tightly locked plot. Eyes Wide Shut, as a counterpart, should be retitled Eyes Mouth Shut. The few of us that talk about it do so quietly, never at the water cooler, and never, ever, at Church. Yeah, we know its coming, but we’re a deer in headlights: we can’t get out of its way.

Let’s face it, Eyes Wide Shut is coming and, seeing as The Phantom Menace ain’t doin’ too great at the BO (don’t get me wrong, it’s doing fine), we all know that the controversial film is going to break the #1 at the BO streak that Phantom Menace has had come July 16. If you watch ER or watch movies, you’ve already seen the trailer or will see it soon.

Kubrick maintains his perfection in engineering hype for the movie. In the span of 60 seconds in between commercials of the ‘ER’ season finale, he packed enough material that TV-MA should have been placed in front of the trailer. Dollars to doughnuts, it was aired after ten o’clock because the Christian Coalition would raise even more hell if it were put on during ‘Friends’, which strikes a younger demographic. I think that it would have gone well in an episode of ‘Veronica’s Closet.’

The sixty seconds during ER had everyone talking the next day. Whether it be the bit of bosom you see of Nicole Kidman, the naked corpse for about a second, the picture of a 14-year-old LeeLee Sobienski dressed in a bra and panties, or the grainy film stock that can’t help remind you of A Clockwork Orange, those 60 seconds made the hype.

We all know that the trailer had out eyes wide open (jaws hanging down), but will the movie have the same effect? Will Eyes Wide Shut succumb to the hype curse? Or, like the title of the article, will it be a bunch of Eyes Wide *&!@?

As far as Eyes Wide Shut will go, I am probably going to have Eyes Bloodshot going mad waiting for a pass to a screener to show up. I am going to devour the book like it is a Chicaga deep dish. I find myself salivating over previews hoping to catch a glimpse of the film, trying to piece the plot together based on the few scenes I know of (knowing the ending from some internet sources helps).

So hype will produce ticket sales, but that doesn’t answer the question. Kubrick has used the same tactic of shock value as he did in the ad campaign for Lolita. He has showed just a little too much but not enough for a curious fella like myself. Every single card in the hype machine game has been perfectly played. Lately, a paranoid Kubrick fan suggested that he faked his death in order to give the film more hype. Knowing Kubrick, I wouldn’t put it past him. Another Kubrick fan on alt.movies.kubrick went as far to suggest that Stanley Kubrick hyped the film personally on the newsgroup under an alias. Again, I wouldn’t put it past him.

Now I don’t know if the hype will be lived up to. I never can and never will. However, the trend feels like it will bend for Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut. Why? It’s simple, really. Conventional hype is like conventional warfare: main tactic is attrition. However, Eyes Wide Shut has not launched a massive marketing deal like some half-assed-half-animated films I know, but instead has waged Guerilla warfare. They purchased one sixty second spot, not tacked a trailer onto a single film. They created the website in such a way as to be more minimalist than the writings of Raymond Carver. Hell, they even did an underhanded trick of not making the trailers Media Player compliant or QuickTime compliant (you hear it, but you don’t see it). They’re good. They’re damn good.

When you have a film that used attrition tactics to hit up the customers for money, it reeks of a summer movie. But when you do these underhanded tactics, things that the CIA might use, you get a much better response and a much better chance of winning the war.

What message does it send? That you’re confident. If you make it reek of a summer film, you risk not making it in the black. You send the message that you know you’re bad. When you put out the little guerilla tactics, no one dares even suggest that Eyes Wide Shut will be a bad. Not even me.

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