If you've frequented Landmark Theatres over the past few years (and if you haven't, you should), you'll agree that we're increasingly subject to commercials before the trailers. I expect this from the massive multiplexes, but as inevitable as it was, it's disappointing that advertising found its way into the independent realm.
It wasn't so bad when it started some years ago. Stella Artois (the Belgian lager) is one of the largest sponsors and produces some really entertaining film-like commercials. At one point they even had selections from a short film competition that played before the movie. I can enjoy that. Additional commercials have pitched HDNET, hybrid cars, Patrón tequila and HBO documentaries (that one was fantastic), as well as a new addition in early 2007, Samsung's BlueSeat.
It's never been clear to me exactly what "BlueSeat" is, but the commercials are sticky. A scraggly animated short with a sardonic ending leads into a nerdy male voiceover: "True vision should lose nothing in translation." Then we're told to sign up to support independent film and be a "BlueSeat insider" at BlueSeat.com. Typically I laugh off such offers, but this one seemed right up my alley. Of course I signed up, expecting roses and gumdrops in return.
And so far? Nothing. They've had "features" on two movies in the last 8 months, the message boards are a frightening ghost town, and I'm not "inside" anything but a frustrating marketing gimmick. There are empty promises of preview screenings and behind-the-scenes access, even a drawing for a Samsung TV that, to my knowledge, never even took place.
Yesterday came another dangling carrot when they emailed me to announce the launch of "Movie Buzz" at BlueSeat.com. What, you might ask, is "MovieBuzz"? Simply a headline feed from Rotten Tomatoes and Cinematical. Why wouldn't I just go those sources, where the news is fresh and the site is vibrant? I sure hope no one on Samsung's payroll is making a living off of BlueSeat ideas. For all we "insiders" know, it could be run an intern, monkey, or a team comprised of both. The site is stale.
The point in all of this is that Samsung has pulled the wool over everyone's eyes in pretending to be some huge supporter of independent film, when in reality it's nothing more than an advertising scheme for suckers like me. No longer do I enjoy the creepy shorts, and no longer am I hopeful about the purity of independent film through Landmark Theatres. Do something, Mark Cuban.