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Spielberg’s The BFG Premieres at Cannes — Legend of Tarzan’s July 1 competitor is “Gonna be huge” – Variety

Legend of Tarzan (Movie)

Until now, Spielberg’s The BFG has had only minimal buzz — but that’s changing as of today because The BFG just had its black tie world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival — about as high profile a launch. The film is a collaboration between Spielberg and write Melissa Mathison — who wrote E.T. — and is a childhood forbidden-friendship story, pretty much along the same lines as E.T.  There is some potential for it to blow up big — just like E.T. did.  But the reviews suggest that, while it’s a very serious challenge to Legend of Tarzan — it doesn’t sound like it will ascend to the heights of E.T.  There are some outright raves, some mixed-favorable, some mixed-negative — no one has completely panned it.

UPDATE — New BFG Trailer just dropped. Here it is.

Slashfilm has the best summation of the reviews – “Mixed reviews find charm but maybe not enough Spielberg magic.”

On Rotten Tomatoes — it’s at 80% Fresh with 8 fresh and 2 rotten.

Variety gives it a near rave: An All-digital Mark Rylance wins over audiences with his big, big hears in a forbidden-friendship story that serves as Steven Splielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” for an all-new generation.”  — and, ominously for Legend of Tarzan: “The BFG” is gonna be huge. That much practically goes without saying: With Spielberg at the helm, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” screenwriter Melissa Mathison at the typewriter (though she died last November) and Dahl’s wonderful imagination — and vocabulary — at the fore, the film has ginormous box office potential. Still, without any bona-fide movie stars or franchise characters to drive worldwide audiences’ desire to see it, “The BFG” won’t have an easy time getting anywhere near the 20 highest-grossing films of all time (a list where Spielberg presently holds last place, with “Jurassic Park”).

The Guardian already has a review up and it’s basically a rave for Mark Rylance in the role of the giant, and two thumbs up for Spielberg and everything else about the movie.

Indie-Wire is mixed-favorable: “This is a lighter variation of the “E.T.” formula, impressively realized and likable without ever catapulting into more inspired territory. An eager crowdpleaser from one of the world’s greatest crowdpleasers, it gets the job done and nothing more.”

The Telegraph gives it five stars and says: “Spielberg creates a landscape of astonishments.”

The Hollywood Reporter is mixed:  “A thematic but not creative match of ‘E.T.’

Yahoo News: “The BFG is giant-sized visual splendor that just plods along.”

What does it mean for Legend of Tarzan?

Well for one thing — it’s “game on” time.  LOT has been out in front in the buzz department but this clearly means that BFG is off and running and LOT is still pretty much in the starting blocks.

But the Cannes premiere can be a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, it’s a jolt of adrenaline to an otherwise quiet promotion.  But it’s also a bigger moment of truth than most films face this early on.  If the reviews were all raves, this would be real trouble for LOT.  As it is . . .well, 80% “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes is probably higher than it will end up, if normal patterns hold.  But it won’t drift down into “Rotten” territory — and the Spielberg/Mathison/ET for a new generation storyline is daunting.

And don’t say, please, “it’s a different audience, I’m not worried.”

That’s not precisely the point.  The point is that if one films sucks all the air of the promotional “room”, it affects everyone, regardless of whether it’s precisely the same audience.

Legend of Tarzan will be dealing with the second week of Independence Day Resurgence; plus The BFG opening on the same day.

I think it’s about time for WB’s “tactical silence” to end.  The Vogue profile of Margot Robbie with a photo gallery of Margot and Alexander Skarsgard, is hopefully going to be followed up by a steady buildup.

We shall see.  I’m squirming a bit, and not feeling great at the moment. Hopefully there will be more encouraging news to report soon.




JCGOH Amazon


  • Down to 75% now. Spielberg’s “family” movies nowadays don’t seem to get the same kind of raves that his other movies seem to be getting. War Horse also got a similar reception (though I thought it was a great film) with 76% on RT and that was his last proper “family” film (not counting Tintin which was animated). On a related note, War Horse was released on December 25 and did only $79 million domestic.

    • We can hope. I’m not sure Warhorse is really a good comparable, though …… I think they will be getting a lot of promotional mileage about this being the second coming of E.T. — because of Melissa Mathison/Spielberg as a creative team, and the fact that it’s a forbidden friendship story a la E.T. I will be very happy if it turns out to be less than the kind of juggernaut opposition it’s trying to be. We’ll see.

    • I think the biggest danger for them is that it’s just not E.T. in terms of freshness. It’s hard to remember just how fresh and unique E.T. felt when it came out. I’m encouraged, for LOT’s sake, that the reviews are middling. I think mixed reviews might bury it.

  • It is time for the LOT promo machine to start there run and follow up the Vogue spread this coming week with something. Skarsgard is not making an appearance with Pena in Chicago on the May 21, when his film ,War On .Everyone will be showing at the Chicgo Film Critics affair. He usually supports all of his films 100% if he is able,so there is speculation that he may be involved in a personal appearance promo for Tarzan, one of the late night talk shows,perhaps.

  • After watching the new trailer I get the feeling Disney may have shot themselves in the foot. They once again tell too much of the story in the trailer. The first trailer was mysterious and left me wanting more. Now I know the basic story line. Family friendly story with a big happy tear filled ending. The CGI wasn’t overly impressive. I’m a little less scared of this now, but WB needs to do something soon. I was at my local Reagal 22 yesterday and saw zero promotion of Tarzan in the main lobby. I did see huge cardboard monstrosities for Independence Day, Warcraft, Dory and even The Nice Guys. I searched and the only thing I found was a lone small poster in a back distant corridor sharing the wall with ten obscure direct to video movies. I left feeling a little depressed.

    • Thanks for that report. Anyone else who can report on lobby displays or lack thereof — much appreciated.

      As for the notes on the trailer — I don’t know. The other trailers left me completely cold, whereas this one made me feel like there’s a lot more going on in the movie and caused my “want to see” meter to go up from maybe 3 to 5. But that’s just me. It will be interesting to watch the reactions to the new trailer and see what the fearless trailer reaction videos say.

  • I think you’re correct that it’s about BFG sucking the promotional air away from LOT. WB needs to get off of its duff in terms of promotion.
    Interestingly, they seem to have shown two tv trailers in the last couple days (I’ve not seen either), but neither trailers are featured on WB’s YouTube page or LOT’s pages.

    So they’re putting more out there, but they’re not announcing that they’re putting stuff out there. They’re being very very passive about advertising, I don’t think that’s a good thing at this stage.

  • No,not good. They are acting distracted. Too much drama over the poor reviews for B vs S no doubt. Lots of internal conflict over who to blame and what to do now. Let’s hope they settle it in time to put their attention back where it belongs.

    • It seems to me they’ve been fairly low key in terms of publicity for all their movies post BvS. The Good Guys’s publicity has been a bit more proactive now that’s it’s debuted at Cannes to good reviews. But as for the rest of their movies coming out in the next few months, they’re sleepwalking through the pr right now.

      • It’s like they don’t want to spend anymore money on PR than the minimum because they have no idea if their upcoming movies are good or not. They are running scared of the critics and the power they have to tank their movies. It seems like they had no idea that Bvs was bad as it was. I can’t see why not when Afleck was doing daily rewrites of the script while in costume. He certainly knew something was very wrong. When the final product was screened for the execs,they didn’t seem to have a clue either. I don’t know why it continues to amaze me that the people who make movies have no idea what a good product looks like.

        If they have to wait until the critics tell them if LOT is worth an all out pr campaign, it will be too late to launch one, obviously. They need to admit that they are clueless and bring some people in who do know. Let them watch their upcoming films and advise them which ones to support with a full on pr campaign, which to be moderate with and which to let slide.

        • “Let them watch their upcoming films and advise them which ones to support with a full on pr campaign, which to be moderate with and which to let slide.”
          But isn’t that what all those screenings are for? I’m being snarky, but that is why studios do that, to at least get some idea of how a movie is doing, what needs to be tweaked, if they really have a horrible product/brilliant product, etc.
          I don’t want to be a concern troll (like a certain commenter on IMDB has become), but their marketing behavior post BvS has me worried. They really do need to snap out of it.

          • I always thought the prescreening was,as you say, to tweak a movie but what I am talking about is the difference between audience reactions to a film that are well within the range of tweaking and the highly analytical critique used by most film critics which is something completely different in that film critiques get at weaknesses that are structural ,thematic or character driven that are usually too late to fix. That’s when the critic mentality is needed ahead of the film’s release. A perspective that seems to be sadly lacking in today’s film industry. If a film is a clear go from the audience screenings and also a clear go from the those that actually have a film critic mentality (within a studio or hired from without ) and it is slotted for release properly as well marketed correctly such an event as BvS would never happen nor would a studio be taken by surprise by surprise the failure of a John Carter,a Pan, or a Jupiter Ascending,

            BvS was not a flop,it did make money for WB but not as much as they hoped or expected and I think they were caught with their pants down regarding just how bad a film the critics would think it was. They may have had some inkling or they wouldn’t have barred reviews until after their opening weekend. But I don’t get the impression they were expecting them to completely trash the movie. There seems to be a big disconnect between how studios believe critics will receive their productions and how they are actually perceived.

            As far as pre- screenings go ,I’m not sure all movies go through two prescreening periods like LOT did because it’s hard to believe that Pan, The Man from Uncle, Jupiter Ascending etc. would have gone made it through as they were without some major fixes or given they could not be fixed then at least they could have cut the pr budget and reduced their expenses hence their losses.

            I guess I just believe that Hollywood should have a better grip on how to conduct their business.

          • It’s entirely possible that studios do bring, very very quietly, some critics in the post-production stage.
            But with the other movies you mention, they didn’t need them to tell them the movies weren’t going to work, they probably already knew from the initial screenings. Which is why JA and Pan were moved out of their original release dates to less ‘prime’ dates. And I’m sure that they had multiple screenings over months for all of them. And did for BvS. Sometimes the movie just isn’t going to work, studios know this.
            The critical reaction to BvS shouldn’t have surprised them, because while the audience liked it more than the critics, they didn’t like it unreservedly either.
            But this happens all.the.time. So for WB to remain in what seems a marketing funk is odd. And not a sign of good management.

          • I’ve been thinking about what you said and it makes sense. So much so that now I am wondering about this advertising funk once again. The advertising/pr program for LOT should have been planned and put in place along with a time line months ago, even as much as 6 months ago or more. Which would mean it’s ambling along at a preset pace and going as planned regardless of BvS or any positive pr for BFG predicting thow huge it will be and from any pr for IDR as well. They seem to be applying a similar ambling pace to their other upcoming films as well. So, either there is a knee jerk reaction to B v S which hastemporarily put breaks on the pre planned ad campaign , a difficult thing to do when other company’s/ TV shows and spots are envolved or it’s the result of poor management or they know something we don’t and have deliberately chosen this sleepy start to their campaign. It’s probably not the first option. Between the last two. I want to believe the last one. Only time will tell which it is so, I guess more patience is in order,

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