While we are still living in Penguin-land (and loving it at the box office by the way with the 17th highest gross in the country last weekend), I am looking forward to the next film in our lineup MURDERBALL. MTV.com is featuring a series of photos, exclusive video clips, and a Murderball Blog in an effort to attract it’s young audience to the theater. The question is who really is the audience for this film and will they go see it?
I recently got this input from an advisory board member whose marketing instinct I trust implicitly, “I saw Murderball in NY this weekend and it was great! Don’t try to sell it as an “empowering” or “hopeful” or any of those words they use to describe documentaries about disabled people — Murderball is about BONE CRUSHING, METAL SCRAPING ACTION!” Yes, by the way, I do see the irony in the term “bone crushing” and no, this person did not mean it in an offensive way…please hold your emails.
But then I was interested to read the following in Eugene’s blog, “As someone told me last night at a wedding, they were turned off by the film’s poster and title, which portrayed the movie as an action/sports pic. “Is the movie about people in wheelchairs trying to kill each other?” the person asked me yesterday.”
Either way, Eugene is right, “the inspiring side of MURDERBALL doesn’t seem to be getting across.” But why? Haven’t there been other sports films that featured fierce rivalry, stopwatch suspense, and larger-than-life-personalities (to use ThinkFilm’s terminology) that were also inspirational? Why is this one so different? Do the wheelchairs really make any significant change to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat?
This film made me feel the way watching the Olympics or the IronMan Triathlon or the Eco-Challenge Adventure Race (all of which I am a freak for) make me feel. Anxious, excited, touched, sad, happy, and yes inspired…the point is that none of it is about any of these things. It is about ALL of them. The entire human condition. Not winning, but entering the race in the first place…AND kicking ass.
Now do you want to see it?