Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Test screening - Alex Cox's Sid and Nancy

The UK poster
Think carefully and reflect on the role of audience feedback in your work...

I've blogged previously on how BJD initially looked doomed at its key stateside preview, with Miramax's head honcho Harvey Weinstein sat in with a US audience utterly baffled by the film's opening, with its very UK-centric turkey curry references (only for Colin Firth's oh-so-hilarious reindeer jumper to set the place roaring and BJD on to franchise fortunes).

Here's an example of a test audience utterly loathing the Alex Cox (Indie auteur) movie they'd just seen - usually a kiss of death, killing off any hopes of a distribution deal, but not in this case...
[Sid and Nancy] had a preview in LA - one of those events where the invited audience fills out forms and answers a studio's questions. these were some of the responses from the preview audience:
I feel this film was totally evil.
Makes me uncomfortable but doesn't answer any questions. Where is the character growth?
A degrading, revolting film. There was nothing anyone could relate to. The characters were so inhuman.
The US poster
The script is deplorable. The look of the film syrprised me for its apparent amateurism. The choice of shots were [sic] totally boring - there were no dolly shots or anything even subtly soothing.
The Americans are depicted as ridiculous.
Despite the preview, the film got an American release from the Sam Goldwyn Company, an independent distributor of art pictures, based in west LA. The Americans went with the 'raining dustbins' image for their poster; the British distributor went with a brightly coloured, Jamie Reid-type graphic of Gary and Chloe. The posters reflect the way the film was viewed: quite differently in each country. In England, Sid and Nancy was a Sex Pistols artefact, while in the States - where punk had never had much of a foothold - the film was seen as a free-standing drama. (p. 108)
Quoted from Cox (2008) X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker. Soft Skull Press: Brooklyn.

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