The LA Times online, as you can see from my page grab, is happy to provide ad space for both “based on a true crime” murder movies. But if you missed it, the print version of the Sunday, August 27th LA Times came complete with a four page pullout ad masked as vintage news coverage of the Black Dahlia case. This is the tip of the iceberg for a Dahlia/Times cross promotion that includes a Times “microsite” complete with free access to the Times archive of stories related to the case, a “map” to key locations that appear in the film, and, of course, links to film clips and trailers (LA Observed ran a great summary of LA Times involvement)
It should be noted that while The Black Dahlia is being released by Univeral Studios, Hollywoodland is being distributed by Focus Features, which is a division of Universal Studios, so I wonder if the close proximity of the releases is less than a coincidence, and perhaps more an effort to make films about Hollywood’s seedy history more of a trend.
As mentioned previously, both films are being marketed as LA’s most infamous unsolved mysteries. However, two things bother me about recent TV ads for both. First, for Hollywoodland, the only people who consider George Reeves suicide unsolved are those who refuse to believe the official police report. The second is that the film for The Black Dahlia is promising to “uncover the untold story” of what happened to Elizabeth Short, when in fact the only thing its uncovering is James Ellroy’s fictional take on the story, which has taken grand liberties with what happened. Regardless of my frustration, I’ll be first in line for both films.
While The Black Dahlia has a solid, creative marketing effort behind its debut, largely positive reviews for Hollywoodland have already begun to appear, giving it a decent 64% “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and a positive, albeit depressing, nod by film geek Harry Knowles. Reviews for The Black Dahlia will probably begin appearing closer to its release.
Both films will be showing at the Arclight Cinemas, beginning with a midnite screening of Hollywoodland this Thursday in the Cinerama Dome – tickets available now!
More notes on The Black Dahlia later today…