Today, I explain the seemingly simple, but apparently difficult to do, concept of allowing your movie musical to be promoted with music from the movie musical.
This is the Cronin Theory of Pop Culture, a collection of positions I’ve collected over the years that I think hold pretty true.
A while back, I did one of these on the topic of, hey, maybe don’t adapt a property if you seem to hate the property that you’re adapting, and I think that we’re seeing a bit of a similar approach when it comes to the promotion of movie musicals.
The trailer has only one song in it, and it’s an Olivia Rodrigo song that’s not actually in the musical!
Can you even imagine that? You’re promoting your movie musical, and the only song you use is from a pop artist that is not in the movie?! Why would you do that?
And yet, that sort of thing is shockingly common when it comes to the advertisement of movie musicals. Take the upcoming Wonka movie musical. Again, not a single song in the trailer!
My pal Garth also noted that the upcoming The Color Purple movie musical (The Color Purple had even one more step than Mean Girls, as there was first The Color Purple the novel, then The Color Purple the movie and then The Color Purple Broadway musical before this new movie musical adaptation of the Broadway musical) mostly hides that it is a musical (since a character literally sings in the plot of the film, it’s easy to do)…
Other examples that aren’t AS dramatic include the recent movie adaptation of West Side Story, which has some of the most famous songs in the history of musicals, and yet there’s only one song from the movie in the trailer…
Similarly, 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, one of Stephen Sondheim’s best musicals, also only barely featured a snippet of a single song in its trailer!
Reader Scott also noted that Sondheim had that issue again in the 2014 Into the Woods trailer, which showed NO songs at ALL in it…
Garth also noted that the recent Tick…Tick…Boom! trailer also fairly well disguised that it was a musical (there IS a song, but it shows the character singing it from a piano, thus disguising that the whole movie is an outright musical)….
Why are you even DOING movie musicals if you’re that ashamed of them being musicals when it comes to advertising them? If you think it makes sense to do a movie musical, shouldn’t you actually use the music to hype up the film? Imagine talking about Grease, but wanting to hide the music! The music is the HOOK. It just doesn’t make any sense.
So movie folks, please allow your movie musical trailers to actually spotlight the music from the movie musical.