If you haven’t yet seen the much-hyped premiere of the trailer of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis’ new movie “Black Swan,” expect to hear about it soon. Starring Portman as a ballet dancer and Kunis as her new dancing rival, the Darren Aronofsky-directed film promises to be as intense and heartbreakingly original as his previous efforts like “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Wrestler.” But what is the movie, exactly? The trailer offers tantalizing glimpses, but, like all the most frustrating and intriguing movie previews, no real answers.
Watching it for the first time, you could conclude that the movie is part fantasy or surrealist picture, or you could assume it was an-almost straight “she wants my life and is trying to kill me”-type thriller. You can even reasonably go a third route and assume that this movie exists entirely within the realm of Portman’s character’s mind. The fact that the trailer doesn’t show you exactly which way the movie is going to go, coupled with the brief glimpse of Portman and Kunis engaging in a kiss, has online watchers buzzing for any number of reasons.
Movie preview buzz usually pans out into two basic directions once the movie is released in theaters: either the public decides they like the movie and it does big business past that first opening weekend, or the public sees the movie and decides that the preview was the best thing about it and it tanks after that first weekend. Either way, huge amounts of buzz across media outlets does appear to give those movies a good initial boost, whether or not it lasts is always in question.
Anticipation was running almost rabid for “The Last Airbender,” released this summer by M. Night Shayamalan. The film was heavily hyped by toy store tie-ins and a preview that started playing in front of last summer’s movies, and continued all the way up to the release date. While this provided a good first weekend boost, incredibly poor word-of-mouth and Internet bashing combined forces to ensure that the movie, which, according to IMDB.com, cost $150 million to make, hasn’t made its money back yet.
The sleeper hit “Paranormal Activity,” released last year, went in that other direction of hyped-up movies: blockbuster mode. Costing almost nothing to make, RottenTomatoes.com reports that the film made $108 million, largely on the strength of its heavily hyped, haunting trailer and the resulting buzz.
In this age of almost-instant word-of-mouth and Internet movie reviews, the public as always has the final say as to whether the hype surrounding the “Black Swan” will make the movie a blockbuster or a bust. Either way, it is sure to get some payback for all the chatter swirling around it thanks to its intriguing trailer.
Rotten Tomatoes, “Paranormal Activity (2007)”
IMDB, “The Last Airbender”