Editor's Note: Ad Fidelity is a new movie review feature that compares the core elements of a movie's marketing campaign with the reality of what's on screen. The purpose is to show whether or not a movie lives up to the promises of its advertising and to shed light on a movie's potential long-term playability.
Disney/Dreamworks' marketing for the Fright Night remake has focused on a Disturbia-with-vampires plot and put an emphasis on scares over laughs, all while downplaying the fact that the movie is being released in 3D.
Marketing: After discovering that his creepy new neighbor (Colin Farrell) is actually a blood-thirsty vampire, Anton Yelchin takes matters in to his own hands to fight back. Reality: The marketing accurately portrays Fright Night's basic plot, which differs from Disturbia by establishing early on that Farrell's character is definitely a vampire. This allows the rest of the movie to focus on Yelchin's character trying to figure out how to deal with his neighbor problem, which results in some twists and turns through the second and third acts.
Marketing: While there is some self-aware humor scattered throughout the commercials, the trailer largely positions Fright Night as a dark, R-rated vampire movie. Reality: There's a fair amount of scares in the movie, along with generous amounts of vampire-induced blood-letting. However, the movie has at least an equal amount of humor, most of which comes from Christopher Mintz-Plasse's Ed and David Tennant's Peter Vincent. Tennant's character in particular is largely absent in the marketing but plays a significant role in the second half of the movie, injecting laughs in to all of his scenes.
Marketing: The movie is in 3D, though you wouldn't know it from watching the trailer or commercials. Reality: It makes sense that Disney has chosen to downplay 3D. While Fright Night was shot with 3D cameras, the majority of the movie takes place in the dark (vampires can't come out in the sun, get it?), which rarely translates well in 3D. Aside from a few obligatory objects and blood flying out of the screen, the 3D is ultimately more of a distraction than a value-add. It shouldn't be a big issue for the movie's long-term playability, though, considering it's unlikely that a large number of initial moviegoers will seek it out in the format anyway.
Box Office Implications:Fright Night provides more laughs and a more original story than what's displayed in the marketing and, therefore, should at least hold at an average rate for its genre.
Fright Night was screened at the Frank G. Wells Theater on Walt Disney Studios' lot in Burbank on Monday, Aug. 15. The movie scored plenty of laughs from the crowd, though upon exiting there weren't any overt signs of enthusiasm.