The Greatest Showman’s Misleading Trailers

‘The Greatest Showman’ is one of the most anticipated films of the festive period. A host of huge name stars is topped by Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams. Bill Condon has co-written the screenplay, following successful involvement in the films ‘Chicago’ and ‘Gods and Monsters’, getting an Oscar nomination for one and a win for the other. Seamus McGarvey is involved as cinematographer, a man whose successes are so great its hard to list.

One thing is distracting me when watching the trailers though. For all the brilliant theatrics, set pieces, costumes and star power, there appears to be no mention of the fact this is a musical. Well, that’s not strictly true. There’s a brief mention right at the end of each trailer to “music from Academy Award and Tony Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul”. Not much of a way to sing the praises of the central crux of the film.

My question is: why? In 2017 we’ve already had proven to us that cinema-goers love musicals. ‘La La Land’ achieved a global box office of $445,669,679 (as of 25th November 2017), based on a budget of $30m. Admittedly, this may be an exceptional and unexpected success, but it sets a precedent that there is certainly an appetite for a well-delivered musical.

It’s not as if this hasn’t bitten other films before. When Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd was released in 2008, cinema-goers in the UK were seen to walk out of screenings due to the misleading nature of the trailers. Complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority. It looked like a horror film but turned out not only to be a musical, but a faithful version of a Sondheim musical. Guess what? Sondheim famously makes his musicals extremely musical-y, with seemingly the entire film being delivered in song form.

It just feels incredible that a studio would make the same mistakes again. The craziest thing is that the music is absolutely brilliant and should be being trumpeted to help sell the film. The lead cast are all seasoned musical professionals – a huge improvement on the likes of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Jungle Book’, which featured the more experienced musical performers in minor roles.

You can listen to a couple of tracks below and make your mind up yourself.

I’m a great believer that audiences are intelligent enough to make their own decisions. We hate to be lured into an auditorium under false pretences.

I guess we’ll find out if there’s any backlash this Christmas.

An energetic tourist’s day in New York 

I’ve recently come back from a short break in New York and I can’t help but wish I’d gone much sooner in my life. 32 is far too late to visit this wonderful city!

On one of the days, I managed to pack in a huge amount of activities and walking into one day. To achieve this you will need to be moderately fit – I run half-marathons so my stamina is certainly up to it, whilst my wife regularly does assault course races and boot camps.

The result is approximately 10k of walking, taking in four of the cities most renowned landmarks.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

07:30 – Starting from our hotel on 77th and Broadway in uptown Manhattan, we set off for the 9/11 Memorial Museum and World Trade Centre via the 2 or 3 subway line. 

08:00 – Beforehand we got breakfast at the nearby Hudson Eats, an upscale eatery in Brookfield Place that will satisfy any palet and any amount of hunger. We allowed an hour for this so arrived at 8am.

09:00 – We pre-booked our ticket for the museum at 9am but this wasn’t totally necessary – it was quite easy to get in.

You just need to know that the museum is adjacent to ground zero of both the north and south trade centre. It isn’t overly obvious where it is but there are loads of helpful staff members to guide you in. 

It’s a truly important and essential piece of New York’s history and can’t be missed.
I’d leave about 3 hours to get around this place. You don’t want to rush it.

Liberty Island and Ellis Island

The afternoon was all about visiting Liberty Island and Ellis Island, including the world-famous Statue of Liberty.

12:00 – We set off from the museum on foot at midday, allowing ourselves 20 minutes to get over there.

There is a ferry operating from Battery Park, which allows you to get to Liberty Island and then venture on to Ellis Island whenever you’re ready.

The official website is at Statue Cruises. You want at least the “reserve” tickets, though buying sooner will guarantee entry to the pedestal (the base of the statue) or to the crown if you buy around three months in advance.

12:30 – The queuing situation there is pretty abysmal. It’s pandemonium and the people working there have no idea about how to be helpful. In contrast to the brilliant help we got at the 9/11 memorial, here we were told incorrectly to queue in two different lines before ignoring both pieces of advice and using our own logic to work out where we needed to go. 

Essentially, if you have pre-bought, go straight to the main queue that says “reserve” in big lettering.

13:00 – Once on the boat, head for the top deck on the right hand side near the front for the best views and photograph opportunities on the approach to the statue. The photo below is from the top left, so we got the best views too early in the journey.

13:30 – For an additional challenge at the statue, try walking or running up the staircase. You’ll probably feel a burn at the top but you’ll save queuing time.

The statue itself is pretty stunning. Take a moment to soak in the grandness of it. There are lots of people everywhere taking photos and this is important, but like all great monuments it’s easy to forget to look at and absorb it.

15:00 – After getting your photos, it’s time to leave for Ellis Island. This is essentially a museum about immigration, which is really informative and educational. However, we didn’t spend too long here – most of it can be learned about in books or online. Sorry guys! It’s nothing personal!!

16:00 – Take the ferry back, being sure to follow the signs for Battery Park, New York rather than Jersey.

Distance = 1287m distance with a 27m climb in the pedestal (+46m in the statue itself if you buy in time)

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset

One of the cliche activities in New York is so popular simply because the views you get are so beautiful, though you won’t see those until later in the evening.

16:30 – Setting off from Battery Park, set your target for Park Row at the North end of the Brooklyn Bridge. Once there, find the Brooklyn Bridge Walkway (signposted) and set off on your trip over the bridge. There’s no rush here. Indeed, rushing is nigh on impossible with such large crowds.

17:15 – At the other side of the bridge, waiting for you is probably the best pizzeria in New York, Juliana’s Pizza. It’s located at 19 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Trust me, after all that walking you’ll be glad of the sit down. We were able to split a large pizza in two by having completely different toppings, and the total price – with two alcoholic drinks and a sizeable whole apple pie for dessert – was still only $60 including tax and a tip.

19:30 (or later depending on time at restaurant) – Walking back along the Brooklyn Bridge is the time when you’re really rewarded. The whole of Manhattan is now completely lit up and you get in the best uninterrupted views of the main centre of the city. Bask in it and feel your enriched life thanking you for excellent life choices.

Evening walk = 1600m to Park Row, 2414m to Juliana’s Pizza, 2500m back across the bridge to your favoured subway station.

Total walking activities 

21:00 – By the end of the day we were both absolutely tired out and ready for bed. The sense of achievement and knowledge we’d maximised our time in the city whilst getting fitter through walking was wonderfully satisfying.

Total walking distance = 7801m plus exhibition walking plus a 27m or 73m climb inside the Statue of Liberty.

Why AMC allowing mobile phone usage is short-sighted 

The news of the AMC chain of multiplex cinemas in USA announcing plans to allow cinema-goers to text during films is probably the worst film-related news I’ve heard in a long time. AMC chief executive Adam Aron has shown himself to be completely out-of-touch with the paying cinema-goers to a level that is beyond my comprehension.

There are still many great reasons to go to the cinema. Watching the latest films on the best available format is an experience that continues to be unrivalled in the home cinema market. No matter how much you spend on your setup at home, you can’t replicate sitting down and watching at a huge 4K huge screening with Dolby surround sound in a perfectly dark cinema. Being transported into a different world with no distractions for a couple of hours is the whole point of going to the cinema.

Whilst it is an almost perfect experience for me, there are a number of things that have crept in in recent times that have marred my experience as a cinema-goer. The primary things I get infuriated about going to the cinema are as follows:

· People talking

· People eating overly-pungent or crunchy food

· People using their mobile phones

· The cinema management and employees doing nothing to prevent any of the above

I think most or all of the above issues are annoyances shared with all other cinephiles around the world. They are also wholly avoidable by having strict policies at the cinema.
The generalisation from Aron that he wants to allow texting to encourage millennials is a short-sighted statement that indicates he hasn’t actually been to the cinema recently. A 50-year-old man who has just left his office is just as likely to text as a 16-year-old out with their friends.

One generalisation I will make is that the kinds of people who text during films are the kinds of people who will also be happy to talk through films. Neither group really care about the film they’re supposed to be watching, they’re just going through the motions. Let’s face it, if you’re on your phone, you aren’t watching a film.

If Aron is happy to drive away a large amount of AMC’s market share with this tactic then that’s fine, as long as other cinemas don’t follow suit. Unfortunately, for cinema purists seeing this kind of attitude just encourages us to stay away.

The only solution is to have a blanket ban on texting and phone use during films. If anyone uses their phone, they should be ejected with no second chances. Doing this and guaranteeing the purity of a trip to the cinema will protect the current revenue in cinemas. If tickets are being charged at £8 or more for a standard ticket then a trip to the cinema is a luxury night out and this should be reflected on the experience.

Guaranteeing a good and hassle free experience will encourage the current customers to go back again after the slow decline due to this very issue.

Allowing mobile phone usage will just be another nail in the coffin for cinemas.