Hollywood passes on The Big Game

Movie promos are scarce at the Super Bowl but a hell of an ad for Mercedes-Benz takes top spot

Movie promos are scarce at the Super Bowl but a hell of an ad for Mercedes-Benz takes top spot

A colleague Tweeted during the final quarter of Super Bowl XLVII: “Looks like the film industry can’t afford the airtime.” And to be entirely honest: I think he was on to something.

Whatever the reason, there were conspicuously fewer movie ads than usual during Sunday’s big game. Indeed, by my count, there were scarcely a half-dozen promo spots for upcoming popcorn flicks and summer blockbusters. And you get that many only if you also include ads that ran during the pre-game hype.

In years past, Hollywood has relied heavily – and, sometimes, quite successfully — on the Super Bowl as a launching pad for high-profile features. This year? Not so much.

And no, before you ask: I don't think the power outage had anything to do with it.

Here’s an overview of the limited lineup, with ads listed in the order of their appearance:

The Lone Ranger

OK, I’ll fess up: When I first heard that Johnny Depp would be playing Tonto in a reboot of the classic western saga with Pirates of Caribbean director Gore Verbinski at the helm, I was… dubious. But I’ll be damned if the early teaser spots didn’t look surprisingly promising.

And the extended ad that ran during the Super Bowl pre-game show was pretty damn spectacular. (An earlier mashup, also shown before kickoff, juxtaposed Lone Ranger movie clips and footage of Super Bowl players – “Sometimes you’ve only got one shot to prove yourself!” – to amusing effect.)

I still have my doubts about Arnie Hammer as the guy with the black mask and the silver bullets – he sounds a bit stiff in all the commercials we’ve seen so far – but I strongly suspect we’re not going to see another Klinton Spilsbury here.

World War Z

Nothing too impressive about this preview of yet another apocalyptic thriller about undead predators. Even Brad Pitt doesn’t add anything fresh to the mix. And as for that attempt at an attention-grabbing “money shot” to seal the deal: Sorry, guys, but I’ve already seen variations of that “zombie hordes scaling wall” business in The Dead – the 2010 shocker set in West Africa, not John Huston’s film version of the James Joyce story —  and at least two Resident Evil movies.

See the World War Z Super Bowl ad here.

The Great and Powerful Oz

James Franco as The Wiz in a prequel to The Wizard of Oz? Maybe that’s the game plan. But it looks more like the Disney marketers want us to view this one as a follow-up to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. And, really, considering the worldwide gross of that one – over $1 billion – who can blame them?

See the Super Bowl Oz ad here.

Fast & Furious 6

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are back, Dwayne Johnson (who joined the franchise two years ago in Fast Five) is once again along for the ride – and Michelle Rodriguez has returned from the dead. (She seems to do that a lot. Did you see the last Resident Evil flick?) You want more than that? OK, how about a spectacular plane crash — and a freakin’ tank! — to go along with the usual high-speed “vehicular warfare” dash and crash? Hey, I’m sold.

See the Super Bowl Fast & Furious ad here.

Star Trek Into Darkness

So just who is this arrogant dude who claims to be “better… at everything” while getting pissy with Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine)? Beats me. In fact, all the sound and fury in this spot signifies… I haven’t the slightest idea. It’s one thing to be cryptic and/or ambiguous in a Super Bowl teaser. It’s quite another to be chaotic and/or incoherent.

Iron Man 3

Wait a minute: They actually bought a Super Bowl spot to promote something on their Facebook page? Really? Really?!?! Excuse me, but where’s Chuck Barris? I need to gong something.

See the Iron Man 3 Super Bowl ad here.

One could argue that the very best Super Bowl spot with a movie connection this year wasn’t an ad for a movie. What is was, in fact, was a Mercedes-Benz commercial starring film actor Willem Dafoe as… as… well, could it be… Satan

The Lone Ranger Remake Johnny Depp
The Lone Ranger remake stars Johnny Depp at Tonto and Arnie Hammer as the title character