If there are actors and actresses out there who wonder how to sell a movie to the public — they should be taking notes on the publicity rounds George Clooney and Matt Damon have been making in recent weeks to promote their upcoming film, “Suburbicon.”
The two filmmakers are practically writing a play-by-play book for exactly how not to sell a movie. Both have gone political in interviews and railed against President Donald Trump and those who voted for him. Their comments about “Suburbicon” have also suggested the film is little more than an anti-Trump public service announcement.
"We made the movie last year, and it's incredible to see what's happened in Charlottesville, [Virginia]. It's horrible," Damon told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. "A lot of people, myself included, are really waking up to the extent of the existing racism, and it's so much worse than I naïvely thought. I just feel naïve at this point."
The actor went on to call Trump's response to Charlottesville "absolutely abhorrent."
"Then the night that the president [made his] 'many sides' comment was absolutely abhorrent," he said. "Sadly, I feel the movie was made at the right time."
"Sadly, I feel the movie was made at the right time."
George Clooney, who directed the upcoming film, has gone a little further in his comments while promoting "Suburbicon."
"I like picking fights. I like that Breitbart News wants to have my head. I'd be ashamed 10 years from now if those weaselly little putzes, whose voices are getting a lot higher every week as this presidency starts to look worse and worse, weren't still [after me]," Clooney told reporters at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Clooney also went after Steve Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News and former White House chief strategist, in his tirade. Clooney said pointedly, "Steve Bannon is a failed f***ing screenwriter, and if you've ever read [his] screenplay, it's unbelievable ... Now, if he'd somehow managed miraculously to get that thing produced, he'd still be in Hollywood, still making movies and licking my a** to get me to do one of his stupid-a** screenplays."
How very elitist of you, Mr. Clooney.
Bannon has made 16 feature films and helped produce movies for such filmmakers as Sean Penn.
If all of that weren't enough, Clooney later doubled down on his attacks on Bannon in an interview with The Daily Beast. "Here's the truth: If Steve Bannon had Hollywood say, 'Oh, this is really great, and a really good script,' and had they made his movie, he'd still be in Hollywood writing his f***in' movies and kissing my a** to be in one of his f***in' films!" he said. "That's who he is. That's the reality."
At a time that movie-theater attendance is at a 25-year low  and attitudes toward Hollywood are growing more and more aggressive, the best strategy for getting people to see one's movie is not to go on curse-filled rants about those with whom you politically disagree.
"Suburbicon" will flop when it hits theaters on October 27 — and not because it's already getting mediocre reviews. It will flop because when people see comments from celebrities like Clooney that insult them and their values, they will avoid with a passion everything he makes.
Clooney can say whatever he wants — his work is only going to suffer.
Perhaps Clooney should take notes from his frequent collaborators, the Coen brothers — the directors wrote the original screenplay for "Suburbicon." You'd be hard-pressed to find any interviews of theirs in which they insult half the country and talk about political enemies sucking up to them in some alternate universe.
The filmmakers behind such hits as "The Big Lebowski" and "True Grit" have movies that appeal across the board. Their art reaches and affects more people because they let it speak for itself.
Clooney can say whatever he wants — but his work is only going to suffer because of his focus on political divisiveness and derision toward those with whom he does not see eye to eye.
(photo credit, homepage image: Nicolas Genin, Flickr)