Shazam? Ah, No, Never Mind

[Setting: A Hollywood conference room.]

Suit #1: “Gentlemen, we have a problem. Our new movie is setting up to be a disaster. Test audiences hate it. They’re saying it makes no sense and that the lead actress has two modes, boring and bitchface. The editors say there isn’t enough good there to salvage. We’ve been promoting it hard, and now word is leaking out that it’s bad. How can we save our asses?”

Suit #2: “We could amp up the marketing campaign. Get some of our media allies to run positive reviews we provide and do some special interviews.”

Suit #1: “We’re already doing all that, and it’s not working. The fans just don’t care. Interviews with the star don’t help at all, because no one likes her except the producers who cast her.”

Suit #3: “We could bring in Joss Whedon and Ron Howard to punch up the script and reshoot half the movie.”

Suit #1: “God, no! Audiences have caught on to that. They know that’s a sure sign of a stinker. That would be throwing good money after bad. We need a fix that doesn’t bust the budget.”

Suit #2: “Well, we could get out ahead of it with a negative campaign against the genre fans. You know the drill: bash the basement-dwelling man-children for not wanting to see the movie. Tell women they have to see it to prove something-something about equality, and shame men into seeing it so they won’t be associated with the nerd virgins. Throw in something about racists and Russian trolls, and you’re golden.”

Suit #3: “Can that scam work again? Surely audiences are catching onto it by now.”

Suit #2: “It hasn’t failed yet. It couldn’t turn Ghostbusters into a hit, but it sold enough tickets more that it didn’t kill Sony outright. If nothing else, it creates buzz and curiosity, so some people will go just to see what the fuss is about. And it’s basically free marketing, because the media loves beating up on the male fan base of these franchises.”

Suit #1: “Good point. Okay, spread some articles in the industry press about how the angry male fanboys are attacking the movie already. Have our friends in the mainstream press pick it up from there. Have what’s-her-name talk about it in interviews. She hates the fans anyway. She’ll piss them off so they start bashing the movie for real, and then the media can blow it up into a major crisis. We’ll save our huge bonuses yet!”