Paramount Pictures And Shandri-la Entertainment Llc
In response to unimpressive early trailers, "Beowulf's" was changed to look and sound like a video-game version of this year's hit "300."

If you weren't too impressed with the early trailers, TV spots and marketing campaigns for the films "Bee Movie," "Beowulf" and "Fred Claus," you're not the only one. None of these clipfests were particular exciting or inspiring.

And judging by the rather drastic changes in marketing strategies, the studios responsible for each of them agreed.

Newer spots for "Bee Movie" have downplayed its Jerry Seinfeld connection (he produced the movie, co-wrote it and voices the main character), instead playing up its slapstick elements.

"Beowulf" now looks and sounds like a video game version of this year's hit "300" (right down to some of the dialogue snippets).

And "Fred Claus" is now being marketed more as a dysfunctional brothers-and-families relationship comedy than the blatant "Santa Clause" rip-off it initially appeared to be.

Of course, as the upcoming drama "Lions for Lambs" teaches us, appearances can be deceiving. New commercials for the Robert Redford film play up the warfare elements rather than its truer talky, philosophical nature.

BARELY HAUNTING. Speaking of questionable marketing strategies, the studio and filmmakers apparently decided it wasn't in their best interest to pre-screen for critics the supernatural thriller "Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour."

Normally when such a thing happens it's because the film stinks, and the studio involved simply doesn't want it to get savaged by critics.

But it's a suicidal move for a lower-budget movie like "Sarah Landon." Without publicity, including reviews, hardly anyone knew the PG-rated film was even out there.

Now it's gone from most first-run theaters, having grossed less than $1 million in two weeks.

"Sarah Landon and the Supernatural Hour" was originally planned as the first in a series of movies, but unless the inevitable DVD release scares up some serious business, this would-be franchise is doomed.

GOOD NEWS. This week, the Tower Theatre (876 E. 900 South) is hosting IDA DocuWeek, a program consisting of six documentary features — "Chops," "Larry Flynt: The Right to be Left Alone," "Nanking," "The Price of Sugar," "A Promise to the Dead: The Exile of Ariel Dorfman" and "Protagonist."

The traveling exhibition from the International Documentary Association is intended to help qualify these films for Academy Award consideration, which would be impossible without some kind of theatrical run.

The Tower and its sponsoring organization, the Salt Lake Film Society, have had a strong recent documentary slate, having screened, among others, "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," "Kurt Cobain About a Son" and "Desert Bayou."

Show times and other information for the DocuWeek programming is available at both www.towertheatre.com and www.documentary.org.


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