Hollywood crisis as summer hits dry up

Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation, which has its first UK screening tonight ahead of globally coordinated openings later in the week, is unlikely to be as convincing: many have even expressed scepticism about whether the off-screen romance between its star, Tom Cruise, and British actress Katie Holmes is anything more than a cynical PR confection. But The War of the Worlds desperately needs to convince cinema-goers that this is the real thing.

The marketing strategy for this film, though, has been unusual. There have been few advance screening for reviewers, with some publications (including the New York Times) refused admission and other critics required to sign an embargo agreement holding back their notices until close to the film’s official opening. While Cruise has appeared on numerous talk shows, he has said little about the film, preferring to discuss Katie Holmes or, as on NBC’s Today show, the over-prescription of the anti-hyperactivity drug Ritalin.
Such departures from the traditional film business strategy, in which a phased release of media pieces and trailers attempt to create “advance word” or “buzz”, have usually been used by studios which know they have a stinker on their hands.
Guardian Unlimited Film | Features | Mark Lawson: War of words to push Spielberg’s latest