So the Fourth of July is coming up, and that means a super blockbuster is going to be released, and this year that super blockbuster is...Hancock? I can't imagine a July 4 blockbuster in recent years that had less buzz going for it than Hancock. Sure, the ads are everywhere, but is anyone excited about it? Does anyone actually want to see it?
I became intrigued by Hancock when I caught the end of a preview a month ago -- I had never heard of it, and by the title couldn't tell what it was about. I looked up its wonderfully informative Wikipedia page and found that it actually had an interesting story going for it, and that it was based on a script written in 1996. It was originally titled Tonight, He Comes and at one point Michael Mann was considering directing it before settling on Miami Vice. So over a decade after Vincent Ngo wrote his script, the movie is being released with a few notable changes:
- The name was dumb-downed to John Hancock, which was again dumb-downed despite the objections of marketing consultants, who felt it was too vague.
- The original story of linking the fallen Hancock with a troubled 12-year-old was changed to an alcoholic superhero who needs his image rehabilitated.
- To avoid an R-rating, elements of statutory rape were removed from the movie.
It doesn't help that we have no reason to care about this superhero's downfall. Who is he? What are his powers? Why doesn't he wear a costume. This is the trouble with trying to sell an original superhero in a movie, and it's exacerbated by the fact that cooler, more established superheroes are still fresh in audiences minds with Iron Man and Hulk. Which brings us to the name: Hancock? This tells me nothing about the movie, and even less about the title character. The vague-ness is reflected in the movie's one-sheet: Will Smith's face ... OK, anything else you can give me? Sony could have at least attempted a play on traditional comic book movie one-sheets, which would helped people identify just what this goddamn movie is about, since the title is of no assistance. Even the tag line is a mess: "There are heroes, there are superheroes, and then there's ..." This could easily be taken to mean that Hancock is better than superheroes, because the one-sheet and title tell us nothing either way.
The title, story and one-sheet tell me that Sony believes Will Smith + Summer = $$. Does all of the above matter a bit since Will Smith is in it? We'll see, I just know I'm not going to see it, and that Wall-E will be in its second week of release when Hancock is released. Is it possible it won't even debut at No. 1?