Fox kicks off unusual campaign for Ang Lee’s ‘Life Of Pi’ in 3D

One of the things I’ve seen people commenting on after catching “Prometheus” theatrically last night and this morning is the unusual promotional clip for “Life Of Pi” that 20th Century Fox has attached to all 3D prints of the film.

More than anything, what I’m reading is confusion.  I haven’t seen how the clips are formatted, but evidently it’s just a scene from the film, played without any real introduction.  It’s an unusual tactic for the studio to pursue, but “Life Of Pi” is the sort of film that’s going to require Fox to try some unorthodox measures to convince audiences that they’ve got something special planned for them.

According to quotes from Tom Rothman in the New York Times, the decision to handle the clips this way resulted from the response they got when they screened footage for exhibitors during CinemaCon this spring.  The response there was certainly positive, and it even led to some Oscar talk among those who love to kick off the awards season about nine months too early.

I’m still skeptical of this one overall because of the source material.  While beautifully written, “Life Of Pi” is all about perception, and there’s a game being played on the reader the entire time that left me deeply dissatisfied at the end of the read.  I understand why people love the book, but I equally understand why it made other readers angry.  My own reaction was somewhere in the middle.  I think it’s a great read, but I also think it’s a literary trick, and doing it as a film and making everything in the book literal is going to be a very different experience.  We’ll see what audiences make of it later this year.

For now, though, I commend Fox for trying new ways to advertise their films.  There are a number of movies coming out this year that are going to require special handling from the studios, and I’m curious to see how they meet these challenges.  “Cloud Atlas” from Warner Bros. is another one that will require some very canny marketing, and it’s always good when a studio has a film they love that requires them to try something new.

The first of the “Life Of Pi” excerpts is in theaters this weekend with “Prometheus,” and there should be another one attached to “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” and one final one in front of “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift.”  If you’ve seen the first one, let me know what you thought of it.

“Life Of Pi” opens November 21, 2012.