Working as a studio publicist is not an easy gig. There are plenty of times when you are asked to be an advocate for a product that you know just doesn't work, and when there are hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, the pressure to keep your smile fixed firmly in place is overwhelming.
Right now, it must look like Gotham City the day after the Joker dropped Smilex on everyone, because I can't imagine anyone at Paramount or at Skydance, the David Ellison-led production partner on the film, is feeling good about the reaction to this first big blast of publicity. They managed to set it up so that “Entertainment Weekly” would spend a few days rolling out images, probably imagining a wave of goodwill that would carry them right into Halloween weekend.
Today's missteps include a new selection of photos of the cast making angry faces and firing the most-fake fake guns I think I've ever seen. Matt Smith in particular appears to be holding a super soaker or a paintball gun of some sort. These photos do not convince me that Emila Clarke and Jason Clarke and Jai Courteney are battle-hardened badasses in the least, and they're so strangely staged and posed that it actually makes them all look silly.
There's a lot more to their story that they originally published yesterday, and they mention some things there that Paramount got very upset about me mentioning previously, including that scene that takes place between the 1984 Arnold Terminator in the Griffith Park scene and the current Schwarzenegger who shows up and changes the scene from the way we remember it.
There's one particular paragraph where they once again tiptoe around the film's “biggest” surprise, the one that I hinted at previously:
The filmmakers are counting on that technology, and the movie”s villain-a man/machine hybrid they”re keeping under wraps-to be visual game changers. “Part of the challenge is to dazzle people with something they haven”t seen before,” Taylor says. “There are elements in our main villain that are straining the capacities of our brilliant visual-effects people. So that”s a good sign.”
And no interview with Arnold would be complete without an uncomfortable sex joke, so keep your eye out for that. Even in the portrait gallery, they call Matt Smith “The Secret.” When you do that, you start people speculating and digging, and in this case, I'm not sure I believe they're going to be able to keep this secret now that they've set people hunting.
What really made me roll my eyes is the “exclusive storyboard gallery” they published today. It reveals so little that it doesn't even make sense to publish it. They're showing you images from the end of the Future War, once Skynet's been defeated, as they search for the time travel equipment that John Connor (Clarke) knows is there somewhere.
I feel bad for Alan Taylor, and for the writers. I know they're all working as hard as they can to try to make something genuinely good, and I don't question their intent. And maybe we'll turn around in July when the film is finished and find ourselves totally surprised by how good it is. But as first impressions go, this week has been a disaster, and I would bet we'll see a major reconsideration of how to release further images from the film.
“Terminator: Genisys” is in theaters July 1, 2015.