Believe or Whatever

Before the Beliebers come out in force, let’s preface this – if you are going to hit your local multiplex to check out Jon M. Chu’s upcoming Justin Bieber’s Believe, not only do you already know it, the film is probably already at the very top of your list for end-of-year movie-going and you might have already pre-purchased your ticket for the first available showing. Put simply – if you’re going to see Justin Bieber’s Believe, you are a fan of Justin Bieber, and no amount of marketing will noticeably lessen or increase your interest in the film. Conversely, if you are not a fan of Justin Bieber, no amount of marketing will noticeably lessen or increase your interest in the film. You’re just not going to go. A few posters and trailers are not going to change that.

Music’s current crop of pop acts (and even some not-so-current, sorry, Jonas Brothers) has made big business of churning out concert docs that are one part actual concert footage, one part “documentary,” and three parts total hype. These are films that can make an upwards of $70m at the box office (Bieber and Chu’s previous concert doc, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, tops the chart with a respectable $73m box office take) based on fan interest alone. They don’t need posters. And that’s probably why most of these things are so terrifically ugly.

Back in August, I checked out the first public screening of One Direction: This Is Us at my local theater, knowing full well that it would be a lonely experience. (My observations of the experience were even published as “What It’s Like to See One Direction: This Is Us As a Lonely Non-Fan,” that’s how lonely it was.)

I am willing to bet that, of the other forty or so patrons in the theater with me, not one of them was there was a non-fan, as someone who needed to be enticed by a movie poster, as someone not already steeped in 1D culture. Even the moms and that solitary dragged-along little brother seemed into it. There was zero groaning in the theater (even from me). There was zero need for marketing beyond “here is this movie and this is when it is coming out.”

Most of the patrons even ignored the giant One Direction standee in the lobby, unless they were making fun of it.

Justin Bieber’s Believe opens on Christmas Day, if you’re into that sort of thing.


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