The Weinstein Company Tampered With ‘The Road’ Trailer

Published 6 years ago by , Updated September 12th, 2013 at 1:52 pm,

the road still 2 The Weinstein Company Tampered With The Road Trailer

EXCLUSIVE! A little over a week ago Screen Rant posted the first trailer for The Road, the cinematic adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. As a serious McCarthy fan, I was a very disappointed in how the trailer (I felt) misrepresented what The Road is all about; it tried to sell the film as a post-apocalyptic action thriller, instead of the poignant look at the bond between father and son it truly is.

Well my complaints struck pay dirt: A reliable source confirms that the studio producing the film (The Weinstein Company) pulled out some dirty PR tricks to sell The Road to a wide audience – even going so far as to tamper with the first trailer, splicing in stock disaster footage that doesn’t even appear in the finished movie!

If you haven’t yet watched the first trailer for The Road you need to do so now.

The “spliced footage” I’m referring to appears at the very start of the trailer – it’s the news footage of floods, fires, tornadoes, riots, etc., which appear in conjunction with the tagline, “Ten Years From Now One Event Will Change The Face Of The Planet.” Yeah, apparently none of that footage is in the film and the characters aren’t even watching it on TV. It’s all just clever editing.

If you’ve never read a page of The Road, you probably see the beginning of that trailer and think “End of the world action thriller. Cool.” If you indeed had that reaction, consider yourself officially misled.

Here’s a dose of the truth: The film version of The Road adheres pretty closely to the novel (with a few choice liberties taken here and there). In the novel, there is never any explanation of what event(s) turned America into a desolate wasteland. When the story begins, The Man (Viggo Mortensen) and The Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are simply walking on the road across the annihilated landscape and that’s as much background as we get. There is no preachy message about the environment or nuclear war or human relations – no subversive political or religious metaphor. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic hell mainly because that setting is the most extreme contrast to the guarded and filtered reality in which most parents try and raise their kids.

Of course I understand that for a lot moviegoers (especially those who love the post-apocalyptic genre), the notion of a desolate world that’s never explained could be kind of a turn-off. But splicing random stock footage into the trailer, trying to sell a story that the film doesn’t tell? What’s the point in that? Why not just show what the film is truly about and let it reach people on its own merit? Especially since the finished film (according to our reliable source) “is brilliant!!”

the road behind the scenes 3 The Weinstein Company Tampered With The Road Trailer

I would have loved for the trailer to highlight the things that made the book such a stunning achievement: The gorgeous imagery, the beautiful and intimate father-son moments shared between The Man and The Boy – even some of the more gruesome and frightening scenes of the book (see our gallery of cannibalized extras from The Road for an example).

From what I hear, this spin-job first trailer and the stock footage spliced in are the Weinsteins’ doing. Well, I’d like to pass on a message to the Weinsteins, if I may be so bold: Cut another trailer, a REAL trailer, and get it out ASAP. Hell, if you do that and actually do it right, I’ll be the first one to post it up and praise it. Remember Harv: if you want that Oscar (you delayed this film a year just to have a better shot at one) then you’ve got to show us up front that The Road is a contender. A cheesy disaster flick trailer doesn’t do that.

Luring audiences into a movie theater thinking they’re going to see one thing and showing them something entirely different just results in an annoyed audience. Even if a movie is excellent, you shouldn’t “trick” people into watching it.

What do you think about this news that the Weinsteins messed with the first trailer of The Road? Are you a pissed-off Cormac McCarthy fan? Or were you cool with the post-apocalyptic thriller you were sold?

Speaking of Cormac McCarthy: If you’re out there, Mr. McCarthy, we’d love for you to weigh in on all this. It is your work, after all.

The Road is slated to hit theaters on October 16, 2009.

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  1. Reminds me of what Fox did with the marketing and trailer for Fight Club and that backfired on them with a mediocre performance at the box office but did well on DVD so I wouldnt be surprised if the same thing happens here as well

  2. Marketing people have ruined more than one film debut, though I can’t fault them all the time because the film they have to work with usually isn’t a fair representation of the literature (see Battlefield Earth). Kudos to the Weinsteins for following the vision of the writer. I’ll look forward to its release.

  3. Remember Jim Carrey’s first dramatic role, The Truman Show? The first trailer made it out to be a comedy and there was an uproar.

    Too bad that TWC couldn’t trust that the film would do well without the stock footage. I read the book and you get hints of what happened, but it’s just a sad tale.


  4. I don’t think it was intentinoal but Adventureland was marketed as some sort of non-stop laughfest which it clearly wasn’t meant to be.

  5. remindes me of what they did in batman the dark knight. They show batmans symbol that is on fire on the side of a tall building. They showed this on both trailers and posters yet it never apeared in movie

  6. The Esquire article from a month ago confirmed this all well… a month ago. He saw the trailer with his own eyes, said as much.

  7. Dude, of course they want an Oscar, but they want to make money on the film too. I’m as big a McCarthy fan as they come, but frankly, I don’t care if the trailers make it out to be a romantic comedy, because the trailers are only created to market the movie (after it has been made) and have no bearing on the quality of the film. When I first saw the trailer, it was obvious that they were spicing footage.

    Are you really that ignorant about the trailer/film relationship that you get so worked up about a marketing scheme? Are you really placing demands that the Weinsteins offer another trailer to your liking or else? Maybe you should wait to see the movie before freaking out.

  8. @Keef,

    What if the false trailer brings people into the movie and they’re upset that it’s nothing like they thought, that their bad word-of-mouth will probably hurt the movie and its potential box office? I think that’s Kofi’s point.


  9. @Keef

    Riiiight. So a trailer SHOULD misrepresent the movie it’s advertising just to get butts in seats? Awesome, why not show friggin’ giant robots in the trailer for this film? Whatever works is just “marketing” right?


  10. @Heath Mcknight. As if studios haven’t done this since the beginning of time. They also don’t care that much once asses are in seats.

    If 10,000 more ppl go see the movie because they thought it was going to be an actioner, who cares, tix were sold. Bad word of mouth? It’s an arty, post-apocalyptic film, so at this point it’s the more the merrier. If sci-fans are eventually turned off, so what, asses were in seats, tickets are collected and that any fanboys disappointed does not hurt its Oscar chances.

  11. @Keef

    Yes. That’s exactly how I feel. Can’t you tell from my use of periods. I’m foaming at the mouth I’m so angry.

    Do your research, go back and look at what happened with Adventureland and Watchmen. Bait-and-switch marketing HURT those films. It’s a fact. As a McCarthy fan is that what you want to see happen? Another All The Pretty Horses???

    If you are about to serve Fillet Mignon, why tell the customer “Hey we have a great hot dog for you!” just because more people eat hot dogs than Mignon?

    Why are you so intent on DEFENDING DECEPTION?

  12. how can you quantify how bait n’ switch hurt those films? Adventureland was never gonna do gangbusters. It’s a tiny film.

  13. @Keef

    And my whole point, in case your not a careful reader, was that THE FILM IS GOOD.

    So again, why dumb down and/or misrepresent a GOOD FILM??? So people who don’t like quality cinema will come see it? Do you also invite crazy street vagrants to dine in nice restaurants with you?

  14. @ The playlist

    Remember a “tiny film” called Juno that won Oscars and made gangbusters money based on strong word of mouth?

    How about a “tiny film” called Napolean Dynamite?

    Could you imagine if Juno was marketed as a rom-com between two awkward teenagers and the whole pregnancy thing was ignored b/c it would “turn people away?”

    Oh wait, that did happen… which is why it took many months and a lot of word of mouth for the film to be recognized for its quality.

  15. The problem I have with this article is the degree to which it insinuates how much effect that this trailer has on Oscar nominations and awards, as well as the extent to which the stock footage changed the feel of the film.

    To be honest, that 5 seconds of stock footage does little other than set the setting. I don’t think it gives that feel of a ‘cheesy post apocalyptic thriller’ at all. Even if it did, the rest of the trailer didn’t dissuade you? That at least should show you what you’re in for. You’re blowing it way out of proportion. These 5 seconds won’t have the impact you’re saying it will.

    ‘The Road’s box office numbers won’t be dependent on this trailer. It’ll be dependent on the millions that read the book and the many weeks it was on the NYT bestseller list.

  16. Will,

    You don’t think you’re underestimating the effect of a good/bad trailer?

    B/C we can do a post about that very subject if need be. I will break down some point by points of where trailers have made a CLEAR difference in the perception and ultimately profits of a movie.

  17. I never read “The Road.” I loved the trailer. I didn’t like the news footage at the beginning. That’s a good thing it was splice in there.

    I still want to see it.

    It’s not unusual to have a movie trailer pitch something totally opposite of the film. Example: “Observe and Report”, Adventureland”.

    I understand that stock footage were not used in those trailers. You get what I am saying.

    That tactic did not help the movies at the box office.

  18. “Luring audiences into a movie theater thinking they’re going to see one thing and showing them something entirely different just results in an annoyed audience. ”

    The Road trailer does not misrepresent the movie. It presents no “preachy” messages, or misleading pyrotechnics. And audiences will not see something ENTIRELY different from what is shown in the trailer. Rather, the adrenalized tension of the greater portion of the trailer represents PARTS of McCarthy’s tale. Important parts of The Road are EXACTLY post-apocalyptic action thrills. For some viewers, these will be the most compelling parts in the film. For others, the calmer Man/Son moments will be more affecting (though the cannibal action will still be important.)

    Many trailers contain footage that doesn’t appear in the movie. The “false” footage in this one is less than one-fifth of the trailer. The whole of the remaining “real” footage shows that this story takes AFTER that “one event” that changes the world.

    No significant portion of people who see The Road are going to be crying “What?! The only reason I bought a ticket to this movie was to see a few minutes of disaster newsreel. I feel so deceived!”

    The primary objective of ALL movie traliers is to attract an audience to generate a profit. It has NEVER been to tell the truth. Pointing this out is not “defending deception.” It’s just reminding you that there is a difference between what “should” be, and what “is.” If you truly oppose dishonesty coming out of Hollywood, you need to re-evaluate where your pressure is most needed/ most effective. Don’t continue down this particular road- it’s a mis-use of your valuable efforts.

  19. The book is a classic (check it out Branden) I even shared it with all of my family, friends and my 12 yr old son. I believe that all of us realize the hollywood machine will take any measures to get butts in seats. I only hope that the final product will reflect McCarthy’s vision with the repect it deserves. Regardless, all of our butts will be in the seats.

  20. @ M. Johnson

    Go back and pay attention to what exactly is in that news footage. Environmental disaster. Violence. Natural disaster. Those aren’t random cuts they’re doing. It’s specific footage.

    IMO they’re trying to create a whole “End Times” feeling in that trailer, trying to shift focus onto WHAT happened to the world when McCarthy’s book goes to great lengths to disregard that very issue.

    And, like the book, the film will likely ignore that issue for the most part. But the trailer is scenes of disaster spliced with footage of Charlize Theron saying “What’s happening?” But that scene isn’t even taking place by a TV!

    By showing the disasters and having the whole “What’s happening?” thing going on, the filmmakers are setting up a mystery that is never going to be solved or largely addressed in the film. That could piss A LOT of people off.

  21. And the “Cannibal action” moments in the book are only thrilling b/c you care so much about The Boy and The Man’s need to protect him and be a good father. Fifty pages of text are spent to make those five pages of action payoff.

    How do you think an audience expecting constant action is going to react to that kind of cinematic pace?

  22. I have been anxiously waiting for this trailer for going on a year now and I was disappointed. It is very obvious that the book, while a huge bestseller, was something that you either loved or hated. They didn’t have that luxury with the movie, so we end up with pasted on stock disaster footage that looks like the B roll from an Al Gore powerpoint presentation. This I feel is an effort to dumb it down for the masses that need everything explained for them. Hey, its the end of the world as we know it, how it happened is kind of a moot point and one the author ingeniously leaves out of the book. Let me say that I have read the book 3 times and am sure I will read it again. It is a poetic and moving read that has changed my outlook on the world we all live in today. Its important. At its kernel is the Man and Boy, but more importantly, whether mankind has a future or not. Will the movie itself, never mind the trailer, live up to the lofty territory the book inhabits, I doubt it, but I will for sure give it a chance.

  23. I disagree with you with the “luring” part, as far as the audience being disapointed once watching it. We all know for a fact people are stupid. Sorry it is a plain and simple fact. So for them to get a trailer out there that gives “some” kind of background will make people come to see it. And maybe if the trailer stayed true to the story(god I love the book!) then hardly anyone will see it. Maybe the trailer is a ploy sure, but to get people in to see a story that has meaning and something different from what they are expecting. I am ok with that, because maybe this movie will make the “Action Thriller” type “think” or soften a bit in the heart. If you really want to talk about staying true to the movie, don’t you think “they” should have showed less of the wife? She has a very small part, and in the movie it looks as though she will have more than her few minutes we know her as in the book. Just my thoughts of course.

  24. Thanks for this news. You made my night. I was extremely disappointed with the trailer, so this comes as very welcome news indeed.

  25. Ugh! I was so dissapointed in the trailer I found this blog by googling ‘the road trailer stupid’. I sincerely hope your words don’t fall on deaf ears. The book moved me so much the formulaic disaster trailer feels sacrilegious!

  26. Cormac McCarthy is the greatest modern writer I’ve ever read. His prose is so beautiful it’s nearly poetry, and this book is truly great.
    I wouldn’t mind seeing the movie they showed. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a movie based on the Road.

  27. As I read through these comments (which are really good and I wish would just go on and on) my opinion gets swayed, first one way then the other. The arguements are good. In the end I must say that the trailer ought to be true to the film. I believe the boy tells his Papa that small lies lead to big lies.

    I must also say that no other book has moved me as deeply as this one has. I don’t know if I will see the flim because I know that seeing it will forever change my experience of this story and I’m not sure I want that. Perhaps staying with the book alone is best.

  28. It’s interesting that what was most misleading to me was left out of the above discussion – the music. I haven’t seen the film, but based on Ellis and Cave’s previous scores, you can be pretty sure it’s not going to sounds anything like that. This standard action/thriller trailer music goes a long way in selling it as a thriller/action movie.

    I’m so relieved that the disaster footage was cut in, especially as it seemed to have global warming or some such environmental catastrophe as the cause.

    And I’ll tell you why I think it’s a negative thing to mislead people like this; I don’t want to have to sit through a screening full of disgruntled inchworms huffing and puffing, taking the piss and ruining the experience for me.

    Anyhoo, the discussion seems long over, but these are my thoughts.