Eddie Murphy’s Secret Sci-Fi Movie

Did you know that Eddie Murphy’s Meet Dave is a sci-fi movie? If not, then Fox’s marketing department has pleased the head of the studio. The head of the studio also would like for people to pay to see this movie. They’re not, the Los Angeles Times theorizes, for the very reason that he got his way:

Even though they’re madly envious about Fox’s ability to turn lemons into lemonade, rival marketers say Fox made a rare but fundamental misstep with “Meet Dave” by running away from the film’s concept. The idea may be dumb — Eddie Murphy is actually a spaceship from a distant planet visiting Earth, taking the form of, well, Eddie Murphy — but at least it’s a viable comedy premise, offering Murphy the chance to be a comical fish out of water, doing stranger in a strange land bits of business.

But people who saw the ads had virtually no idea what the movie was about. Whenever I quizzed various potential moviegoers about the film, I got a lot of puzzled shrugs. Even people who’d seen the trailer or the TV spots couldn’t grasp the premise. Fox had ignored a primal marketing law: If you have a concept, market to the concept, not away from it.

But Fox seemed uncomfortable marketing the idea of a sci-fi-based comedy. In fact, the studio ditched the film’s original title, “Starship Dave,” for that very reason, even though the title made it far more clear than “Meet Dave” what the movie was about. Fox’s reluctance to promote the film’s sci-fi nature is actually in keeping with studio Co-Chairman Tom Rothman’s long-held belief that sci-fi films and films set in the future are box-office poison.

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2 thoughts on “Eddie Murphy’s Secret Sci-Fi Movie

  1. I’ve just seen an ad for it on Sky, and it says in the first sentence that “Dave” is a spaceship.

    This is very weird, because the British are much less comfortable with SF than Americans.

  2. You’d find that’s also made explicit in the materials on the promotional <http://www.meetdavemovie.com/> Meet Dave website.

    But the trailer does not say Dave is a spaceship in the first sentence, though the fact is apparent from the visuals.

    The disconnect seems to be in how readily people who aren’t science fiction fans can grasp the concept from what’s shown in the trailer. The LA Times has found the average filmgoer has a significant problem with it.

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