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November 03, 2010

Grisly '127 Hours' makes people faint. Is that a marketing hook?

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Nov 3 2010

127-hours

If there's one thing that late shlockmeister William Castle knew, it's this: If no one in the audience loses consciousness during a horror movie, it's not a successful opening. (In case they weren't scared enough to pass out, he always had some ringers in the room. He was nothing if not a thorough planner.) Castle, whose 1950s flicks still get gimmicky midnight and revival showings, would be salivating at 127 Hours. The Fox Searchlight drama, opening in a few cities this Friday from Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, has had people dropping like flies at industry screenings and film festivals. So far, according to the Los Angeles Times, at least a dozen audience members have passed out after watching a particularly gruesome scene. The movie, shot documentary-style with James Franco as the star, was inspired by the real-life experience of a hiker who amputated his forearm to escape boulders that had trapped him. In reality, the pocket-knife surgery took an hour, but the film, mercifully, takes only a few minutes to portray what happened. No matter. Swooning has ensued. Fox Searchlight, a nimble and insightful marketer with hits like Slumdog Millionaire, Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine to its credit, apparently isn't advertising the faintings in its marketing. ("We don't see a particular publicity value in it," says studio co-president Stephen Gilula. Multiplexes, on the other hand, might post some warnings so that moviegoers are aware of the intense content. Castle would've parked a few ambulances outside and stocked the room with "nurses." Ah, showmanship. It's a lost art.

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