Annals Of Ill-Conceived Outdoor Movie Advertising: The 'Captivity' Billboards
Sadist/misogynist cinephiles, take heed: you may have less than 24 hours to enjoy the series of 30 billboards erected around town to promote Elisha Cuthbert vehicle Captivity, depicting the "Abduction," "Confinement," "Torture," and "Termination" of low-budget horror movie kidnapping victims, as they're scheduled to be taken down by sometime tomorrow following complaints from concerned citizens who appreciate a little more subtlety in their exploitation flick advertising. So how did these offensive, child-spooking ads get erected in the first place? "Damned if we know!", say furiously buck-passing executives from distributors Lionsgate and AfterDark Films to the LAT:
The message is that this is what you do with women," Cain said. "You kidnap then, you confine them, you torture them and you kill them."
Peter Wilkes, a Lionsgate executive, told me the studio had nothing to do with the ads that bear its name. Lionsgate partnered with After Dark Films. So I talked to Courtney Solomon, who runs After Dark. He said the billboards were a mistake. That ad was one of 50 or 60 concepts under consideration, he said, and before any were approved, this one ended up at a printing plant and up on billboards in L.A., as well as on New York taxicabs.
"To be honest with you, I don't know where the confusion happened and who's responsible," Solomon said. [...]
The billboards should all be down by Tuesday, Solomon said, carping a bit about how much it would cost him to have the ads removed. He apologized to those who were offended and said he hoped people don't get the wrong idea about "Captivity." It's not a slasher movie, he said. "It's about something that happens to 850,000 people in this country a year."
It's a simple enough misunderstanding, we're sure: leave those mischievous printers alone with a series of disturbing mock-ups clearly labeled, "TOO SCARY. PLS DO NOT USE. FOR YOUR FUN ONLY!" and the next thing you know, an entire city is being terrorized by fifty-foot images of Elisha Cuthbert being snuffed out. We hope that After Dark's internal investigation proves the printing plant's culpability, saving the studio the expense of replacing the billboards that more accurately express Captivity's sensitive exploration of the criminally overlooked plight of the hundreds of thousands of American kidnapping victims who are imprisoned and then imaginatively tortured by psychopaths each and every year.