National Public Radio has a nice audio report on the lack of promotion given to IDIOCRACY, the sci-fi comedy from Mike Judge (OFFICE SPACE) that openedi in just seven cities this Friday.
Basically, 20th Century Fox provided no publicity materials of any kind: no press releases, no photographs, no audio clips - not even a trailer. Absolutely nothing.
The NPR report includes interviews with some experts in marketing who note that this is unprecedented. One University of Southern California professor, who used to work for Fox back in the days of STAR WARS, points out that even when a film's box office success seemed doubtful at best, the studio made at least a token effort to get people into theatres.
The report also mentions that the film does not deserve its fate. One expert says: "Among American comedies this year, it's one of the few with any ideas. [...] I'd will take it any day over LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE."
NPR does err slightly in saying that the film has drawn mixed reaction from critics. This assesment is based on two newspaper reviews: one an "A," the other a "D." In fact, Rotten Tomatoes' Tomato Meter gives the film a 73% fresh rating, based on a survey of 15 reviews: 11 postive, 4 negative.
What goes unexplained is why Fox dumped the film so unceremoniously. There are rumors: that the film did not test well or that Fox feared that the film's satire (which includes jabs at Fox News) was potentially offensive to corporate partners. Unfortunately, neither Fox nor Judge would comment for the story.