Vulture got some egg on its face this morning when it ran a story about the top secret Damon Lindelof/Brad Bird movie known as 1952. They made this claim:
It will be set largely in the present day and it is about aliens making contact here on Earth. Our spies tell us that Bird and Lindelof want to recapture the spirit of 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, right down to centering it around a man in his late forties, à la Richard Dreyfuss’s Roy Neary.
Except no. Immediately upon publishing the site was contacted by sources close to the production - probably Lindelof - who told them it ain't about alien contact at all. The retraction:
[W]hile it is true that 1952 is very much in the spirit of Close Encounters (and centers around a Roy Neary-like protagonist), it is not in fact about an alien encounter.
What wasn't retracted was the claim that 1952's marketing campaign will begin before the movie is even shot. It's probably already begun - the article talks about how the movie was spawned by a box Lindelof 'found' at Disney:
A banker’s box of files and documents... had been left moldering in Walt Disney’s personal development lab, WED Enterprises, which later became the studio’s vaunted Imagineering department. The box was originally labeled with the title of the studio’s 1965 comedy That Darn Cat!, which had been crossed out and in its place was written “1952.” Inside was a random-at-first-glance collection of documents and primary source materials that, when looked at all together, indicated that someone had been working on a project (movie? theme park ride?) about alien contact.
That sounds like real viral marketing horseshit. And while I love Brad Bird and belleve he is a filmmaker of immense talent and power, the idea of the marketing campaign - a treasure hunt where invested fans can slowly reveal the story of the movie - feels like a feeble horse before the cart situation, a scenario where the hype is what moves everything forward, not the storytelling. It's the JJ Abrams-ization of story, where it doesn't matter if your tale is good, or well-told, just that you got the kids all psyched up in advance. William Castle would be proud.