For several years, The Walt Disney Co. has worked on an animated version of "Rapunzel," the fairy tale about a beautiful, lonely girl with long hair who has been condemned to live in a tower.
But when the trailer hit theaters, the movie had been renamed "Tangled." And Rapunzel was hardly seen. Instead, the trailer focused on a roguish, wise-guy thief, Flynn Rider. What gives?
" 'Chick flick.' Those are dirty words to most men," said movie industry analyst Paul Degarabedian of Hollywood.com. "Here's the problem: Girls will go to see guy movies, but guys don't want to see girl movies. That's been a truism throughout the history of cinema."
Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Missy Schwartz noted that after Disney's animated "The Princess and the Frog" failed to attract boys and grossed a disappointing $104 million, "the studio is emphasizing 'Tangled's' male character at the expense of anything remotely girly. Somewhere, Ariel and the rest of the Disney princesses are weeping."
The runaway success of this summer's "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" can be traced at least in part, to an advertising campaign that downplayed the film's romantic triangle of human Bella, vampire Edward and werewolf Jacob in favor of fangs, fur and furious action.
From the "Eclipse" trailer you might not even realize that the movie is part of an epic love story.
Which was fine with Kansas City moviegoer Andy Kyser -- described by his wife, Emily, as a man who "doesn't watch crying movies unless it's 'Rudy.' "
Kyser, 32, who works in sales for UPS, was familiar with the whole "Twilight" phenomenon because his wife was a big fan. He knew he would be expected to attend the new film with Emily, but admitted the "Eclipse" trailer piqued his curiosity in ways the two earlier installments had not.
"What got me going was the fight scenes," he said. "It looked really exciting."
The effort to attract male viewers worked. Not only did "Eclipse" have the fourth-highest-grossing Independence Day opening weekend ever, but, said Degarabedian, "I'm hearing that audiences for 'Eclipse' are 35 percent male. That is about double the numbers of the first two 'Twilight' movies."
While "Twilight" fans are not exactly weeping over the male-oriented advertising for "Eclipse," some are disappointed, saying that the approach taken by Summit Entertainment reinforced stereotypes about entertainment geared mostly to women.
"We understand that there's a financial incentive to attract men to the franchise," said Jennifer Aubrey, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Missouri-Columbia and a co-author of a new book, "Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media, & the Vampire Franchise."
But attempts to make the movie "boyfriend worthy" undervalue its diehard female supporters, Aubrey said.
"Girl culture is routinely dismissed as schlocky and unworthy. Pop music, soap opera, chick lit ... all are culturally devalued when compared to forms that men tend to enjoy.
"In our research we heard from 'Twilight' fans who had been mocked for their enthusiasm. We talked to boys who are embarrassed to call themselves 'Twilight' fans. They were so ridiculed by their peers that they had to renounce the books and movies."
By appealing to the guys, Aubrey said, Summit may have created a short-term boost in ticket sales. But it also missed a long-term opportunity to "develop the terms for future female franchises."
"The media won't confer cultural legitimacy on an entertainment until it is accepted by men," she said, adding that "Twilight's" success was just as valid as that of the "Harry Potter" or "Star Wars" series. "Why not sell the movie for what it is?"
Movie marketing has come a long way since filmdom's golden era, when the content of studio films had to conform to the moralistic dictates of Hollywood's Production Code and every movie was deemed suitable for everyone. It didn't matter if you were a grandmother or a 5-year-old ... one trailer fit all.
But today's movie-going audience is splintered -- kids, action fans, grown-ups, women, sci-fi and comic-book geeks, 'tweeners. "Eclipse" suggests how the same movie can be effectively marketed to different audience segments.
Perhaps the last word on the subject should come from Kyser, who reported that "Eclipse" got to him a bit more than he was comfortable with.
"I actually got a little angry when Bella kissed Jacob before the big battle," he said. "Not that I like Edward a lot -- I'm not on anybody's 'team.' It's just that the movie got me involved. Despite my manliness."