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Hyperbole: A Hollywood tradition


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(CNN) -- Studios may like to keep their marketing machinations mysterious -- none of the usually eager marketing and publicity folks approached by CNN.com would talk about blurbs -- but exclamation-pointed hype has been a part of the industry since the beginning.

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As Variety managing editor Timothy Gray notes, old movie trailers used to make the hyperbolic assertions themselves: "The greatest love story ever filmed!" or "You won't believe your eyes!" Somewhere along the line, the studios realized, "We could get a critic to say that," he says.

The studios' job was made easier by film junkets -- in which the studios invite media to screen films and interview stars -- and the rapidly growing hunger for movie and celebrity news.

"A lot of quotes come out of junkets," notes Gray, adding that some reviewers believe they "need to be quoted to establish themselves."

"The expectation [of the studios] is that [reviewers will] come up with something quotable in one sentence," says Us magazine reviewer Thelma Adams. "It's part of the give-and-take."

There are also the reviewers who "will say anything to get their name in the paper," she continues. "They won't go out of their way to write a positive review, but ... they'll play ball" for the glory of their own words in extra-large type, publication duly noted.

"It's free advertising for your publication," she adds.

Moreover, studios like quotes so they can impress their talent, says Gray.

"Marketing people have told me ... if they don't use them, the filmmakers ask, 'Why aren't there any quotes?' "

-- Todd Leopold


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