I checked out the IRON MAN press junket in Seoul a couple of days ago, which was a pretty amusing event. Last year I missed out on the TRANSFORMERS fun, but CJ Entertainment and Paramount similarly threw another press bash this year. Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. were on a power tour of the world to promote the film — Australia, Korea, Paris, Berlin, New York, LA, and New York again. Kind of neat to see such a big marketing campaign up close.
CJ and Paramount invited about 30 journalists from around Asia for the one and only Asia press event at the Shilla Hotel. And of course there were dozens of local journalists. There were laser lights and b-boy dancers and a whole bunch of bells and whistles. Mssrs. Favreau and Downey Jr. both seemed legitimately surprised by all the hoopla. Kind of annoying, actually, to have 15-minutes of mindless noise and then having less than 20 minutes of Q&A. Only three questions came from the audience, including one from the Korea Times and one from the JoongAng Daily.
(One of whom asked “What do you think of Korea?” and “What do you think of Korean movies?”. I was kind of shocked no one asked if they liked kimchi).
Later in the day, Jon and Rob (because we became that close) had a more sedate Q&A with us foreign reporters, high up in the rooftop lounge of the Shilla Hotel. That was more useful and interesting. Only TV reporters got any one-on-one time with them, but even then, they had barely five minutes. Really fast, in and out.
Fortunately, both Jon and Rob were pretty interesting in their short interviews. Jon seemed especially surprised how much freedom he had to do what he wanted, with little studio interference. I guess one the suits had their advertising campaign mapped out, actors cast, Iron Man armor designed and fights laid out, they had little interest in the talky bits.
It was especially interesting hearing their thoughts because both of them are from a more art-house background, so creating a $180 million action film was an odd change of pace. Rather intriguing to hear their reasoning about why they made the change. Basically, in this day and age, they said, the art-house film isn’t really an art-house film anymore. Even “small”, artsy films are huge exercises in marketing and financing. If you are going to put yourself through that kind of hell, why not do it for a film that lots of people will actually see? Can’t say that I disagree with their logic.
As for the film IRON MAN, I was lucky enough to see that in IMAX earlier in the week. Not sure what kind of embargo there is supposed to be, but you can easily find dozens of reviews all over the Internet already. The story is pretty faithful to the IRON MAN mythology. Downey is great. The armor looks cool (with a tinge of manga to its design). The story is told with some intelligence (at least by the sliding scale that is the superhero movie) and wit. The action itself was perhaps a little underwhelming — not terrible, but not the orgiastic overkill that Michael Bay would do (thankfully).