Michael Moore bailout movieLast weekend the teaser trailer for Michael Moore’s as yet untitled documentary about the global financial crisis debuted in cinemas in the U.S. There’s nothing particularly memorable about it, expect perhaps the trailer (watch it below) is unusually lacklustre – consisting only of a direct to camera spiel in which Moore implores the audience (sarcastically of course) to reach into their pockets and give generously to a mock charity for banks and large corporations.

“The downturn in our economic has hurt many people. People who had no choice but to go on government assistance, yet our welfare agencies can only do so much,” Moore says. “That is why I am asking you to reach into your pockets right now and lend a hand. Ushers will be coming down the aisles to collect your donations for City Bank, Bank of America, AIG, Golden Sachs, JP Morgan and a host of other needy banks and corporations.”

The trailer would have come and gone without making much of a splash were it not for carefully coordinated screenings in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington D.C., where ushers actually did appear afterwards. A rash of reports surfaced in subsequent days about screenings of the trailer that concluded with the house lights coming back on and volunteer ushers entered cinemas wearing ‘SAVE OUR CEOs’ t-shirts (pictured above, click to enlarge). They reportedly patrolled the aisles collecting donations in tin containers.

Here’s one account from Hollywood Elsewhere:

“The lights came up and a team of eight or nine kids in white T-shirts that said “Save Our CEOs” came down the aisle to collect money after the teaser showed at Manhattan’s Leows’ Lincoln Plaza. Believe it or not, I saw six or seven women actually reach into their wallets and give a buck to the volunteers. Don’t they understand they’re participating in their own humiliation by doing this? It’s a joke, for God’s sake.”

And another account from JoBlo.com:

“Um…people actually GAVE MONEY!!! I’m not kidding. I actually heard some guy say, ‘Honey, grab my wallet’. Sigh.”

And another from MTV Movies Blog:

“People looked confused and irritated immediately. Older men in the back of the theatre groaned, and muttered “Start the movie, start the movie, start the movie!” Young teenagers in the front got a kick out of it, while the older crowd just growled. After a few seconds, several people in aisle seats actually got out of their seats and dropped change in the buckets. A guy in the front of theater even donated a few dollars.”

Since most reports state that the audience were being filmed at the time, it’s a likely bet that some of the footage will make its way into the finished film. Bizarre marketing tactics, that’s for sure, but at the end of writing a blog post I must admit – it worked.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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