The Swan Archives
The Swan Archives
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The Swan Archives Marketing Collateral Page

This page explores the North American campaigns. For promotional material from other parts of the world, go to our Around the World Page.

The Swan Archives' principal mission is to preserve Swan's legacy through Phantom's original marketing collateral, and make it available over the Internet to historians, scholars, and others with a serious interest in the pinnacle of human achievement that is Phantom of the Paradise, and in the man who made it; the girl who sang it; and the marketers who....didn't really do a very good job.

THE FIRST CAMPAIGN
 
Here's a page from Fox's Exhibitor Preview Book for 1974/1975, which announced Phantom's upcoming release to theater owners.
Fox distributed this Pre-Release Information Guide, containing a plot summary and some production details (which you can see by clicking on it), to exhibitors well in advance of the film's release, to drum up interest, gauge reaction and help the studio determine how much money and effort should be spent on marketing.
 
Phantom opened in the US in New York and Los Angeles on October 31, 1974, and in a few other American cities soon thereafter, to generally extremely disappointing box office. Director/writer Brian De Palma stopped by an opening day screening in New York, only to find the theater heartbreakingly empty. Interviewed in 1977, De Palma remarked, "I've always thought rock and horror were very close stylistically. I felt I had a solution in combining two separate audiences. Obviously, I didn't."

The involvement of A&M records (which issued the soundtrack, and which more or less owned the exclusive rights to Paul Williams' life at the time) in the co-marketing campaign with 20th Century Fox meant that the film was initially pitched towards what A&M and Fox believed to be the teens-through-college "rock music demographic." John Alvin's beautiful painted graphics on the posters and soundtrack album emphasized guitars, keyboards, microphones, patch cords, and other musical ephemera, and a photorealistic depiction of songwriter/star Paul Williams, signaling the studio's intention to rely heavily on Williams' existing fame in its promotion of the film.

Fox's Phantom presskit (marketing package sent to journalists to assist them in writing stories) typically included an assortment of nine black and white stills from the full set of 22, as well as production notes and a template press release.
 
Fox presskit
(Open the presskit to see inside)
We've only ever seen one of the 8"x10" black and white glossies of the Style A art printed on the same stock as the black and white stills and marked "Ad art #1," and we're not entirely sure what its purpose was, or to whom it would have been distributed.
 
 Press Release from Presskit
 Production Information from Presskit
 
The very poorly written cast biographies in the production notes were examples of the work done for the producers by Pickwick Public Relations. Pickwick might also have been responsible for media relations; if so, they were pretty terrible at it, as virtually all of the preproduction and prerelease stories about the film were full of mistakes, shallow, and failed even to spell the participants' names correctly. Neither producer Ed Pressman nor Fox was happy with the work, and this correspondence, although cordial, reveals Fox's barely concealed disgust at both its shoddiness, and the high price charged for it.

The black and white stills in the presskit featured, in their lower-right hand corners, suggested captions for use by newspaper editors. The versions of the stills sent to theaters for lobby decoration purposes had, in place of the captions, the National Screen Service verbiage, as seen in these nine examples:
 

 
 
 
 
 
This composite of four of the original stills combined on a single 8x10 was circulated to newspapers in 1984 for use in conjunction with television airings.
 
Depending on the amount of attention devoted by the studio's advertising and marketing department to a particular film, up to four different designs, or styles, might have been used for posters, newspaper advertising, and other promotion. The artwork associated with the most dominant campaign was generally known as Style A, and the other campaigns would be referred to as Styles B, C, and D, in descending order of importance or, in the case of a staged marketing campaign, in chronological order. Movie theaters showing the film would invariably display the Style A art in their lobby poster display case, and if a second or third poster case was also available, they might also have the Style B and Style C art. In Phantom's case, two styles of art were created initially. The Style A art, with the title of the film shown in neon in front of a blue lightning bolt with illustrations of the three principal characters, was also used for the soundtrack album cover. The Style B art, centered around a black and white photo of the Phantom at his keyboard, was used exclusively for marketing the film, but not the soundtrack.

The Style A art was designed by Anthony Goldschmidt, and illustrated by the great John Alvin. This was only Alvin's second professional engagement in the film industry (his first had been the poster for Blazing Saddles), but over the next thirty years he became probably the best and most well known illustrator of movie art in the world. Alvin created the spectacular posters for Young Frankenstein; ET: The Extra Terrestrial; Aladdin; Cocoon; and Willow, as well as for My Favorite Year (which, incidentally, also featured Jessica Harper) and around 150 other films. His Phantom poster was selected by the National Collection of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Modern Art to be included in "Images of an Era (1945-1975)," a collection of posters that toured Europe as part of the US Bicentennial under the auspices of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (We've seen it claimed all over the 'net, mostly by people who copied erroneous text from Wikipedia, that the Smithsonian exhibited it as "one of the best posters of the twentieth century," but that's just nonsense. Museums, and particularly the Smithsonian, don't make it their business to decide, or make pronouncements about, what's the "best," of anything.)
 
This is the pride of the Archives' collection: the original art for the Style A campaign, handpainted by Mr. Alvin in 1974 with radiant dyes and inks (mostly with airbrush), on Strathmore paper. It's about 22" x 20", and is the only original, handmade color rendering of this artwork known to exist. Mr. Alvin created this as a preliminary version, for review by the studio and other interested parties, before he created the final painting (the whereabouts of which are unknown) that was reproduced en masse for the poster. As can be seen, it differs from the final poster artwork in many respects, three of which are very significant: First, the title shown here is simply "Phantom," rather than "Phantom of the Paradise," because this art was created before Fox implemented the title-change occasioned by their concerns about possible conflict with the King Features comic strip called Phantom. Second, the depiction of Paul Williams is cartoony, where it is almost photorealistic in the final version. (Clearly, Fox determined at the last moment that they wanted to use a more recognizable likeness of Williams, who was the only actor in the film whose face was already well known.) Finally, this version has two swans on either side of Paul Williams' head, rather than the stars that appear in the final version. You can read more about the fate of the two swans on our Swan Song Fiasco page.
 
"Foreign" version of the Style A one sheet (which doesn't have the "PG" logo, as it was intended for use in English language territories where the MPAA rating system wasn't used, such as Canada.)
An extremely limited number of 36" x 36" posters like this one (we're not sure how many, but we sure don't see these very often) were specially printed prior to the film's release, at designer Anthony Goldschmidt's urging, for distribution to studio executives, publicity people, and the like. These were printed on high quality paper, with special partial Day-Glo inks for the neon "lights," and were coated with Marcoat, sort of a shellac glaze, which added gloss and protection from fading. Because of the large size, the luxurious printing process used, and the fact that they were distributed rolled rather than folded, they are far more attractive than the theatrical posters, and show the artwork to better advantage than any other format we know of.
 
American version of the Style A, which had the "PG" logo, in the 27" x 41" ("one-sheet") size, the 30" x 40" size and the 40" x 60" size. The two larger sizes came rolled on heavy cardboard, rather than folded on high gloss paper like the one sheets.
 
The 22" x 28" of the Style A, which came on heavy cardboard stock.
We admit we're not completely sure what the hell this thing is. It's one-sheet sized, with three horizontal folds but no vertical fold. It has no "PG" logo, and the credits are printed in yellow rather than white, and in a smaller font than is used on the other one-sheets. It has no National Screen Service verbiage and, strangely, has a copyright notice under the Fox logo of 1978 instead of 1974. Our best guess is that it was created for use in connection with screenings at U.S. or British military bases overseas. If you've got a better theory, we're listening.
 
Only a few hundred of these huge 24"x82" Day-Glo banners were likely ever printed. This is the only one we've ever seen, and we're pretty sure that not many have survived. Banners like these were typically used only by theaters that had a big enough spot to hang them: maybe behind a large window over the doorway, or hung under the marquee. Despite their rarity, banners tend not to be very popular with collectors, because they're awkward to store and display.
 
A&M seems to have made diligent efforts to push the hype pretty hard, working with record stores on promotions for the soundtrack, giving out free posters, t-shirts, and buttons at screenings, and going after the audience as if they were promoting any other high profile music product. A&M's rock-oriented Phantom presskit contained a write-up by Gerrit Graham who, in addition to his acting gigs, was getting work at the time as a music reviewer, writing for Rolling Stone and other magazines. (A&M also put Gerrit's prose in the sheet music book; we at The Swan Archives hope he got some royalties.) And, A&M included in their presskit a couple of black and white stills of Paul Williams, using Fox's shots, but with their own logo on them.
 
A&M presskit
(Open the Presskit to see inside)
 
 Presskit text

The very-hard-to-find pinback button given away at early screenings.
These yellow premiere buttons are far rarer today then their black and white brothers pictured to the left.
 
This is one of the posters they gave away at the premieres. Some theaters sold them in the lobby for $2.00 at subsequent screenings. The lack of credits makes it easily distinguishable from the regular Style B 27" x 41" (one sheet) movie poster intended for use in theater poster cases. These were originally distributed rolled, not folded.
This is the studio-issued version of the Style B one sheet. Studio versions of one sheets were created for use at showings where the exhibitor was getting promotional materials directly from the studio, rather than from National Screen Service: typically local, one-off, or specialty showings. Some of these were distributed rolled, some folded.
This is the National Screen Service issue of the Style B one sheet, with white border, which was distributed by NSS to its regional distribution points for use by theaters. Although it was presumably printed in much larger numbers than the studio-issued version, it's strangely harder to find today.
 
Here's the 40"x60" of the Style B, which came rolled on heavy cardboard stock.
This is the ridiculously rare (we've only ever seen two survivors) wilding poster. Wilding posters are generally pasted (using wheat paste, applied with paint rollers, which transforms the entire poster into a big sloppy wet sticker) by the hundreds (or even thousands) on walls, fencing outside construction sites, and other places where there might otherwise be graffiti. The very process of posting them ruins them, and makes it virtually impossible to take them down intact. They're exposed to the elements, and most often covered up with other posters days later. For Phantom, a small number of these 27"x41" posters were pasted to walls in Los Angeles and New York City shortly before the premiere. To generate buzz and mystery, they don't even reveal the film's title. There's no marking on the back, and no small print on the bottom. Many thousands of these Phantom wilding posters were printed, but unfortunately too late to be of use, and nearly all were destroyed without even having been posted. We think of this poster as being one of the absolute prizes of the Archives' collection.
 
The 22" x 28" of the Style B, which came on heavy cardboard stock
 
This is the very unusual 14"x36" of the Style B, which came on heavy cardboard stock.
 
A fairly rare "three sheet": three times the size of the one sheet, it came in two separate pieces that had to be mated for display. These were made in smaller numbers because most theaters didn't have poster cases large enough to accommodate them...so they're pretty hard to find now.
 
Collecting tip:
"Reprints" of some of the U.S. Phantom theatrical one sheets (27" x 41") are sold on ebay all the time, and the sellers aren't always clear that their goods are not original. They use terms like "vintage" to confuse buyers. These posters can be good looking, but are not worth anything to a collector. Any Phantom poster that's 27" by 40" (rather than 27" by 41") is definitely a reprint. As well, the originals were generally distributed to theaters by National Screen Service, and nearly always have the NSS stencil on the back, which looks like this.
 
The number 74/339 appears on most NSS-distributed Phantom materials, indicating that Phantom was the 339th film to be entered into NSS's database in 1974. Reprint Phantom theatrical one sheets (unless someone's trying really hard to make a good forgery) will not have the NSS stencil on the back, nor will some of the (genuine) one sheets intended for international use; the international one sheets will lack the PG logo as well. The "FOR" on this one designates that it is intended for "foreign" (Canadian) use, and therefore lacks the MPAA's PG logo.
 
This crazy-rare standee came from A&M's marketing department, intended for use as a counter display in record stores. It's thick cardboard, and stands about 13 and a half inches tall.
And here's its little brother. Just under six inches tall, this table tent, on heavy paper rather than cardboard, shipped flat and got folded into a triangle. It was intended to be perched on tables at restaurants and bars just prior to the film's release.
 
Outside and inside of flyer distributed in Los Angeles to advertise the premiere. This was folded in half vertically to make a little booklet.
 
And here's how that flyer looked in New York.
 
Newspaper ad for the October 31 Los Angeles premiere, with a lame "come as your favorite phantom" costume contest. Wow. A costume on Halloween. Marketing Geniuses.
Newspaper ad for the New York premiere. As can be seen here, the Style A art doesn't translate well to small size black and white newspaper ad copy. Although it's very compelling when large and in color, the busy artwork, when printed in black and white in small size, just looks like an indecipherable blob. In addition, within two weeks after the film's release, it had become clear that Phantom was being perceived as a Paul Williams vehicle, and that this was actually chasing people away. So, except for these ads for the premieres and a few other early placements, the Style B art quickly became preferred for newspaper advertising.
Newspaper ad for the July 27, 1974 sneak preview in Los Angeles. 164 survey responses were turned in, with 46% of 15 to 20 year olds (and 36% overall) saying they would "definitely" tell their friends to see the film. A significant number of respondents (including 8% of those who would "definitely" tell their friends to see the film), however, objected to the record press scene. This may be why the bloody shot of Winslow's post-mooshing face was removed prior to general release.
 
Souvenir program booklet handed out at the Los Angeles premiere.
 
Fox funded costume parties to be held at the New York and Los Angeles Halloween night premieres (at the Trans-Lux East and the National Theater in Westwood, respectively), offering up $500 worth of prizes for "best costumes." The premieres were sponsored by RKO (Fox-affiliated) radio stations KHJ in Los Angeles and WXJO in New York, with disc jockeys on the stations exhorting listeners to attend in costume. Both stations also ran interviews with Paul Williams, and promoted cuts from the soundtrack on-air, and had their disc jockey "personalities" appear at record stores in the vicinity of the theaters, pushing the album. Special screenings were held for RKO disc jockeys, in hopes that they'd talk the film up on their shows. Custom tickets, featuring the Style A art, were printed for the premieres. (If anyone still has one of these...hey, you can't blame us for asking.) T-shirts featuring the Style A art were given away at the premieres, and were on sale in the theater lobbies at subsequent shows. Paul Williams attended the Los Angeles premiere, along with Herb Pacheco (who played Swan's bodyguard) and cast members from Planet of the Apes -- in costume.
 
Bumperstickers like this one were given away at the New York premiere, courtesy of radio station WXJO.
Paul Williams and Herb Pacheco at the Los Angeles premiere.
 
The winner of the Los Angeles premiere costume contest, with disc jockey Dave Sebastian of KHJ. That's Dave on the right. Ha ha.
Here's the National Theater in Los Angeles, as it looked during Phantom's premiere run there.
 
Here are some other contestants from the Los Angeles premiere/costume contest.
 
From Boxoffice Magazine, in April of 1975: There was apparently a "preview" screening in New Orleans a few months after the film had opened in New York and Los Angeles, in connection with which these three "promotional glitterers" (which we assume means they were paid to market the film) visited talk shows, radio stations and newspapers. If this is typical of the huge promotional push Fox mounted for the film, it's no wonder the poor movie tanked. Were you a "promotional glitterer"? Get in touch, if you're not too embarrassed... we'd love to hear more about this.
 
Pressbooks were created by the distributor's marketing team, and contained information and ad copy that could be provided by exhibitors to newspapers. Phantom's pressbooks really sucked.
   
Here are the lobby card sets; lobby cards for most films came in sets of eight, in two sizes (11" x 14", and 8" x 10"), were printed on light cardboard, and were intended for display in, as the name suggests, theater lobbies. In Phantom's case, there were two versions of each set. The two versions had some pictures in common, but others which differed, for a total of 13 different cards in each set. Click on a lobby card below to see the entire set.
 
11" x 14" Lobby Set
8" x 10" Lobby Set
 
Unfortunately, Fox was completely out of touch with the audience they were trying to reach. Reviewing their internal memos enthusing over their small-minded, condescending and frankly pathetic marketing plans just makes us want to heave. Look, we at the Archives know that Phantom isn't Schindler's List or something, but Fox, with their partners in crime at A&M, was arranging for space in places like Flip Teen Magazine (kind of a low-rent Tiger Beat), alongside stories about Marie Osmond, Karen Valentine, Susan Dey (of the Partridge Family!), Randy Mantooth, Kevin Tighe, etc. For crying out loud.
 
Seriously, Fox? Flip Magazine? You're killing us here.
 
Making matters even worse, Fox failed to execute much of what little promotion they had planned. Pressman's frustration was palpable as, only a week before opening night, he composed a compendium of Fox's failures, in the form of a letter to Fox's Arthur Rubine, which he said was "not meant in any way as a criticism but as a means of organizing [his] own thoughts on this matter..." Regardless of this polite disclaimer, Pressman's fury is clearly bubbling just under the surface, as he notes that Fox has failed to keep its promises to so much as put up posters in New York; failed to distribute the flyers you can see further up on this very page; failed to commence radio promotion; failed to organize a premiere "hoopla" for New York; failed to get the soundtrack album to New York DJs; and on and on:
 
View PDF
 
Apparently unable to find a way to market the film as a film, Fox, along with A&M, focused their reliance on the ubiquity of Paul Williams, which they saw as an asset. During October and November of 1974 alone, Williams promoted the film on syndicated radio (the Dick Clark Music Machine) and on TV through appearances on the Bobby Goldsboro Show; "Listen...That's Love", a Paul Williams network special; Dinah Shore; Salute to Playboy; Merv Griffin; Johnny Carson's Tonight Show; the Midnight Special; and the Mike Douglas Show (as co-host). Williams even made a personal appearance at the Licorice Pizza record store in Westwood on October 29, to sign copies of the soundtrack album and give away posters, tshirts and buttons. Much to producer Ed Pressman's growing frustration, Fox, with its focus on Williams ("Paul as a leading man seems to turn off a large segment of our audience," he observed at the time) and on silly poster and tshirt giveaways, was deferring to A&M, and running a campaign of the sort normally used by record companies in marketing to youngsters. (It might have helped if Fox's marketing had made clear to audiences that Williams was playing against type.) Pressman correctly recognized, as he fruitlessly tried to explain to Fox shortly after the film opened, that they were headed down the wrong path: that the "groovy rock campaign" was chasing away the mature audience that might have appreciated the film, and that a more dignified campaign might have appealed to that audience, without necessarily chasing away the younger audience that the film was actually drawing. He also understood that, as a striking visual work of an unconventional nature, Phantom could best be sold by means of broad television exposure, which could highlight its visual inventiveness.
 
View PDF
A couple of weeks after the mostly dismal opening, Pressman wrote a letter to Fox making the case that, despite the fact that A&M Records was "obviously...not doing its job", business was improving since the premiere (which suggests that the film had poor promotion but good word of mouth: effective pre-release promotion yields a great open, while gradually growing audiences is an indicator of positive word on the street.) Pressman encouraged Fox to take out ads emphasizing the generally positive reviews the film was getting from important reviewers (as opposed to those in the more parochial local papers, which were largely hostile), and pointed out that TV spots on general buy (that is, not limited to rock-oriented shows, and not aiming specifically at the rock audience) would likely help. Pressman, in sharp contrast to Fox, understood that Phantom was "a movie movie which should be sold as an original, unconventional, controversial, but entertaining film."
 
In keeping with their condescending attitude towards the youth audience, Fox sought out and obtained the services of Wolfman Jack as a "rabbi" who would presumably lead the children to the movie like the pied piper leading rats to the ocean. Radio and TV spots that featured voiceover by the Wolfman were particularly ill-calculated: while the Wolfman might have been thought of as avant-garde by the suits at Fox (he was, after all, hosting The Midnight Special on TV), he was probably more closely associated by teens in 1974 with his role in the previous year's hugely popular nostalgia-fest American Graffiti, in which he appeared as a disingenuous 1962-era disc jockey whose true character is revealed to be nothing like his on-air wildman persona; like the Wizard of Oz, he's made out to be something of a fraud. American Graffiti, by so effectively typing him as a relic of the early '60's, and a sham at that, rendered him immediately irrelevant, and even suspect, to hip teenagers in the '70s. Phantom's spokesman was, ironically, himself an early example of the "manufactured entertainment" that Phantom was critiquing: the Wolfman had earlier in his career promoted his public persona by attempting to conceal all information about his real name (Bob Smith) and background, both to hide his "pirate radio" activities from his legitimate employers, and, like Swan, to create an aura of mystery about himself. Given the themes of the film, it's also ironic that, according to this Fox memo, Wolfman Jack apparently agreed to heavily endorse and plug the film before having seen it.

That Fox was completely at sea in terms of trying to figure out how to position the film was evident from the flailing narration Wolfman recited in the TV spots: "It's a horror story...it's a love story...it's a comedy...all rolled into one..."

Click the thumbnail above to watch the lame thirty-second Wolfman Jack TV spot.
If you've just swallowed some bad sea urchin, and need to induce vomiting fast, this sixty-second Wolfman Jack TV spot might be just what you need. If more desperate measures are required, you could try watching these shitbags; that always works for me.
 
We wish the film had been promoted with a trailer more like this fan-made example, from Ross Raventos. His editing, while it might not seem as flashy as what you see in the trailers of today, is just right for the period, and this piece makes the film seem far more enticing than did the awful original trailers. Great job, Ross! Click the thumbnail above to watch the trailer.
 
The Wolfman also recorded several terrible radio spots (commercials), which were provided to radio stations on 7" vinyl records, and, less frequently, on reel-to-reel tape, as shown below. Here you can enjoy (we're not sure that's the right word) a 60-second spot, a 30-second spot, and a special 30-second spot featuring Mr. Jack giving the film his wholehearted endorsement. He sounds so very sincere.
 
Here's an alternate version of the radio spots. The audio is exactly the same. It's just purple.
 
If you want to watch the theatrical trailer (preview of coming attractions) from the original release, it's available on the French collector's edition double DVD set. The Swan Archives is very proud to have provided this original trailer from its collection to the DVD producers for their use in the collector's edition; apparently, it was unavailable anywhere else in good enough condition to be used. Alternatively, you could just watch it here:
 
It's a terrible trailer, but at least it didn't have Wolfman Jack doing the narration.
 
Here's what an actual 35mm Phantom trailer looks like.
 
Along with the anachronistic Wolfman, a fundamental problem in marketing to "the rock audience" was that Phantom was skewering precisely what that audience took most seriously: their music, and the musicians they had affirmed as heroes. The film was, in essence, telling Fox's presumed audience that they were idiots for being fooled by the market-driven personas of the Mick Jaggers, David Bowies, and Alice Coopers of the world. Indeed, of those who seem to remember Phantom most fondly from their youth today, the overwhelming majority were between 11 and 13 years old in 1974...a bit younger than the audience for which Fox was aiming, and perhaps less inclined than their older siblings to take offense at Phantom's swipes at the lemming fest that rock culture had become.

The unintended effect of the campaign was to position the film as one put out by geezers to make fun of the tastes of youth. The film also was not helped by some of the poor reviews (though, as discussed more thoroughly below, a lot of the reviews - and particularly the more important ones - were pretty good).
The ticket sales tell the story. As shown in this ad in the Western Edition of Boxoffice from November 18, 1974, Phantom sold more tickets in Los Angeles in its second weekend than it had in the first...which suggests that the marketing campaign failed to generate much excitement or anticipation, and that, to the extent the film had any success at all, it was due to word of mouth.
 
THE SECOND CAMPAIGN

A few months after release, when it became clear that the Fox/A&M campaign was failing miserably, Phantom producer Ed Pressman cut a deal with Fox allowing him to reposition the film (it wasn't technically a "re-release"), with new publicity. Pressman went into action by launching a second campaign, in mid-1975, which tagged the film as "The Most Highly Acclaimed Horror Phantasy of Our Time," pushing the horror angle and perennial plotline, and downplaying the music. De Palma, Finley, and Graham were made extremely available to give interviews to Castle of Frankenstein, Monster World, and every other horror magazine that would make time for them, new trailers and TV spots were struck (with narration read by Robert Perry rather than Wolfman Jack) emphasizing the cinematic, rather than musical, appeal of the film, and Pressman commissioned new poster artwork, from famed comic book artist Richard Corben, who painted from a rarely-seen rough sketch drawn by comic artist Neal Adams. (Adams drew the sketch for free, to aid Pressman in pitching a never-realized Phantom of the Paradise companion comic book, which he hoped might result in some paying work.) The new art emphasized the Phantom's mangled face and an anatomically exaggerated version of Phoenix, and de-emphasized the music and Paul Williams. In fact, in the Pressman-commissioned poster, trailer, and TV spots, Williams is barely visible. While he had been at the center of the original campaign, finding him on the Corben poster is like playing "Where's Waldo", and we only see glimpses of the back of his head in the revised TV spots. Pressman felt that, although test audiences had rated Williams very favorably, his association with the film was off-putting to those who hadn't seen it. The new Pressman-authored tagline eliminated reference to "rock'n'roll", instead focusing on horror and plot: "He's been maimed and framed, beaten, robbed and mutilated. But they still can't keep him from the woman he loves." Below is Pressman's handwritten first cut at the tagline, and Adams' sketch that formed the basis of the Corben poster.
 
Neal Adams' sketch for the Style C art
Pressman's handwriting is a little hard to read; we think it says, "He was maimed and framed, beaten, drugged and robbed. But they still can't keep him from the woman he loves.... Drawing: a repulsive deformed Phantom reaches for Phoenix who is cringing. This is the essence of the perennial story. The reason it's lasted and worked before."
 
Pressman's deal with Fox was that if Pressman's campaign proved successful in Little Rock, which they were using as a testing ground, Fox would reimburse him for the expenses of developing it, and would employ the campaign in other secondary markets.

As it turned out, the Pressman campaign (which Pressman personally supervised in Little Rock) proved effective, and Fox found itself obliged to pay for it, and rolled it out to other cities where TV advertising was relatively inexpensive. Pressman went to the trouble and expense of actually traveling to Texas, Memphis, and El Paso to confirm - with a level of obsessiveness generally attributed only to Kubrick - that it was being implemented correctly, going so far as to perform on-the-ground checks to verify that the ads were being placed as ordered, and that the TV spots were being broadcast on the contracted-for shows.
 
When Pressman saw that an ad for Phantom in the September 8, 1975 edition of The Commercial Appeal, a Memphis newspaper, had been altered to include a reference to Paul Williams, he shot off a mailgram to Fox saying that he hoped results would "not be adversely affected."
 
The film gradually took on life, bringing in decent (though never great) box office and some positive reviews. As De Palma put it, "When we revised the campaign in the U.S and made it seem more like The Phantom of the Opera than a horror/rock film, we got an entirely different response."
 
Beginning in February of 1975, this attractive sticker was affixed to the plastic-wrap encasing the soundtrack album, as this was less expensive than printing revised album covers to conform the album art to the then-current ad campaign for the film.
 
The second campaign included three new TV spots. One was 60 seconds long, and the other two were 30 seconds each. The Archives has obtained the original 16mm negatives of all three of these, with their original runcards from Movielab, the film processor. What you're looking at here is two original negatives, with each negative containing all three spots, plus a third spool that contains the optical soundtrack for the spots, as negatives don't normally have sound. To print a positive, the picture negative is combined with the optical soundtrack into a single print.
The Archives transferred the 16mm negatives and sound to digital, so now you can click the thumbnail above to watch all three TV spots from the second campaign. We at the Archives SO have your back! (Unfortunately, these spots are only slightly less dorky than the Wolfman Jack spots from the original campaign.)
 
The second campaign's theatrical trailer was just one more variation on the TV spots, sharing the same narration, but showing a few frames that didn't actually appear in the film, of Winslow's mangled face coming out of the record press. A lot of people who swear up and down that they "remember" seeing this footage in the film likely saw it in the trailer, or possibly they were in attendance at a pre-release screening that took place on the Fox lot in Los Angeles prior to the film's release, before a few last-minute changes had been made. In the '70s, it was fairly common for trailers and TV spots to contain alternate takes and angles, and other material not included in the final cut, because it was easier to assemble these previews from bits and pieces of unused footage that were already sitting around in the cutting room, rather than going to the time and expense of ordering up new prints of each clip needed for the preview. While Pressman had wanted to use the (unused) footage of Winslow's face coming out of the record press in the TV spots, broadcasters objected to its inclusion, so that footage was removed from the TV spots and confined to the trailer.
Here are the original script pages for the second campaign's TV and radio spots, so you can read along at home!
 
The thirty second radio spot for the revised campaign was similar to the audio for the TV spots, but with some really retro echoey reverb applied to the words, Phantom of the Paradise. We're so glad they ditched Wolfman Jack.
 
The centerpiece to Pressman's campaign, the "Style C" poster with the Corben artwork. The copyright notice on the poster specifies that the art is owned by Pressman Williams, rather than Fox, reflecting the fact that it was the producer, rather than the distributor, who commissioned the artwork.
The 30" x 40" rolled cardboard version of the "Style C" poster.
   
Pressman put out the call to the world of monster magazines,
and was rewarded with pretty healthy coverage in the mid-1975 timeframe.
 
By early 1976, Fox was bragging in Variety about the decent box office Phantom was pulling down in Texas and Arkansas, and was referring to Pressman's campaign as a "remarkable success story".
 
 
 
THE ORIGINS OF THE WINNIPEG PHENOMENON

Phantom fever didn't exactly sweep the world, but the film did extremely well in a few places: Paris, Japan, Los Angeles, and, mysteriously,* Winnipeg, Canada, where it ran, off and on, for over a year; the soundtrack album went gold in Canada based on sales in Winnipeg alone. Although the claim was made not long ago in a gushing story in Winnipeg's local press that the film played continuously there for 62 weeks in the same theater, this is a bit of overly romantic exaggeration. In fact, it enjoyed an eighteen week run at the Garrick Theatre starting in December of 1974, but was replaced in that cinema by The Great Waldo Pepper on May 2nd of 1975. It was then picked up at the North Main Drive-In for one week, from May 15-22, and then the Park Theatre for two weeks, from June 20 to July 3. It disappeared from Winnipeg screens at that point, until its return in February 1976, double billed at the Garrick (as it was in many other localities) with Young Frankenstein, for four weeks starting February 6. For the full story of Phantom's run in Winnipeg in 1975, see Doug Carlson's Why Winnipeg? pages.

*Actually, we don't think there's anything the slightest bit "mysterious" about Phantom's success in Winnipeg. In our view, the Winnipeg phenomenon is entirely explainable. While we have heard it proposed that Winnipeggers were simply more sophisticated and literate than everyone else, and while for all we know that might be the case, we think it's very important to keep in mind that, in 1975, Phantom was a hit in Winnipeg almost entirely amongst children aged 8-16, with the heaviest emphasis on 10-11 year olds. Were the children of Winnipeg really so preternaturally literate? Was something in their water? Their breakfast cereal? It's certainly fun (and of course very satisfying, particularly in Winnipeg) to entertain that theory, but, with all respect to our friends in the Peg, we don't think that's it. No, we think that what was special about Winnipeg was how the film was marketed there.

Here are the facts, and what the empirical evidence tells us: As more thoroughly (some might say "exhaustively," or even "exhaustingly") discussed above, A&M Records (rather than Fox) took the lead in marketing the film on its initial release. They marketed it the way they marketed music: with radio ads, and in print. With this sort of campaign behind it, Phantom bombed almost everywhere. The reason, we think, is obvious: Phantom didn't lend itself well to this sort of description. What was remarkable and compelling about Phantom was the way it looked, and this didn't come across on the radio or in print. We know from the relative success of the Pressman campaign, as detailed above, that when Phantom was marketed through saturation television advertising, it did well.

In Winnipeg, in contrast to everywhere else, the operator of the local theater, the Garrick (or possibly someone at the regional Fox marketing office), took it upon himself to do saturation television advertising, specifically on shows aimed at children. In particular, the saturation was heavy on "Archie and His Friends," a locally produced mid-day show hosted by a ventriloquist, and on "Huckleberry Hound," which immediately followed "Archie," as well as other afternoon kids' shows. We're not aware of Phantom having been marketed this way anywhere else. Even in the small markets where Pressman tried saturated TV advertising (Little Rock Arkansas, etc.), he didn't specifically aim the ads at children.

We have no doubt that the TV ads, with the Phantom's bizarre helmet, the comic book colors, and the music, functioned like a kid-magnet, and that the moms and dads of Winnipeg felt comfortable dropping their broods off at the local theater where they could watch the movie several times on a Saturday for a single ticket, and be a part of a pubescent community that met and shared the thrill of partaking in something that, with its PG rating, might be just a little bit dangerous, and taking in, from a safe place, what was probably the closest thing to a rock concert available to them on a weekly basis. Once critical mass was achieved (which happened almost nowhere else), the film's reputation was able to spread through word of mouth, even to adults. To be honest, we're a little envious of these lucky kids: Phantom disappeared from our own hometown after only a few days of neglect.

The singular success the Phantom enjoyed in Winnipeg wasn't, in our view, because the children of Winnipeg were so completely different from all the other children in North America; to subscribe to that theory would be to suggest that Phantom was not generally appealing, which is obviously not the case, given its 80%+ Tomatometer ratings today. (And, we're not aware of anything else that's particularly weird about this generation of Winnipeggers... it's not like they all rallied around anything else that the rest of the world didn't also discover.)

Phantom's problem has never been that people who saw it didn't like it; the problem has always been persuading people to see it in the first place. In Winnipeg, unlike anywhere else, the kids were continually exposed to the visual allure of the film through their televisions as they watched their cartoons. That was all the persuasion they needed. We believe that had the film been exposed to this age group in the same way in other places, it would have had substantially more success.

In truth, the children of Winnipeg were singular in their love for Phantom because they were, uniquely, the only ones to whom the film was competently marketed.

Sometimes, the most obvious and simplest explanation is, we think, the right one.

OTHER APPRECIATION

Less well known (and, in our opinion, more mysterious) is that the film was also a huge success in El Salvador, of all places: "Goodbye, Eddie" was a number one radio hit there, and Phantom was a box office smash, playing for several months to very good returns on its initial release, and returning in 1977 for a second run, which put "Goodbye, Eddie" back to the top of the charts, and "Special to Me" to the number one spot on the "Femenina" station, the premier English language station in the country. Amazingly, "The Hell of It" also rose to number one status on "Femenina" by the end of Summer, 1977. On the strength of Phantom's success, Paul Williams became well known in El Salvador, to such a degree that the specific episodes of shows that featured him, like "Donnie and Marie" and "The Hardy Boys" were aired for the sole reason that he was on them. William Finley enjoyed a brief cult following there, and, years later, when Amazon Women on the Moon opened, the newspaper ads gave Archie Hahn (who had a bit part in it) top billing and made mention of his having been in Phantom. And, when Dressed to Kill was released in that country, it was described in advertising as having been "directed by the director of Phantom..."...which was certainly not the approach taken in any other market.

 
The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, which has been around since 1934 and is still active today, was sufficiently enamored of Phantom that they put on a "Phantom Day" in late February of 1975. It was attended by William Finley, Gerrit Graham, Archie Hahn, George Memmoli and William Shephard (the "Rock Freak"). Here are a few photos (from the collection of Bill Warren) from that event.
 
Gerrit chats with Bill Warren, who at the time was Forry Ackerman's assistant; he's gone on to prominence as a noted film historian and author. Bill wrote one of the most appreciative and perceptive reviews the film received early on, for issue #26 of Photon Magazine. Photo by Marjii Ellers.
This photo was taken at the clubhouse meeting, which was audiorecorded; you can see the microphone here. Portions of the transcript appear in Photon alongside Bill's review. Left to right are Bill Warren, Gerrit Graham, Archie Hahn, and Bill Finley. Also present, but not pictured, were Memmoli and Shephard. Photo by Marjii Ellers.
 
Bill Finley poses with fans Kathy Bushman-Sanders and Robert Short. Kathy made Short's replica costume. Nice job! We don't know the bird's name.
 
CRITICAL RECEPTION AND AWARDS

Although the received wisdom is generally that Phantom was universally panned by the critics, this is actually far from true. Certainly, there were some haters. Perhaps the most negative piece was Rex Reed's spiteful write-up in the New York Daily News, which proves that Reed has been an idiot for longer than most people have been alive. The credential-less Reed is, without question, among the most useless reviewers in the business, understands nothing about film, and seems to revel in spewing adjective laden diatribes of campy bitching against whatever offends him (or whatever he suspects would offend him if he actually saw it; Reed's reviews frequently betray the fact that he hasn't actually screened the film he's reviewing). Of Phantom he wrote, not very enlighteningly, "Pay a visit to Brian De Palma's new film Phantom of the Paradise...and you'll want to throw up. I can't think of anything within recent memory that I have hated more than this terrible rock and roll parody of Phantom of the Opera. Totally lacking in structure, style, coherence and talent, it is one of the most disgraceful abuses of money that has been trashed upon the screen since Candy. It should be reviewed with a machine gun, since it seems to have been made with one..... The musical score is so ear-splatteringly atrocious [I guess that's why it was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Score. -Archivist] that getting through it without Q-Tips wil be one of the year's cinematic coups." Phantom made Reed's "10 Worst Movies of the Year" list (in which he also referred to Robert Altman as a "hack director", and listed The Parallax View and The Odessa File, along with Phantom, as among the year's least good).
 
 Rex Reed's review.
Long universally regarded as the know-nothing laughingstock of the critical establishment, "overly urbane" (that's a euphemism) gossip-hound Reed appeals principally to the same witless little-old-lady demographic as, a generation previously, swooned for Liberace. How seriously can anyone take a guy who was arrested for shoplifting Peggy Lee CD's, can't tell a chimpanzee from an orangutan, and who wrote, more recently, "And so I Heart Huckabees may not be the worst movie ever made, depending on how you feel about such hollow, juvenile and superficial trash as Brewster McCloud, Hudson Hawk, Punch-Drunk Love, Mulholland Drive, The Royal Tenenbaums, Lost Highway, Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind..."? Yeah, OK, he's right about Hudson Hawk, we'll give him that.
 
Vincent Canby's review in the New York Times wasn't a whole lot nicer. Canby, who wrote enthusiastically of most of De Palma's other films, just couldn't find it within himself to like Phantom very much. Canby wrote, "Mr. De Palma is a very funny man, as he has shown in marvelously eccentric comedies such as Greetings and Hi, Mom and even in his more conventional films, Get to Know Your Local [sic] Rabbit and Sisters. Compared with even the least of these, Phantom of the Paradise is an elaborate disaster, full of the kind of facetious humor you might find on bumper stickers and cocktail coasters." Canby did find it in his heart to appreciate the music, however: "Almost redeeming the movie is the rock score, by Mr. Williams, and the comic orchestrations that trace the evolution of rock from the duck-tailed, surfing nineteen-fifties and sixties to the seventies and the triumphant emergence of androgyny."
   
Phantom also received a mixed review from Pauline Kael in the New Yorker, who usually found a lot to like in De Palma's work, and is typically thought of as having been one of his early champions. Kael's piece, though only mostly positive, remains one of the most incisive and interesting writeups the film received. Said Kael, "De Palma loves the cliches for their shameless, rotten phoniness. The movies of the past haven't made him their innocent victim; rather, they have wised him up. He doesn't just reproduce grotesque old effects; his driving redeeming sense of humor cuts through the crap in movies at the same time that it cuts through the crap in the rock world. Few directors work in such a screwily personal way, but that sense of humor of his is like a disinfectant." Recognizing De Palma's talent and style, she despairs at what she considers his inability to simultaneously be conventional: " When he sticks to what he can do, he's got a great style, but he can't do the routine scenes that establish character relations and give a movie "heart"." We at the Archives suspect that the tremendous number of thirteen year old boys who saw Phoenix through Winslow's eyes and fell in love with her (including Tom Rothman, who eventually married her) would disagree.
   
 
Richard Schickel, who reviewed the film for Time Magazine, however, was entirely positive and remarkably incisive. Wrote Schickel, "Phantom of the Paradise is much more than a bundle of neat, often amusing analogies. De Palma has something richer - and more relevant - in mind than parodying a theatrical property he knows is too old and, in its way, too good for mere camp treatment. He has borrowed the plot as a vehicle to satirize the whole corrupt, pretentious and self-important world of pop culture...De Palma's axiom is that in popular culture, today's wow is tomorrow's cliche, and the next day's nostalgic treasure. The corollary is that our opinions in these matters are more often the product of cynical manipulators like Swan than of genuinely informed intelligence...The movie will be something of a downer for rock cultists who find that the real objects of De Palma's scornful (and occasionally too anarchical) satire are themselves and their false gods. Others will find Phantom of the Paradise a crazy, savage film - iconoclastic and truly liberating."
 
 
Daily Variety, the leading trade publication, whose reviews generally focused on box office potential over artistry, waxed positively as well: "The plot moves smartly along (a positive advantage of indie and low-budget production) which might not have happened if a major studio had been involved from the start, with good timing of music inserts (including some satirical back looks to early rock) building to the mass pandemonium of the final scenes."
 
 
A reviewer named Joan Waterfield, with the Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald, strikes us as having been remarkably perceptive. Waterfield apparently was so compelled to write about Phantom that she wrote and handed her review in for publication, knowing that, due to the press of deadlines and Phantom's short booking in her town, it would already have ended its run by the time her review was published. She presciently wrote, "Phantom of the Paradise...may become an object of interest for future film students. ...A campy compound of Psycho, Andy Warhol, "Alice in Wonderland" and "Faust", its greatest appeal is possibly to those who can view the rock scene with some objectivity. ... Shades of the current pretention of the rock world which has traveled down from what was gutty and exciting. Phantom is too heavy for the clean cut of satire, but it is funny and sick and slick, a bulls-eye on where rock is today." Ms. Waterfield died in 2003, at the age of 80, and it did not surprise us to learn that, in addition to her activities as a reviewer, she had had a remarkable career as a stage actress and director, and was for decades a fixture in and supporter of local theater and the arts in Lethbridge.
 
 
Richard Taylor, writing for the Alton (illinois) Telegraph, also had high praise: "Director Brian De Palma has done the impossible by turning that creaking old horror show, "Phantom of the Opera," into a funny, and often frightening, rock musical... The film scores a knock-out punch against today's record industry and manages to be immensely entertaining at the same time. ... Luckily, De Palma plays the horror for laughs, and he gets plenty. Winslow is just nutty enough for us to accept his steady physical disintegration without being repelled. Paul Williams, who also wrote the great musical score, is perfect as Swan. He seems so tiny and mild, yet projects evil with every expression. .... Williams' score, the color photography, the singing, choreography and performances and De Palma's fast-paced direction make the Phantom a real treat."
 
 
On the other hand, we have Dan Meyers, a staff writer for the Pasadena (California) Star News, who wrote, "Perhaps it is significant that no actors or production personnel are credited on the advertisements for Phantom of the Paradise. If you'd helped perpetrate this picture, you wouldn't want to be identified either."
 
 
In the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal, Scott Beaven, after extolling Phantom for its "ingenuity, wit and talent," gushed "Brian De Palma (wrote and directed) has a sense of humor that stretches the limits middle-aged, middle-class audiences will tolerate. It also makes fun of young people, who will tolerate anything but being told they are ignorant and, in their own glittery, stoned-out way, are every bit as sentimental and susceptible to cliches as their parents...It is an honestly enjoyable and often shatteringly funny way of spending a few hours; occasionally, it is nothing short of inspired..."
 
 
The Tucson (Arizona) Daily Citizen's reviewer, Micheline Keating, bemoaned the fact that only about 50 patrons had turned out for the show she attended, and wrote that Phantom is "a kind of rock pastiche that when it is good is very, very funny. Even when it isn't quite so good, it doesn't totally lose its satiric patina.... It deserves to click with the rock generation that inspired it and it should please the older audience that retains a feel for this sort of inspired nonsense. ... De Palma knows no limits in his borrowing. There is a hilarious take-off of Hugh Hefner's Playboy girl parties and an exaggerated Alice Cooper sequence that shatters the eardrums... it remains a very stylish funfest."
 
 
Bob Polunsky wrote for the San Antonio (Texas) Light (at a time when Phantom was playing simultaneously at one indoor theater and five drive-ins in San Antonio) that Phantom even exceeded "some of the excesses of Tommy...but the excesses aren't the same as in any movie done before. This one is a spoof. There's excitement and a suggestion of horror, but it's tongue-in-cheek. It puts the rock and roll age in perspective by satirizing it."
 
 
Under the headline, "Phantom of the Paradise is Brilliant Satire of Pop Culture", Doc Halliday (probably not his real name...) wrote for the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette that "with The Phantom of the Paradise, we have been given not only a brilliant satire of pop artists and promoters, but an engrossing horror story, plus an entertaining musical in the bargain... It is difficult to think of a film which is so sensitive and so cartoon-like at the same time. Writer-director Brian De Palma has done a brilliant job of adapting the film classic "Phantom of the Opera" to modern pop music... Paul Williams' music balances De Palma's work excellently. It is at once an accurate transcription of rock music, a helpful vehicle for story-telling, and just plain good music. ... All in all, The Phantom of the Paradise is a wonder to watch, listen to and enjoy."
 
 
Since 1974/75, when those reviews were written, retrospect and reevaluation have given the Phantom his revenge. On Rottentomatoes.com, an aggregator of (mostly recently written) reviews, as of this writing, the film enjoys a 94% "fresh" rating among critics and 84% with audiences.
 
 
Fox invested in a campaign promoting Phantom's music with Academy voters, and was rewarded with a nomination for Paul Williams and George Aliceson Tipton (who composed the incidental music), for Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation. (Nelson Riddle's score for The Great Gatsby won.)
 
 
Williams was also nominated for a Golden Globe for his score (losing to Lerner and Loewe for their work on The Little Prince; there's certainly no shame, though, in losing to the guys responsible for, among others, Camelot, My Fair Lady, and Gigi.)

Phantom was also nominated for the year's Best Horror Film by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, won the Grand Prize at France's Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival (as De Palma's Carrie would two years later); was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation at the Hugo Awards, and was nominated as Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen, by the Writers Guild of America.
 
Every now and then, someone creates a poster to promote a single screening, like this one, drawn by Tim Doyle for the Austin Film Society's 2009 showing of Phantom at the Alamo Drafthouse as part of their series on early De Palma. Doyle's work is gaining traction among poster collectors, and this one is particularly hard to obtain, as only fifty (each hand-signed and numbered by the artist) were printed, as well as a special run of ten copies made with glow in the dark inks. This scan doesn't really do the poster justice, as the printing is very high quality, with sparkly silver and grey inks. Some of Doyle's work (including his original pen-and-ink drawings for the Phantom poster) are available for purchase here.
Here's another one-timer: For Kino Klubb's screening in 2012, their resident postermaker Tara Hill created several differently tinted variations of this design, each in fewer than ten copies. They're hand-numbered in pencil in the lower-left corner. We think these are Things of Beauty. More about Tara Hill's work at http://kinoklubb.tumblr.com, and more on Kino Klubb at http://www.kinoklubb.com.
And here's the poster for the bonkers and truly insane once-in-a-lifetime (until, you know, they do it again or something) Phantom of the Paradise in 6D, put on by the loveable Baltimore Rock Opera Society, in 2011. We're hoping that someday they'll take on Dionysus in 6D9. See what I did there?
 
This truly beautiful poster was created by Justin Miller at Haunt Love Design, for a screening of Phantom on Valentine's Day (which also happens to be Paul Williams' wedding anniversary) at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA. Justin tells us that it's a 2 color screen print with a split fountain layer that fades from pink to green. Justin's work is mostly created in a combination of collage and photocopying images. For this Phantom poster, he collaged the face together out of different found images with some hand drawn elements to recreate Winslow's face, which he then photocopied, and then ripped apart the photocopies, to get the final look. Justin created 23 copies of this version (ours is #17) and only 5 of an edition done in metallic foil.
 
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