It’s an easy enough mistake to make considering the crafty marketing tactics movies employ to get us to see them. Posters and trailers all too often underemphasise a movie’s real director – especially if they’re relatively new to the industry – while overemphasising a bigger, more recognisable name to get cinemagoers in seats.
In reality, however, those bigger names often have very little to do with the movie in question. Usually, they’re merely a producer or in the even more detached role of ‘presenter’ which basically means they’re lending their name to a movie for purely promotional purposes.
It’s a tad deceitful, but an undoubtedly successful marketing method...
10. The Orphanage
Who You Probably Thought Made It: Guillermo del Toro
Who Really Made It: J. A. Bayona
At first glance The Orphanage has all the hallmarks of a Guillermo del Toro movie – it’s a Spanish language film, it’s dark and gothic in tone and features a strong female protagonist. That, and the fact his name appeared in a huge font above the title on tonnes of The Orphanage’s promo posters kind of hinted that way too.
But The Orphanage was actually Barcelona-born director J.A. Bayona’s first feature length film. According to Bayona, he’d first met the Mexican auteur in the early 90s and after witnessing the young filmmaker’s passion and talent del Toro had promised to help him in his future film career should he be in a powerful enough position to do so.
That moment came after the huge success of the 2006 dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth and thus del Toro – now a highly bankable name – took on the roles of executive producer and presenter of The Orphanage which became a huge success itself. That’s not to say The Orphanage wasn’t already a brilliant film, but the addition of del Toro’s name no doubt helped it succeed.
Since then del Toro has also lent his name and producing talents to other first-time directors’ movies including Andy Muschietti’s Mama and Troy Nixey’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, although we shouldn’t give him too much flak.
He’s giving exposure to some fantastic filmmakers and it seems he has some principles when it comes to the ‘Guillermo del Toro presents’ brand, stating “I only do it when I fully believe I was involved in the product in a way that is meaningful.”