Friday, April 3, 2009



OK, so maybe you didn't get many comments about "Adventureland" this weekend, after all. The film performed below expectations for its opening weekend, earning less than $6 million in the United States. Here's what BoxOfficeMojo had to say:

The weekend's other new nationwide release, Adventureland, was a non-starter with an estimated $6 million at 1,862 locations. The comedy's advertising pushed the fact that it was from the director of Superbad, yet the television spots focused mostly on nondescript juvenile gags.


There's a movie opening today, "Adventureland," that's set in our industry—more specifically, an amusement park. Despite the popularity of our attractions, using a park as the backdrop for a film is somewhat of a rarity in Hollywood, so that makes this project somewhat unusual.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to portray working in our business in the most positive light, at least from what I can glean from the tagline—"It was the worst job they ever imagined … and the best time of their lives"—and the trailer:

Not very flattering, huh? As part of this industry, you may hear some snarky comments from friends based on "Adventureland," but I wouldn't sweat it. The important thing to remember here is this movie could have been set anywhere, in any type of business.

It was written and directed by Greg Mottola, who made his name in 2007 with another raunchy coming-of-age story, "Superbad." Though Mottola took his inspiration from an actual job he had at an amusement park in the summer of 1984, according to this article in Newsday, the filmmaker incorporates a number of "bad job" stories into "Adventureland" and merely uses the park as the backdrop. And, as always, don't judge a movie by its trailer; the Newsday piece goes on to call the film "a gently satirical, ultimately affectionate portrait of a park and its people."

Mottola clearly has no love for the attractions industry, but that doesn't mean you can't use this as an opportunity to share your love for our business. If anyone asks me about "Adventureland," I can tell them a ton of stories about great things that have happened to me while I was in a park. My friend and colleague, Keith Miller (FUNWORLD's news editor) just wrote about this same idea in last month's issue.

Since coming to IAAPA, I've met any number of current and former park employees who still think back on their time on the job with pride and joy. For instance: On a recent trip to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, I hung around for the nightly fireworks show, then wandered into a souvenir shop on Main Street on my way out. The place was just mobbed, and I mentioned as much to one of the ladies working the register. Her response: "Oh, I don't mind. I love it here." Online enthusiast message boards are full of stories like that, too.

And let's not forget: In this year's troubled economy, amusement parks are being FLOODED with thousands of applications for these supposed "worst job they ever imagined." For many people, working in our business is the exact opposite—literally a dream opportunity.

So, I'm taking the "any publicity is good publicity" approach to "Adventureland." If you'd like some more information on the film, here's an article we published last year in FUNWORLD about what it was like for Kennywood in Pennsylvania to host the film crew during the five-week shoot; it includes an important feature: "11 Tips for Parks Thinking of Working with Hollywood." There's also this article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review with a Kennywood perspective on the whole affair.

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