It's a delicious conspiracy theory, isn't it? We imagine a smoky back room, filled with studio execs. They take a look at the final cut of Dark of the Moon, wail and moan as their eyes bleed out of their sockets, and then decide to market the whole mess by trashing franchise refugee Megan Fox.
So is this what happened? I asked around:
Yes, by many accounts, this is not a good movie, even by blockbuster-sequel standards. It bows this week—but it's gotten a stinky 39 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. CNN is calling it "lousy," Rolling Stone warns that viewers run the risk of "dying a little inside," and my buddy Garth Franklin at Dark Horizons went so far as to say that watching the film was like "being urinated upon." The biggest complaint: that despite all the exploding robots, the story is just empty. There is no there, there.
Still, it's unlikely that the studio behind the film orchestrated its marketing campaign around trashing Megan Fox. Publicists are evil, but they're not, I am told, that evil.
"I think that it's a little too much of a conspiracy theory," posits Rachel Hill, a former personal publicist and the current director of marketing at American World Pictures, which is about to shoot a new Danny Glover film.
"I doubt that anything like that would be formally approved by any studio," Scott Donaton of the marketing group Ensemble agrees.
That said, don't be shocked if the movie's principle star, Shia LaBeouf, did think through his Fox-trashing in advance, Hill says.
"Did Shia have to answer those questions about him and Megan Fox?" Hill notes. "Was it necessary? Maybe he did it to raise his profile a bit.
"I've had clients in the past who, when scandals have come out, we didn't deny things. In fact we kept the scandal going because it kept our clients in the public eye."
Now that's a fun conspiracy theory.