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Pricey tropical junket seems to have paid off for ‘Couples Retreat’

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One of the keys to the strong $35.3-million opening of ‘Couples Retreat’ was that oldest of Hollywood marketing ploys: the glitzy media junket.

Universal flew dozens of journalists to Bora Bora for interviews with the cast in the same tropical setting where the film took place. As described by writer James Rocchi on MSN, the all-expenses-paid trip also included activities such as watching sharks and feeding stingrays.

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Costly junkets used to be common in Hollywood as a way to generate tons of publicity. One of the most lavish examples was a $5-million-plus bash that Disney held for ‘Pearl Harbor’ in 2001. Such lavish events are far less common in Hollywood today, as cost-conscious studios are not only cutting back on expenses, but also trying to avoid ostentatious signs of overspending. Modern-day junkets are usually in hotels, with cheap plastic backdrops built for on-camera interviews

However, Universal decided that lush tropical backgrounds were just what the PR doctor ordered for ‘Couples Retreat.’ A concerted publicity effort may have seemed particularly wise this week since there were no other new movies in wide release, leaving stars including Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love and Malin Akerman as the only fresh faces for national entertainment media.

One source close to the film said the studio spent twice as much as it normally does on the ‘Couples Retreat’ junket. The extra money was taken from spending that typically would have gone to other advertising and publicity.

The source felt confident that the investment was worth it, noting that the ‘Couples Retreat’ junket generated around 10 times as much media coverage as such events typically do.

-- Ben Fritz


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