If you happen to be in Chicago tonight, and you want a lesson in creepy-yet-compelling promotional marketing, you could do worse than dropping by Navy Pier to see V For Vendetta in its midnight opening at the IMAX Theater. It looks terrific on the IMAX screen – I watched it there last night, and it's an intense experience. But more to the point… the promoters have organized a contest to gear people up for the movie. Anyone willing to have their heads shaved by salon personnel before tonight's show, "like Natalie Portman in the film," will be eligible for prizes, including a $150 grand payoff.
Given the horrifying circumstances under which Portman's character gets shaved, and what she goes through emotionally as it's happening, this is deeply weird and more than a little disturbing. But if it flies, perhaps other theaters can borrow the concept and throw contests where, say, viewers win cash and other prizes by having their fingernails ripped out before showings of Syriana, or enduring botched gender-reassignment surgery before Hedwig And The Angry Inch.
(Also, is it just me, or does the guy shaving Portman's head in this publicity photo look like a deranged Dan Aykroyd?)