Think Like A Man: Does Controversy Help Sell Movie Tickets?

Think Like A Man movie poster. Screenplay based on the controversial book written by Steve Harvey, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man". Photo courtesy of official site for the movie.

There has been a lot of discussion about the comedic relationship movie, “Think Like a Man”, a screenplay based on the book by Steve Harvey titled, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”.  Debates between single women and men, relationship counselors and speakers, all attempting to voice their opinion on whether Harvey is qualified to write such a book or if the advice was sound.   Whether or not readers will find the answer to what makes a man tick or a woman from falling for the wrong ones, is not why everyone will go to see the movie.

Sure having an all-star cast is a good thing, especially when you have a comedian like Kevin Hart involved.  But even with a dynamic group of well-known actors, would it have been a movie of great interest if it were not for the debates over the book?

Most movies companies grow a cult following before a movie is released to the theaters.  The discussions and anticipation for the film is what moves people to fill seats.  There is no doubt Sony and Steve Harvey took advantage of his large radio audience to promote the movie.  But can we say that would be the top reason for its box office numbers?  One simply cannot ignore the obvious heated discussions over the book and how it has added fuel to people wanting to see the film.  With that said, what is the real driving factor for the film’s box office numbers?

The Dictator, a movie starring Sacha Baron Cohen, has been on a six plus month marketing train.  Cohen has popped up at many events in character, stirring up the anticipation of what his character will bring to the screen.  So he’s gone on a few interviews in character and film spoilers were released.  But would the film’s promotional train still have momentum for a film which will not even release until Summer 2012 if Cohen hadn’t powdered Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet?  If the Academy hadn’t publicly informed Cohen to not appear in costume to this year’s awards ceremony?

And what about “Bully”?  The MPAA rating debate which caused the movie to be re-cut to fit PG-13 status in order for kids to be able to go and view it without an adult present?  Kids were left wondering, what all the buzz was about over this film.  

There is something about controversy that stirs people’s curiosity.  Being involved in hot topics excites many people.  It’s not being stated that Think Like a Man and Bully producers purposely struck nerves as part of the marketing plan.  But something can be said for the benefits of a little bit of controversy being good for business when attempting to get your product in front of the masses.

What about you?  Has the debatable excitement of a film or product ever drawn you in before?  If so, please share which one(s).