Full spoilers for Parasite. This article also contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
UK distributor Curzon deservedly made bank after winning the distribution rights to Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite. Much as no one that could have definitively predicted it’s deserved Best Picture win It supercharged the films UK box office to make it the highest grossing foreign language film in UK history. There were plans to release the Black and White edition theatrically following its UK premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival but the closure of cinemas thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic put pay to that. Now with cinema starting to reopen Curzon are going to try again Launching a specific marketing campaign for the release of this edition which is coming to select cinemas and Curzon Home Cinema on July 24th. The announcement of the release brought with it some new key art that Curzon released which will be this featured image posted along with this article.
The image itself is incredibly striking but should they have put the shadowy figure on the poster that effectively implies or outright spoils depending on who you ask the films big twist. The decision in the marketing department clearly was that they were targeting this release at viewers who were already familiar with the theatrical version and trying to sell them an alternative experience. This is fine in a certain way and the type strategy that film marketers have used since the inception of alternative cuts/editions of various films there is but this alternative edition might be a potential viewer first experience of the film. When I saw the premiere of the Black and White edition, I did come across audience members for whom this edition represented their first watch. Imagine this was the case for a regular viewer but they had seen this poster beforehand thus knowing about the additional people in the Park house beyond those established in the first act of the film. it would be the equivalent of the Avengers Endgame theatrical re-release having specific marketing material that spoils Iron Man’s death. Regardless of how successful the original edition of any film was this is something that should not be done in marketing generally and represents spoiler culture at its absolute worst.
As for the black and white edition itself it’s an interesting experiment. Its style fits somewhere between trying to mimic a traditional black and white aesthetic and the more stylised look of Mad Max: Fury Road: Black and Chrome. There are elements of the film where the presentation does enhance the atmosphere and themes especially in giving the Park house an even more alien quality then the theatrical version. That said the black and white makes segments like the birthday massacre or the Park-De-Song painting gags have the effectiveness significantly dulled overall it’s an intriguing alternative version but something that’s only worth recommending if a viewer has seen the theatrical version first.
it’s also worth noting that Curzon have made the black and white version available on Blu Ray but exclusively in the two-disc Steelbook edition that is out of print and may be fetching collectors’ prices depending on when you are reading this. Perhaps the theatrical/VOD release push for the black and white edition would have worked better if it wasn’t already available on the UK market (if a viewer is willing to pay the prices sellers ask for on the secondary market.)
It’s good to see Curzon giving the black and white edition of this masterpiece a marketing push and release that spotlights it separately from the theatrical version. That said its marketing was clearly targeted exclusively at fans of the film and not potential first-time viewers which seems to be why they thought they could get away with putting a massive spoiler on the poster. This won’t matter to existing fans but you have to consider with every alternative edition of a film released that this could be any potential viewers first viewing and the poster spoils one of the best twists in recent film history. It’s indicative of a general problem around spoiler culture in film and media marketing and criticism. Nevertheless, the black and white edition is definitely an interesting experience that’s worth checking out as an addition to the existing theatrical version.
Parasite: Black and White Edition is released in select cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema July 24th.