The summer movie that needed the MTV Movie Awards the least got the biggest boost when the annual telecast aired live from the Gibson Amphitheatre on Sunday night.
The principals from "The Dark Knight Rises," a near-certain blockbuster when it hits U.S. theaters on July 20, made the franchise's first appearance at the cable network's annual movie-marketing bazaar.
Though the shrill show was something of an odd fit for the serious superhero film -- director Christopher Nolan intoned that "every great story demands a great ending" while star Christian Bale teared up over the death of Heath Ledger -- the presentation of new footage from the Batman picture scored hugely positive reactions in the room and on social media.
The awards handed out by the cable network are generally seen as little more than a coronation of what's popular; indeed, "The Hunger Games" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" were among the big winners Sunday. But the reaction to the many pitches, both at the show and during commercial breaks, can be a useful barometer for the coming months at the multiplex, while the pitches themselves are an important tool for movies seeking an edge in a crowded summer marketplace.
Besides "Dark Knight," the movie perhaps getting the biggest boost was "Magic Mike," the Channing Tatum-Matthew McConaughey exotic-dancer story that will be released June 29. The two stars garnered a huge reaction from the room when they turned out to present the award for "Best Transformation," with the decibel level only rising when costar Joe Manganiello came out and did a striptease in which he simulated a sex act with an ax.
Not every movie was so blessed.
A bit featuring Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester for their June 15 R-rated arrested-development comedy "That's My Boy" fell flat, raising questions about a movie that is already perceived as freighted with commercial challenges.
And though buzz is running high for "Ted," Seth MacFarlane's June 29 stuffed-animal comedy, stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis didn't do the movie any favors with an awkward segment near the top of the show.
Mentions or appearances from stars of "Prometheus," "Rock of Ages" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" -- which hits U.S. theaters Friday, June 15 and July 3, respectively -- seemed to do little harm to the films but failed to significantly elevate or transform their profiles, either.
MTV heavily touted a new trailer for "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," the high-school dramedy starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson. Though Watson was ubiquitous at the show, the movie did not seem to emerge with a lot more awareness than it had coming in.
The awards were also marked by who wasn't there: some of the biggest stars and winners, including "The Hunger Games" pinup Jennifer Lawrence, "Harry Potter" heartthrob Daniel Radcliffe and "Twilight" megastar Rob Pattinson, prompting Kristen Stewart to (attempt to) make out with herself while accepting a "Best Kiss" prize.
Sometimes. though, less can be more at the MTV Movie Awards.
Katy Perry wasn't visible at the show, perhaps not surprising as her ex, Russell Brand, emceed from the stage. But a stream of commercials for the singer's July 5 documentary, "Katy Perry: Part of Me," combined with an awkward-landing Brand joke about his seeking a new wife, seemed only to boost the stock of the pop star and her upcoming movie.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Christian Bale, left, and Christopher Nolan of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the MTV Movie Awards podium. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images