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Sony Pictures apologizes for sidewalk graffiti ads for 'Angels & Demons'

May 22, 2009 |  2:24 pm

Has Sony Pictures defaced public property by spray-painting stencil ads of its new movie "Angels & Demons" on the sidewalks of L.A. and Hollywood?

Yes -- but it's only temporary. 

As part of its marketing campaign to lure potential moviegoers to director Ron Howard's new "Da Vinci Code" follow-up film starring Tom Hanks, Sony hired an outside marketing firm to graffiti the film's title on the sidewalks of Los Angeles.

Although such graffiti-like ads aren't new to Hollywood's movie marketers, not everyone thinks it's cool.

"Marketers will do anything in this country to get your attention even if it's obnoxious and disrespectful," says Paul Lopez, a 28-year-old freelance writer and musician who came across one of the stenciled ads on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile district of L.A.

"This is marketing at its very lowest," added Lopez, who said he once worked in marketing (but not in Hollywood). "The idea is to make money at any cost."

Well, we have some good news for Lopez or anyone else who might have been offended by the ads.

Sony says the outside agency it hired to do the handiwork used biodegradable chalk that is "completely removable." Not only that, the studio also says it instructed the vendor to "clean any locations where remnants of the chalk still exist."

And, Paul, Sony wants to assure you that it's taking your concerns to heart and is offering both an apology and a promise that it won't tag again for the sake of hawking its movies.

"We regret any misunderstanding this may have caused and this activity will not occur in the future in connection with the release of any of our motion pictures," Sony spokesman Steve Elzer said in a  statement sent to The Times.

Elzer wouldn't say how many sidewalk ads Sony had painted and whether they appeared in any other city.

Lopez says that though he feels better knowing the graffiti can be washed away, he still resents "being bombarded" with ads under his feet.

"It makes me not want to see the movie," Lopez said.

Too bad. Sony could use his business. The movie to date in the U.S. has sold only about $60 million in tickets during its first week. The movie is doing better overseas, where it grossed more than $100 million on its opening weekend, but is still trailing significantly behind its predecessor.

-- Claudia Eller