M*A*S*H-ish 4: MASH (1970) Pressbook

When the movie MASH debuted in January 1970, it was an unlikely hit in the midst of the Vietnam War. Add that MASH was a comedy, and it seemed even more crass than a film about war at the time. While the movie was about the Korean War, the anti-war commentary was just as applicable in 1970 in the United States. A movie that mixed the horrors of war with comedy (something the television series M*A*S*H would later do) proved to attract audiences. The Robert Altman film went on to be very successful at the box office. A lot of that success was due in part to a successful advertising campaign and taking advantage of widely read publications. This Pressbook is an example of what 20th Century-Fox sent out to promote the film and the material that they provided publications.

This Pressbook would have been sent to media organizations to advertise the film. The inside cover includes a cast list, production staff list, and synopsis of the film. The first page includes a prewritten press article with blanks to fill in with opening dates and the name of the local theatre. The rest of the kit includes advertisements of various size and shape to be used in the publication. At the back, there are ways to order more materials and posters. The studio did all of the hard work for the publications in hopes they would use the material and advertise the movie.

What strikes me most about this press kit is the simplicity. Today, we see press kits that include DVDs, t-shirts, gift bags, and various other swag items. In 1969 and early 1970, 20th Century-Fox just needed to get the word out about MASH since it was a fairly low budget production. Nothing fancy was needed. Of course, the movie did well and spawned one of the most successful television series in history. The film has become a classic along side the series despite the difference in tone in each. The publicity clearly worked as MASH was successful at the box office rounding out 1970 in the top 5.

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