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Fox's Lethal Weapon will be a small screen take on a premise that was a major hit on the big screen. Detectives Riggs and Murtaugh will form an unconventional partnership as a former Navy SEAL looking to kickstart a new chapter in his life and a veteran cop looking to reduce stress in his life. We can expect all kinds of explosive cop shenanigans, too, but as it turns out, the new series will not be marketed too explosively to start off with. The ads, as far as posters and artwork, for Lethal Weapon won't actually feature any lethal weapons. Fox chairman Dana Walden had this to say about why guns will be left out of Lethal Weapon early advertising:
What we focus mostly on is that our shows not be gratuitously violent, that violence fits within the world of the storytelling and that overwhelmingly what we're doing feels like entertainment and not gratuitous or something that feels like a documentary. These are entertaining shows. We think about it a lot from the marketing side. Even the artwork you saw of Lethal Weapon, we're trying to focus on the characters, not on guns, or the violence, in the show. You have to hit a balance. They're trying to create stories that are relevant in this day and age and feel heightened and have life and death stakes and take place in a cop world or in the world of terrorism, it's hard to imagine that without any violence, so it's just trying to find the right balance.
Dana Walden shared Fox's strategy for leaving guns out of Lethal Weapon ads in a chat with EW, and it shows a promising awareness of the atmosphere in which the new series is making its debut. Recent tragedies related to gun violence have meant that consumers might be more inclined to tune into a show about characters than about violence. (Just look at USA's Shooter to understand how hard it is to sell a violent thriller these days.) The trailer indicates that the show will feature explosions and car chases and gunfire, but it will be about Murtaugh and Riggs. Guns could actually pull focus from the actors in any advertisements and mislead potential viewers about the content of the series.
Of course, Lethal Weapon has a certain built-in audience already, regardless of any ads. The film franchise that inspired the Fox series is beloved by many. Some will undoubtedly tune into the show for an episode or two just based on love of the movies. Others may consider a TV show sacrilege, but I'm still guessing that Lethal Weapon will get off to a strong ratings start on Fox. Plus, this is just how the network is handling the early marketing push. If there aren't any major national tragedies in the week or two before the next big trailer gets released, we'll probably see some weaponry getting flashed around.
Lethal Weapon likely won't be hurt by either the absence or presence of any lethal weapons in advertising. Even folks who have never seen a Lethal Weapon movie probably wouldn't be shocked to tune into the pilot and see the stars wielding guns. No one is going to expect that a modern show called Lethal Weapon is going to be filled with swordsmen. Fox doesn't need firearms to sell the series.
Tune into Fox on Wednesday, September 21 at 8 p.m. ET to catch the premiere of Lethal Weapon, and check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what else you'll be able to watch in the not-too-distant future.