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Good Doctor HST
08-03-2006, 05:43 PM
Published on Wednesday, August 2, 2006 by Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/)

"War Is Over" Billboards Promote Lennon Film

by Nicole Sperling

LOS ANGELES - In an effort to tap into anti-war sentiment, billboards will appear in New York and Los Angeles this month declaring "War Is Over! If You Want It." The statement is not so much political as commercial: independent film distributor Lionsgate is using them to promote its documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," set to open September 15 in both cities.

A fan holds up a picture of John Lennon at a candlelight vigil on the 25th anniversary of Lennon's death at Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York City, December 8, 2005. In an effort to tap into anti-war sentiment, billboards will appear in New York and Los Angeles this month declaring "War Is Over! If You Want It." REUTERS/Peter Foley

The billboards are a reproduction of those created and posted by Lennon and wife Yoko Ono in 11 cities in 1969 as a protest against the Vietnam War.

The documentary from filmmakers David Leaf and John Scheinfeld is a chronicle of Lennon's transformation from musician to anti-war activist and how the U.S. government sought to silence him, in the view of the filmmakers. Leaf, Scheinfeld and Lionsgate marketing executives spent a lot of time with Ono preparing the campaign.

"It's unfortunate that the world is at war" again, Leaf said. "I think a story about John Lennon, who was fearless in his campaign for peace, is particularly relevant in a time when fear seems to rule."

Lionsgate co-president of theatrical marketing Tim Palen said he was so impressed by Lennon and Ono's artistic vision and activism that he decided "the smartest thing we could do would be to borrow their ideas directly for the campaign."

That meant reproducing the billboards as close to the original as possible. "We tried to use the same font and same spacing as the originals, so not to take any liberty with their art form," Palen added. "Even though it's white on black and most people see it as generic, the brilliance is in its simplicity, and we wanted it to be as exact as possible in the details."

The New York billboard will be unveiled Wednesday on Seventh Avenue at 10th Street in the West Village, and the Los Angeles billboard will bow August 15 on Sunset Boulevard near Cory Avenue in West Hollywood. The one difference to the original billboard is that the Web address www.joinnutopia.com (http://www.joinnutopia.com/) will appear at the bottom. The link is for a site Lionsgate created to highlight the conceptual country Nutopia, which Lennon and Ono created when the government tried to deport him.

Nutopia, according to Lennon and Ono, has "no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people." Visitors to the site can obtain citizenship and download the official Nutopia flag.

Another component to the campaign is the Grudge Report at http://www.theusversusjohnlennon.com (http://www.theusversusjohnlennon.com/). A play on the well-read Drudge Report, the Lionsgate site features links to Web sites presenting information relevant to the film.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited