It's billed as a preview of Beyonce and Jay Z's upcoming North American tour, but could it be a showreel designed to tout their acting talents to Hollywood moguls? Or maybe it's just one of the greatest vanity projects of our time.
The entertainment world's richest couple have shown off their style, sense of humour and mind-boggling power with a slick, blockbuster-style trailer for a fake film called Run (WARNING: this link contains graphic content), starring as high-end bank robbers. It has already racked up nearly two million views on YouTube.
The couple's 16-city joint tour of the US and Canada, On The Run, kicks off on June 15. They are expected to play to crowds of between 40,000 and 100,000 people per show. It will be the first time they have toured together, but the new clip is not the first time they have cast themselves in Bonnie and Clyde-type roles. In 2002, they played an outlaw couple in Jay Z's song '03 Bonnie & Clyde.
According to Forbes, the pair were the highest-earning celebrities of the 2012-13 financial year and the website celebritynetworth.com estimated they were worth a combined $900 million as of March 2014.
The Run trailer, made by Melina Matsoukas (the Grammy-award winning director of the couple's We Found Love video clip), features an array of Hollywood A-listers including Sean Penn, Blake Lively, Jake Gyllenhaal and Don Cheadle. At three minutes and 44 seconds, it's at least a minute longer than the preview clips made for the biggest films in Hollywood.
It opens with a rapid fire montage of guns, girls and cash before we see Jay Z hunched over a table with Penn's character saying cryptically: "I remember this one time you said to me when the sh-t gets bigger than the cat, get rid of the cat. I didn't know what the f--- you was talklin' about." The next three minutes feature (a lot) more guns, girls, thick wads of cash, helicopters, explosions and police firing at, and missing, Beyonce. In one shot, Queen Bey floats on her back in a pool while $100 bills rain down on her.
In the funniest and most telling scene, Cheadle asks Jay Z: "Are you hustling me? What's goin' on is you coming in here disrespectin' me [sic]". Jay Z replies: Unless you prepared to do something don't ask me no questions [sic]." It's huge fun, but it could be a metaphor for Beyonce and Jay Z's power - don't question it.
Beyonce gets to show off her acting chops too, in a scene where Lively asks "what's goin on?". Beyonce: "You know what." "That's not you," Lively says sympathetically. Beyonce shakes her head saying, "You don't know who I am any more." Lively: "What happens when it hits the fan?". Beyonce (choking back tears): "I love him".
The clip clearly shows a fun side to the couple which isn't always apparent, but as much as that, it's a clear illustration of just how wealthy and powerful Beyonce and Jay Z really are. Their On The Run tour sold out in minutes: they didn't need to make the clip, which looks like it cost many millions.
So why make it? Because it would be a laugh, in the same way some of us might make a home movie with friends or family to celebrate a milestone, albeit with a somewhat smaller budget? Definitely. Because they could? You bet. To remind the music - and movie - worlds how planetary in size they are? Whether they intended it that way, that's exactly how it will be remembered.
- FFX Aus