2 July 2008 7:00 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Last weekend, like a lot of other moviegoers, Steve Martin's Inspector Clouseau lined up to buy a ticket to "Wall-e." He struggled several times to pronounce "I would like a ticket for 'Wall-e' " only to learn that the show was sold out. Undaunted, the intrepid inspector snuck into the theater, where he inadvertently sliced his way through the movie screen before tiptoeing offstage.

Martin's filmed appearance in front of screenings of "Wall-e" was part of an unusual customized teaser trailer for "The Pink Panther 2," the MGM/Columbia production that Sony is releasing Feb. 6. In a variation of the same trailer that appeared last month, Clouseau similarly mangled the pronunciation of "Kung Fu Panda."

When it began planning the campaign, the Sony team, headed by creative advertising executive Loren Schwartz, knew it wanted to do a special shoot rather than just cull footage from the upcoming film. For 2006's "Pink Panther," Martin had done a special PSA urging theatergoers to turn off their cell phones.

The revived "Panther" has turned into a family-friendly franchise; thanks in part to a PG rating, the last film grossed $82 million domestically.

"So we wanted to get up early in the summer with strong kids titles because we wanted to position this one even more strongly as a family film than the last one," said Valerie Van Galder, co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing at Sony.

Although "Panther" had completed filming, "Steve was excited about the idea," Van Galder said. He and producer Robert Simonds immediately starting rewriting the storyboards. Harald Zwart, the film's director, helmed the shoot a little more than a week before "Panda's" opening, working with Steve Pollard of Workshop Creative. »

- By Gregg Kilday

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