Film Studios Marketing Tactics: Part 2

29 Aug

2nd article in our 7- week series on Film Studios Marketing Tactics

The first article in this series we focused on the ways studios market films. For the second part we’ll be looking at a few films that had very successful promotion campaigns and one that didn’t!

Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project was probably the first film to use the internet for most of its marketing successfully. [1] Released in 1999, the studio created a website to blur the lines of fiction and reality. The site is still up (click here to see it) and features fake police reports, interviews and evidence. The creators had discussed what scared them when they were younger (aliens and other myths and legends) and discovered what made them scary was the possibility that they could be real [2]. So they decided to use the internet to create a myth and it worked. People believed it was real; it made nearly $250 million worldwide and created a new, popular and very successful marketing technique!

 The Dark Knight

In 2007, several fake websites were created and audience participation to promote the second film in the new Batman reboot. The first was a website for Harvey Dent, the district attorney and featured his political campaign. A second site was created to allow fans to send emails which would slowly remove pixels to reveal an image of the Joker then a message which said “see you in December.” During that year’s Comic Con a third website was launched using the films tag, why so serious, which at first revealed a new Joker photo (after fans participated in a scavenger hunt). A larger scavenger hunt took place throughout the USA, which unlocked another photo of the Joke and a sound clip. Today, the site has information about Gotham City. It also led to another website, Rory’s death kiss, where fans were encouraged to send in photos of themselves dressed as the Joker which lead them to a fifth website, the fictional newspaper for Gotham City, The Gotham Times. Scenes from the film were also shown at selected cinemas before the movie I am legend was shown and on the Blu-ray DVD of Batman Begins (the previous Batman film) which was released six days before the film opened. It grossed over $1 billion dollars worldwide. [3]


Inception also followed the fictional websites with audience participation too. A fake manual of the device used in the film was sent “anonymously” to Wired magazine which was posted online for people to solve its origin. [4] A QR code (featured on various posters) sent people to another device manual. [5] Also a four level game called Mind Crime was created. Upon the completion of each level promotional items were revealed e.g. a poster or a trailer. The movie grossed $825 million dollars worldwide.

 Snakes on a Plane

Although this 2006 film gained mixed reviews and brought in $62 million the producers consider it a flop. [6] The name of the movie inspired people to make their own version and trailers (see here and here for examples) before the film was made. [7] [8] The producers saw the chatter and also encouraged the creativity.  After it was completed, it was decided that reshoots were needed to incorporate some of the public’s ideas. Fans could also call a number which featured the star of the film, Samuel L. Jackson urging people to go see the film. Unfortunately the internet hype failed to cross over into ticket sales.

Also see: Film Studio Marketing Tactics: Part -1

Please join us for a discussion Thursday 8/30/2012@7pmE/12UTC










54 Responses to “Film Studios Marketing Tactics: Part 2”

  1. Comic Relief August 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM #

    Poor (in this scenario) Samuel; the next time we talk about this subject in a series maybe we will talk about marketing actors. Then he will likely be at the top of the list. I think he’s still the highest paid actor in Hollywood, and I imagine even poor stunts (like this one) helped him get there.

    • littlebells August 29, 2012 at 2:26 PM #

      I love this man. 🙂

    • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 7:41 PM #


  2. Comic Relief August 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM #

    Cool article Ozzie.

    • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 7:03 PM #

      I like the way the references for “Ba tman Begins” try to bring you into the psychology of the Joker before you see the movie. The film was extremely successful and it’s sequel was even more successful. Has anyone tried to do a study to determine how these marketing stunts affect overall box office?

      • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 7:16 PM #

        After a quick look around, I haven’t found any study like that. I’ll keep looking though.

        • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 7:26 PM #

          Don’t bother the movie sold boat loads.

  3. littlebells August 29, 2012 at 2:27 PM #

    Excellent article Ozzie. I am obviously not very tech savvy when it comes to knowing how many different blogs/game sites/movie sites there are for fans of films. I’m old school I guess.

    • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 7:19 PM #

      It’s not just you LB. I knew a little about it but was surprised to see it so widely used!

  4. Open Book August 30, 2012 at 12:30 PM #

    hahahaha! I like Badgers on a plane. That was funny Ozzie!

    “The Blair Witch Project” had a smart campaign.

    Ozzie-Did the “Book of Shadows/Blair Witch: 2” marketing campaign do as well as the first?

    • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 7:33 PM #

      The second movie did not do as well. The studio messed the whole thing up. They brought in a new director, the original creators were given executive producer roles but they had very little say. It was filmed normally and used very little “point of view” footage. It wasn’t marketed as a true story this time but it did have material created to make it look that way (which is odd in my opinion! Was it true or not, make your minds up, lol!). Over all it made $47 million.

      • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:38 PM #

        Ouch! That’s a hard pill to swallow. So more money spent equals less money earned. Hmm!Does money make studios less creative?

  5. Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 6:36 PM #

    I loved the way ‘Prometheus” used multiple trailers using scenes, scenarios and events, THAT DID NOT OCCUR IN THE MOVIE!!!!! I thought it was interesting because he extended the story and encouraged viewership at the same time. Of course you had to go the movie to find what occured and what did not.

    • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 7:36 PM #

      I loved Prometheus’ promo! I wanted to put it in but unfortunately we’ve discussed it before. I’m trying to resist the urge to find the “TED” clip though, lol!

      • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 7:38 PM #

        It’s just above your comment.

      • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:47 PM #

        I like the fight scene in TED.

        • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:58 PM #

          Sorry Ozzie! U were trying to avoid talking about TED.

          • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 8:16 PM #

            I could be wrong I thought she was talking about the one from Prometheus.

            • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 8:19 PM #

              Oh! See don’t mind me. I’m in my own little world here. But u know this is so stupid this fight scene it’s funny. How painful could a teddy bear fist be?

          • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 8:17 PM #

            I can’t wait till that comes out on dvd, lmao! Thanks for posting it anyway. It’s going to be on repeat for a while!

  6. ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 7:08 PM #

    Hi everyone! 🙂

  7. Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:09 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

  8. Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:15 PM #


    Given u wrote this wonderful article. Did any film studio campaigns stand out to u more than others? Trailers are so important but can easily be overlooked in a sea of other big money film campaigns. How do independent trailers stand out?

    • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

      I think The Blair Witch Project was the best (which is why I had to include it, lol). It was the first to use the internet to promote it. Plus it an independent film (I think the creators had just finished university too. I’ll have to look it up as I’ve forgotten) and it pulled in block buster money. I don’t remember any “point of view” style movies before so that would make the trailer stand out.

      I’m trying to think of other independent trailers I’ve seen before, which is hard because I’m in slow mode at the moment, lol! I think the ones I’ve seen have always seemed more direct and have a certain je ne sais quoi compared to mainstream films. Maybe that’s because they have little time and money to make an impact.

      • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 8:13 PM #

        In other words the more money the less creative people become. Why is that?

        • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 8:26 PM #

          Maybe because they found a way that sells and they don’t want to change it in case it fails. If we have cookie cutter films why not cookie cutter trailers! These are just guesses (and very layman guesses too, lol!). Both are creative enough to get me to see films.

  9. Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:17 PM #

    Wow! I never saw this trailer CR? Where did u find this one?

    • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 7:24 PM #

      You know research. You saw at least one of them. By my count there were at least 4.

      • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

        U might find this interesting.

        • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 8:13 PM #

          They have fight club in that list too. That was going to be my other failed promotion but couldn’t find the back up info (although thinking about it now I may have been using the wrong words to serch for it. Doh!). Apparently, David Fincher fought alot with the producers (on many aspects, promotion just being one of them) and they were blamed for the poor box office sales in the USA.

          • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 8:21 PM #


            In support of your point…

            • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 8:29 PM #

              Bwahahahahahahahaha! Love it!

          • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 8:23 PM #

            Yeah! I saw that about Fight Club. What is the moral of that story? Find producers who are visual people?

            • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

              How about listening to all suggestion and considering them instead of being so bull headed?

      • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

        I’ve only seen three out of 4. I guess the one up top would be #4.

        • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 7:44 PM #

          Some videos showed up some didn’t. They are all referenced in my comment. Two only as links.

  10. Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 7:28 PM #

    The Dream-Share Manual for Inception was really cool. Everyone please choose “see all.” at the bottom to see the full book. Nolan is a genius but I don’t think allowing an internet audience the ability to snark before the movie was wise.

    Does anyone agree?

    I still loved the movie. I wish I knew about this viral campaign before the movie premiered.

    • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

      The PASIV device is also very cool. I did not realize I saw it in the movie.

    • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

      I loved the manuals and didn’t know about them till now too! I agree allowing the snark before the movie. I think that was the problem with Snakes on a Plane. Normally parodies come out after the film has been released. Allowing it to happen before and then not having the goods to back it up was the failure. Fortunately Inception did!

      • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

        I just looked at the manuals too. Wow! That is so cool and creative.

  11. parisienne August 30, 2012 at 7:46 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    I was going to post this video on my article but I will post it here instead.

  12. parisienne August 30, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

    The vid has to do with how our brains work in regards to memory and how movies can alter your perception.

    • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:51 PM #

      Hi Paris!

      Very interesting. Let me watch.

    • Open Book August 30, 2012 at 7:57 PM #

      I could not get the video Paris put up to play. Here’s another link.

    • Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 8:11 PM #


      That was incredible. Just my opinion; but I think his version of the rocket blast off was cleaner than the original.

      I saw a lot more dirty black smoke in the beginning of the original.
      Again; just my opinion.

      Thanks for the TED video.

      • parisienne August 30, 2012 at 8:21 PM #

        Its my pleasure! I found it posted on another site.

  13. parisienne August 30, 2012 at 8:22 PM #


    I have to go for the evening. It was great talking with all of you!

  14. Open Book August 30, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

    Goodnight Paris!

    Thanks for the great video.

    • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

      Bye Paris! Thanks for coming. 🙂

  15. Open Book August 30, 2012 at 8:32 PM #


    I have to go. I will come back later and comment as well. Great article and references Oz!I learned a lot.


    • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 8:33 PM #

      Bye OB! I’m still repeat watching the Ted fight scene! 🙂

  16. Comic Relief August 30, 2012 at 8:37 PM #


    this was really fantastic. I have to go. Thanks a lot.

    • ozzie20 August 30, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

      Bye CR! Have a good night!

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