Film marketing evolves with Internet, 3D

In the hyper-charged intersection of new media and marketing, the humble trailer is now being asked to not only entice movie fans but also target certain demographics in more sophisticated ways, and embrace new technology like 3D. And fans have responded, leading to websites and cable TV channels dedicated to trailers.Film trailers go a long way toward building anticipation for a film, but some marketers are taking it even further by promoting the trailers that promote the films, as with “Avatar.” “It’s very rare to see this happen, and I think we’ve done something like this two or three times in the last couple of years,” says Rex Cook, CEO of the digital ad agency AvatarLabs, which created the “Avatar” campaign.

Studios now cut trailers to address the global market’s dramatic fragmentation, with versions aimed at several different demographics, international auds, fanboys — just about any market segment that can be parsed is targeted.

Visitors to sites like comingsoon.net can see domestic trailers,international trailers, uncensored red-band trailers, behind-the-scenes trailers and various TV spots, each cut to attract a specific demographic.

Comingsoon.net’s “Avatar” page features three theatrical trailers, including a Japanese subtitled version and four TV spots.

Even “The Lovely Bones” page, which has only released one domestic trailer so far, includes a French one.

Terry Curtin, CEO of the trailer production house Cimarron Entertainment, which worked on the trailers for “Invictus” and “New Moon,” among others, says more now than ever trailers are driving the conversation before films are released.

And as movies become bigger and more expensive, so does the marketing — trailers no longer tease, they tell, and take longer to get the message across.

The first “teaser” trailer for “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” clocked in at 2:16 while the second came in at 2:19. “Avatar’s” teaser timed at 2:20 while its full-on trailer is a hefty 3:31.

Cook says movies are only getting bigger and the need to drive the hype around them grows, meaning more trailers with more footage attached to them.

Craig Murray, president of Craig Murray Prods., says 3D is just now starting to make a difference in how campaigns are planned and trailers packaged, adding that a lot of that has to do with figuring out a strategy for nontheatrical media to best sell the technology.

DreamWorks used the Feb. 1 Super Bowl to air a heavily promoted “Monsters vs. Aliens” spot in 3D — retailers were stocked with the free 3D glasses that could be used to watch the ad. But so far, no other studio has tried this type of 3D stunt via TV.

“The problem right now is that with a 3D trailer you can only see it in theaters with the glasses and not on your TV or computer screen,” Murray says.

Murray adds that at the end of the day, the story has to be sold and is always the mission of the trailer.

“You are still creating these trailers so that a story can be told, and it needs to play great on other outlets besides theaters like the smallscreen or an iPhone,” Murray says. “The trailer isn’t just about the effects in the film, it’s still about the story and characters and the laughs you’ll get when you go to see this movie.”

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