Disney’s Tron-a-thon

Film to test studio's reach with inventive marketing

“Tron: Legacy” may revisit the videogame-based world Disney introduced in the early 1980s, but the way the company is marketing the pic signals just how serious the studio is about using the Mouse House’s various divisions to market future tentpoles.

Disney on Monday revealed a 10-week plan to promote “Tron: Legacy” that will involve the company’s theatrical, dotcoms, consumer products, music and theme park operations leading up to “Tron: Legacy’s” bow in theaters Dec. 17.

The overall idea is to turn “Tron: Legacy” into an event to lure

moviegoers to the megaplex where they can be introduced to a world they’ll want to revisit through other platforms.

It’s a concept that Disney chief Bob Iger has been pushing hard, especially when it comes to Disney’s animated films and live-action tentpoles, as a way to generate new revenue streams outside of the theater.

Marketing is expected to play a key role in launching those properties. To do so, Disney’s new studio execs are embracing the need to begin their campaigns long before the traditional four-week promo push created around most releases — especially for those in which there is likely to be less familiarity among global audiences.

The studio will essentially take a page out of Fox’s playbook when it screens more than 20 minutes of “Tron: Legacy” in 3D on Oct. 28 in select Imax theaters.

In August 2009, Fox hosted “Avatar Day,” during which the studio also screened a first look at footage from the James Cameron film in theaters. This was intended for audiences that weren’t on hand to watch another first-look at the pic at the San Diego Comic-Con a month earlier.

Tickets are free to moviegoers who reserve their seats on Disney’s “Tron: Legacy” website.

“It’s exciting to offer fans an early, exclusive 3D preview of ‘Tron: Legacy’ in the ultimate of formats,” said Sean Bailey, president of production at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. “We can’t wait for audiences around the world to experience the visually stunning and cutting-edge world that director Joe Kosinski has created.”

Disney has been so eager to show off footage for the follow-up to the original 1982 pic that it’s been promoting “Tron: Legacy” at Comic-Con for the past three years.

But now that the pic is almost complete, the marketing machine is about to start revving up in earnest.

The “Tron Night” screenings will follow the opening of “elecTRONica,” a visual and music-themed street event inside the Hollywood Pictures backlot portion of Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim. It essentially recreates the film’s Flynn’s Arcade. Guests will also get a 3D preview of the film as well as food and drink from an End of the Line Club set replicated from the pic, on top of other laser-flavored dance club activities.

Event, which replaces this summer’s neon-themed Glow Fest in the same portion of the park, is skedded to run nightly through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then mostly on weekends through April.

Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Fla., had already covered its monorails with artwork to make the cars look like “Tron” lightcycles racing through the parks. The “elecTRONica” promo is expected to be just the first of a series of integrations of the “Tron” property into Disney’s parks around the world — especially if the film clicks at the box office.

Separately, Disney will introduce new video from the film, behind-the-scenes exclusives, trailers and artwork each week online through “Tron Tuesdays,” via Disney’s websites and Facebook page.

Disney Records will also release the “Tron: Legacy” soundtrack, produced by electronica duo Daft Punk, on Dec. 7, while Disney Interactive Studios will use the same date to launch the “Tron: Evolution” videogame. Disney Consumer Products will gradually roll out new lines of “Tron”-related merchandise that targets not just gamers and music fans, but also women with a new line of merchandise.

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