YouTube’s clips of cats playing pianos or Will Ferrell being berated by a toddler.
“We need to get people to pay attention to what we have to offer,” says one studio marketing exec. “And that means giving them something to get excited about.”
That’s meant giving up the goods exactly as you’ll see it on the bigscreen.
- Just last week, Warner Bros. attached a six-minute bank robbery from the next Batman installment, “The Dark Knight,” to Imax screenings of “I Am Legend.”
- During the same frame, WB posted a three-minute opening sequence of Will Smith racing a Ford Shelby Mustang through the deserted concrete canyons of New York City in “Legend” online.
- Also on the web, Fox posted the first five minutes of “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.”
- Disney uploaded a 2½-minute car chase from “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”
- Sony offered up the first 10 minutes of Judd Apatow-produced “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” on News Corp.-owned dot-coms MySpace, IGN.com and RottenTomatoes.com, as well as its own site.
- Paramount posted the first five minutes of “Cloverfield,” without revealing the pic’s New York-destroying monster, hoping viewers will grab the video and house it on their MySpace and Facebook profiles.
- New Line released the first five minutes of “The Golden Compass” in early December.
- And DreamWorks provided BroadwayWorld.com with the exclusive opening title sequence from “Sweeney Todd.”
Marketers say the strategy to unspool the first few minutes of a film aims to generate an “I-want-to-see-more” reaction for a property with which prospective filmgoers may not be familiar.
But the footage could help win over auds in other ways.
For Fox, the studio needed to let fans know that the “Alien vs. Predator” sequel would up the violence, feature more battles between the two beasties and be rated R — the film they wanted the first time around.
The first five minutes essentially do that, with fans on movie sites embracing what they’d seen.
The decision to release the extended footage isn’t always tied to ticket sales; it’s also about keeping talent happy.
“Dark Knight”-director Chris Nolan was so enamored with the footage he’d shot using Imax cameras for the Batman sequel that he insisted Warner Bros. show it early somehow. The footage is also the first that unveils Heath Ledger in full Joker mode. Wanting to keep the helmer happy, it only made sense to attach the footage to a high-profile release like “Legend,” considering it also was being shown on Imax screens, the studio says.
Posting short sequences of films online isn’t new. Last year, Paramount had several scenes from “Mission: Impossible III” on the pic’s website, as well as places like Yahoo Movies.
But this time around, studios are putting some marketing muscle into letting auds know films are available for viewing. Warner Bros. aggressively used the blogosphere to let moviegoers know that the first footage for “Dark Knight” would appear in front of “Legend.”
Other studios have done the same, with Fox courting horror fan sites and other genre dot- coms.
If the online reaction is any indication, it’s working.
As one poster put it on Ain’t It Cool News: “You just have to love the fanboy nation. … Months of bitching about how this is going to suck, based upon a two-minute trailer, and now, based upon a five-minute sequence, it’s the greatest thing since oxygen.”