Viral video campaign boosts ‘Prometheus’

Ridley Scott company created the online material

By the time auds settle in for “Prometheus” this weekend, many moviegoers will already have seen six minutes of exposition that won’t appear in Ridley Scott’s long-awaited return to sci-fi — a bit like DVD or Blu-ray extras, presented in reverse.

Created by Scott’s own RSA production shingle, those videos are the latest example of a shift beyond the usual teasers and trailers. Their aim: to turn hardcore fans into mini-marketeers by giving them something unique to share with their less-engaged online friends.

Digital marketers tell Variety that more such pre-release content — often central to a movie’s narrative — is on the way. With “The Amazing Spider-Man,” Sony is an early adopter, having released a video on May 30 of Rhys Ifans, in character as villain Dr. Curt Connors, purportedly speaking to prospective interns at the fictitious Oscorp Industries.

At the center of the “Prometheus” initiative, Scott and his RSA team, including scripter Damon Lindelof, who co-wrote “Prometheus” with Jon Spaihts, and video helmers Luke Scott and Johnny Hardstaff, created three stand-alone viral videos with the pic’s stars Guy Pearce, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace — all in character.

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The first video, which features Pearce as founder of “Alien” company Weyland Industries, launched Feb. 28 at innovator confab TED and has generated more than 4.5 million online page views so far.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams we would get the actual TED branding,” Lindelof said to confab organizers. “I thought we would have to end up calling it NED Talk.”

In April, RSA and Fox released its second — and most shared — video, featuring Fassbender as the android David, a product of Weyland. The video has drawn 3.4 million online views, boosted by a TV spot from promotional partner Verizon, which created a VOD channel on its FiOS network dedicated to showing exclusive “Prometheus” content.

The David piece also appeared on sites like Mashable and Yahoo, promoted through full-page ads in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Fox also invited online users to join the Weyland Industries site as “investors” in the Prometheus Project. Targeted mainly at hardcore fans, the initiative has more than 1.8 million visitors, with north of 1.3 billion social media impressions to date.

Created as auxiliary material for Fox’s marketing campaign, the videos act as viral drivers for the film — and they’re another way for production companies, in this case RSA, to keep business rolling even after feature production has wrapped. Beyond those DVD extras, that is.

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Budget: About $130 million

Marketing strategy: A robust slate of teasers, trailers and three viral videos by Ridley Scott’s RSA banner.

Rollout strategy: Bowed in 15 foreign territories June 1, followed June 8 by the U.S. and an additional 35 overseas markets. Extends into August in some key territories.

Tracking: $40 million-$45 million.

Variety review: “Elaborately conceived from a visual standpoint (but) remains earthbound in narrative terms, forever hinting at the existence of a higher intelligence without evincing much of its own.” – — Justin Chang

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