Hotel Rwanda DVD Contest

Movie Marketing Madness: Movie Marketing Madness Contest

OK, so there were no responses to yesterday’s contest post. I’m not saying there were no correct responses, I’m saying there were NO responses.

Because of that I am leaving the contest open over the weekend. Remember, folks:

-We’re giving a copy of Hotel Rwanda on DVD, courtesy of MGM Home Video.

-Cheating is not only allowed, it’s actively encouraged. I want someone to win this so feel free to ask co-workers, use the IMDB, consult the ancient scrolls. In short, let’s get a winner here by any means necessary. See the full post below (also linked at the top of this post) for rules and procedures.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide…errr…Guide

Yahoo! has a nifty Flash-based guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which is designed to act as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s pretty cool since most of the text is lifted straight from the novel but ultimately doesn’t do very much. Still, check it out if you’re looking for a way to kill about 15 minutes.

Sin City – Marketing Recap

My latest post at Film Threat is a recap of the marketing campaign for Sin City.

I have to admit to not being familiar with the Sin City graphic novels. I love Frank Miller’s work on The Dark Knight Returns and was conversational if not learned on his run on Daredevil. That being said I knew of Sin City and knew it was some sort of hyper-noir with outlandish plots and just a love of gritty storytelling. The movie, though, looks very interesting and is definitely on my list of movies to see.

You can read the whole thing here.


Movie Marketing Madness Contest

Movie Marketing Madness

Welcome to the first contest from Movie Marketing Madness! The winner will receive a brand-spanking new copy of Hotel Rwanda, courtesy of MGM Home Video. All you have to do to enter is answer me these questions three. Send your response to A winner will be selected from the correct responses. All emails must be time-stamped prior to 10:00 CST tomorrow, March 31st and include your full name and mailing address. Don’t use the Comments function but send me a straight email.

Here’s the questions (all based on either Don Cheadle movies or MGM DVDs):

1) In what two movies do Don Cheadle and Catherine Zeta-Jones star?

2) Name two products Yogurt picks up and shows in Spaceballs.

3) Members of what rock group appear in the Robert Blake movie Electra Glide In Blue?

BONUS QUESTION: Name at least one good reason there hasn’t been a special edition DVD of A Fish Called Wanda.

Have fun and I look forward to your responses. Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment.


Exorcist: The Beginning – Marketing Recap

(As I mentioned yesterday, I wrote a MMM column for Exorcist: The Beginning but for some reason never submitted it for publication. Here’s the column in its entirety.)

My, what wandering paths films sometimes take from the pitch (which for me will always be mentally visualized with Buck Henry pitching The Graduate: Part 2 to Tim Robbins) to the time it opens at your local google-plex (thanks to MST3K’s Kevin Murphy for that phrase).

If you follow movie-related websites (like, say, FilmThreat) at all you have probably heard the back story on the making of this prequel to the original Exorcist. Paul Schrader, a relative unknown with only small movies such as Taxi Driver, American Gigolo and Raging Bull to his writing and/or directing credit had completed shooting what was described as a dramatic and psychologically frightening movie. The studio, Morgan Creek – a division of Warner Bros. – wanted spinning heads and vomit. They then hired Renny Harlin (who really should have been exiled to the island of Elba after Cutthroat Island) who made like a circus seal and gave them exactly what they wanted.

So there is tremendous ill-will the marketing campaign for this movie has to overcome. It has to convince everyone who has been reading about six weeks of re-shoots by Harlin and the complete desecration of Schrader’s original film that this version is worth seeing. Good luck.

The Poster

Pretty cool. What looks to be a cross engraved on a piece of rock like a coffin lid conveys a nice sense of darkness while bringing across the point that Christian iconography will play heavily into the film. What works well for the marketers is that by not incorporating any imagery from the movie itself they haven’t had to adjust for the production SNAFUs. This poster worked just as well in late 2003 when the movie was originally scheduled as it does today precisely because it’s fairly generic.

The Trailer

So the total lighting budget for the movie was what? $35? $40? It couldn’t have been any more and most of that was probably spent on candles. More money was probably spent on off-screen fans to mysteriously blow the candles out.

Anyway, this trailer makes it very clear that the studio was delivered a film with lots of “shocking” moments. There are various shots of things falling from ceilings or mysterious shadows running in the background. Most of these shots don’t last more than three or four frames so as not to show how bad.. errr… I mean so as not to give away too many of the big reveals. I didn’t care for the trailer too much simply because it wants it both ways: To reveal the entire plot outline of the movie without giving away any of the showcase sequences.

The Website

Unlike some studios (I mean you Fox) Warner Bros. is pretty consistent in creating decent websites for even mediocre movies (see my columns on Catwoman and Harry Potter 3 for examples).

The first thing you have to do is unlock what I can only assume was a residual concept for the new star gate website. You have to delve into five little vignettes to get the symbols necessary to unlock the gate and enter the rest of the site. These little side trips are, in concept very cool. In execution they’re rather lame. Little parts of each station stop let you view production photos by clicking on a doorframe or hanging birdcage or some shit like that. Anyway, you get the symbol, go back to the main page, plug it into the star gate and hope like hell Richard Dean Anderson doesn’t show up.

There are a couple taglines that pop up in the site. First, “Every story ever told has a beginning”. Isn’t this the same line Lucas used for Episode 1: The Beginning of the Dashing of Dreams? Second, there’s “The very face of evil” which leads me to believe Harry Knowles was cast. Lastly, “A great battle is at hand between good and evil” which may describe the conflict between the studio and Paul Schrader. Thank you all for sticking around for what was solely an excuse for me to rattle off cheap one-liners.

Considering the number of pictures available during the endurance test you have to go through to get into the site the “Gallery” section is rather sparse, containing only about eight or nine pictures. “Cast & Crew” is pretty in-depth but devotes more space to Renny Harlin than he really deserves. “The Story” contains so many mentions of The Face of Evil that it could be used as a pretty decent drinking game. Then again most anything in my world can be used as a drinking game. The contents of “Downloads” include wallpaper, Winamp Skins, Messenger Icons and the secrets of the Egyption Book of the Dead laid out in Microsoft Word’s Wingdings font. That last part may have been made up.


This is a tricky movie to market. The people who are going to be most interested and aware of it are those on the Internet. That group is most likely to have heard all the gossip, backbiting and nasty rumors associated with this flick. So they have tried to create different aspects of the campaign to attract different portions of the public. The website is a little headier and creepier for the Internet lurkers. The trailer, which is designed for mass consumption, contains the gross-out sight gags that may make the general public come see this since they enjoyed Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator and Ed McMahon vs. Cheese Danish.

The studio has recently promised to release Schrader’s version on DVD as a peace offering both the director and to the fans who heard about it on the ‘net. This is a great move on the WB’s part as it honors the work done by the director and creates good will in the public. Great play on their part but the campaign as a whole is not very consistent.

Fantastic Four ShoWest Trailer

Click through the links to find the FF trailer that was shown at ShoWest recently. This is probably the best of the trailers to date and actually has worked in upping my anticipation of this movie.

Niche is good

Tom at TheMediaDrop takes a look at niche-marketing, specifically whole it relates to cable networks and their programming. Here’s my response to what he wrote (surf over to TMD and then come back):

I agree that niche is good in general but I don’t think that applies so much to television. The very nature of TV is based on mass appeal and attracting a large audience. Productions are so expensive (compared to websites and such) that getting too focused on a core audience means that producers are foregoing the economy of scale.

Being as focused as I am on movie marketing this is being played out on the adverstising level in that industry. Studios aren’t seeing the return on investment in producing or airing too many TV commercials and are instead focusing on industry-centric mags and websites.

Those few movie TV ads I have seen are for movies that are not seen as sure things. For instance I saw a ton of commercials for Hostage with Bruce Willis but almost none for Miss Congeniality 2. It seems the studio was so desperate to build any sort of audience for Hostage that they resorted to advertising on TV whereas with MC2 they didn’t have to. They knew there would be tons of press since it involved Sandra Bullock and was a sequel.

It’s not a direct comparison from advertising to network programming but I think the points are similar.

Make Your Own Oldboy Trailer

Tartan Films has lauched a do-it-yourself trailer competition to build buzz for the upcoming Oldboy. Click through if you’re an aspiring filmmaker and are looking for ways to win $1,000.

Exorcist: The Beginning Version 2.0

It’ll be interesting to see what – if any – kind of marketing push Warner/Morgan Creek gives any eventual release of Paul Schrader’s original version of the Exorcist prequel. On the one hand they have a lot of good will to be gained by really promoting it and making it available widely. Fan boys (and girls) will eat it up, especially if it’s as dark and truly interesting as it’s reported to be. On the other it’s a very big, public mea culpa to make. They’re essentially admitting the Renny Harlin-helmed reshoot sucked and trying to play catch-up with public opinion.

If I were to advise Warner Bros. on this I would say a campaign for Schrader’s version, whether it’s a theatrical or straight-to-DVD release, really needs to involve the internet community. These are the people who know about the Schrader version and building buzz on appropriate sites/blogs/message boards could push this release into really being worth a sizable investment. Don’t go overboard with the hyperbole but be realistic about what the movie is and why it’s being released when it is. Make exclusive scenes available to key sites. Treat it as not so much a viral campaign (a term I’m increasingly loathsome of as it is over/misused) but as a grassroots effort.

I actually wrote a Movie Marketing Madness column for the release of the movie but didn’t submit it for some now-fuzzy reason. I may post it here in the near future.

Well That’s Interesting…

In the last few days I have gotten a number of emails from Sony Pictures that have contained some valuable information. They alerted me to the new Bewitched trailer and the site for Stealth going active with content. This uptick has gone along with a number of visits to my humble blog here from visitors at the domain.

It’s great to see someone taking some of my ideas seriously. I’m just a small voice in the maelstrom of the web. If you’re coming here from Sony or any other studio drop me a line via email or leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.