Who you gonna call?

Splash Page has the details on a new Ghostbusters comic from IDW that reportedly picks up after the second movie in terms of continuity.

Finding the Audience: Distribution Notes for 7/30/08

“Boring, baby-maintaining adult” and one of my favorite AdFreaks David Griner picks up on “social viewing” being the common thread between Netflix’s new distribution deal through the Xbox 360 and Disney’s Blu-ray Sleeping Beauty functionality. And he rightly pegs that sort of feature as something that’s going to be increasingly important to younger viewers.

Don at Mashable says free streaming movies would be a better allocation of studio resources than constant tilting at windmills in the form of “fighting” piracy.

An interesting piece from the Hollywood Reporter on how it’s the exception and not the rule for successful movies to spend some significant time at the top of the box-office heap. What’s interesting is that the lifespan of a hit movie this year, while it pales in comparison to the staying power of movies twenty years ago or so, is still better than last years. There’s the assumption that this shift from last year to this means Hollywood’s decision to release fewer movies worked, but I think that might be a hasty conclusion to jump to. I think it’s just the quality of the movies, which is much higher than it was last year.

Oh, and this year’s box-office is a lot better than last year’s at this point.

Scott Kirsner passes on the results of a survey that shows while independent filmmakers are frustrated by not making much money from digital distribution channels now, they still remain optimistic that this is the way to go for the future.

The only surprise in the story of how Netflix is shuttering their Red Envelope distribution division is that it took this long to happen. As Karina and just about everyone else points out, the venture put Netflix in the position of competing against the studios it needed to provide it with blockbusters and catalog titles that are so popular.

Laurie at Infinicine has a great interview with the head of Shooting People, a network of filmmakers and other creatives that allows members to trade information and resources, on how the members of the group are getting involved in changing distribution patterns and leading the charge to adopt new technologies.

Laurie also is doing some thinking out loud about whether the digital download market is actually a good thing for small filmmakers or not.

20th Century Fox has become the first major studio to partner with an exhibition chain on the oft-promised introduction of digital upgrades. The studio has worked out a deal with a consortium of exhibitors that would significantly expand the roll-out of digital projection and delivery, something that brings with it lower costs and a better overall audience experience.

Anne Thompson gives small & creepy films, a small distribution site run by screenwriter Caroline Thompson, a brief profile.

On the home video front, Blockbuster says it’s planning a string of digital download kiosks as well as the eventual integration of Movielink into their offerings. And Netflix has hit the 12,000 title mark for its Watch Instantly service while it signs a series of distribution deals.

Picking up the Spare: Dark Knight, Iron Man, WALL-E

The Dark Knight

There’s an application for the iPhone or the iPod Touch that allows you to add the scrawled Joker make-up to any picture of yourself, whether it’s something you already have or something you take using the devices. This is exactly the sort of thing that I thought should have been part of the campaign and I don’t know if this is an official application from Warner Bros. or not, but it should be.

The Interpublic Group Lab blog (disclosure: I work for an IPG firm) takes a look at the campaign, giving a very basic overview of some of the sites and other marketing ventures taken in support of the movie.

You have to wonder what the folks at the Santikos Theater in San Antonio, Texas were thinking. The theater had been engaging in their own little viral marketing campaign in anticipation of the movie’s release that culminated in a cake that looked like a bomb being sent to a local TV station. That, of course, was followed by the authorities becoming involved when not everyone realized it was just a prank. I give them props for originality but…well…come on.

The movie’s shadow caused a drop in the usual number of independent films being released this past weekend. While the movies that were released or which were already out did fairly well, most decided not to go head-to-head with Batman.

It did, on the other hand, prove to be a blessing for Imax. The movie’s release on the big, big format was a major component not only of the paid campaign but also of the public relations and publicity surrounding the film. It might even prove to be the thing that brings Imax releases of mainstream films out from being “an interesting experiment” and turns it into a must-have part of a movie’s release patter.

Annalee at IO9 uses The Dark Knight as the launching pad for a self-categorized rant on how ARGs are just not very interesting and kind of pointless.

And speaking of the ARG, 42 Entertainment, the interactive agency behind its development and execution, has issued a press release touting just how interesting it was and how it achieved the goals it was designed to meet.

Dan Calladine has an interesting chart of Facebook Wall references to either The Dark Knight, Iron Man or Indiana Jones that shows Batman was the flat-out winner in this rough measure of word-of-mouth buzz.

Iron Man

David Poland picks Iron Man as the smartest campaign by a major studio so far this year. The Dark Knight, Wanted, Kung Fu Panda and a host of other movies covered here on MMM are also in his top ten campaigns of the summer.

Antony Young at AdAge does a mini-review of the campaigns for both Iron Man and The Dark Knight, analyzing them for their different audience approaches. He punts on declaring an overall winner, but each of his sections are worth checking out since he does a decent job of showing how things were executed differently.


Rob Walker discusses the marketing of WALL-E, specifically the portion of it that involved the fictional Buy-N-Large corporation. And he nicely ties that to the notion that much of the movie’s design was inspired by Apple’s products, including Eve, who looks like a more angular, floating iPod.

X-Files: I Want to Believe

Mashable has an awesome list of fan sites and other resources that will allow you, if you’re so inclined, to dive deeper into the show’s mythology and backstory as well as official sites for the series and some of the actors from it.

Unfortunately, the marketing campaign didn’t help push the review needle any higher, with Patrick Goldstein noting that this movie marks Fox’s (more or less) 18th straight film to not break a 50% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Search doesn’t play by the old rules

I hope everyone enjoys this story on how the expense of search marketing keywords makes engaging in keyword buying an option and not a necessity for movie marketers. The problem they run into, something that pushes the cost of the keywords up is that the movies being advertised feature famous people, famous people who everyone is trying to use to drive traffic to their respective sites.

The story is largely, it seems, one that’s meant to make movie marketers feel better about not worrying so much about search. But it also shows how easy those marketers have had it. Adding Angelina Jolie’s name to a poster but it costs quite a bit to add it to a list of search keywords.

QOTD: 7/29/08

Karina: (Yeah, this is a trend)

It’s not a writer’s job to protect the stupid.

Unfortunately too many media outlets – and by extension their writers – think that’s exactly what their job is.

The new paradigm

So now that Tom has publicly let the cat out of the bag about his new gig at MTV I feel comfortable mentioning what’s going on in my world.

Now that The Biro has moved on to try and become the next Ed Lover I’m doing what I can to take up the slack in the DialogueMedia practice at MWW Group. They’ve asked me, and I’ve agreed, to travel out to New Jersey on a weekly basis in order to provide more hands-on care to both the account teams and the clients. Since the agency is based in NJ that makes sense as we figure out what’s going to happen going forward.

So if things are a bit more sporadic and some MMM columns get published a little late that’s why.

This is an exciting time and things are in a pretty decent state of flux, but things are going to be great moving forward. Bear with me, please, as I get into the new routine. The biggest problem right now appears to be those instances when either the state of New Jersey or the airline industry doesn’t want to let me leave the east coast. I don’t like that.

Movie Marketing Madness: Step Brothers

(Note: Yes, this should have gone live last week. Schedules and circumstances prevented that from happening, but since I had it almost completely written anyway I figured I may as well push it out. Apologies all around for the delay.)

I was talking with someone recently about how much better a certain singer’s performances are when he’s paired with someone else in a duet. Putting him in that situation forces him to tone down his vocal gymnastics, designed to do nothing but broadcast fake emotions that he’s not seemingly able to pull off authentically. But put him up against someone and he’s pushed to actually sing in order to keep up with his partner, resulting in a much better performance. Even the great performers of all time, Eric Clapton comes to mind, benefit from supporting players that push them to the limits of their abilities instead of allowing them to sit back and give awesome but relatively uninspired performances.

Such is the case with someone like Will Ferrell. He’s remarkably funny in and of himself, but when he’s put in a position where he can riff off of someone equally talented his performances are raised to a whole other level. That’s certainly the case with movies like Anchorman, where while he was the star he had to keep up with what Paul Rudd and the rest of the cast were doing as well.

In Step Brothers, Ferrell turns to John C. Reilly as his partner in comedy. Reilly has made a mid-career adjustment from serious dramas to comedies, not forsaking the latter entirely but certainly focusing on the former more and more in the last couple of years.

The movie has the two actors playing grown men, neither of whom have left their respective nests. Eschewing all forms of responsibility or maturity, the two are brought together unwillingly when their single parents marry each other, forming a family that now includes two man-children. While the two first plot against each other they eventually find out they have quite a bit in common and use each other to continue prolonging their adventures in delayed self-reliance.

The Poster

It’s not actually that surprising that there was only one poster for the film that was created. It’s not really a high-profile action film or even something that invites multiple perspectives. The one-sheet shows Ferrell and Reilly in a family portrait style photo, both with incredibly ridiculous looks on their faces. It works on a very basic level, in that the main selling point of the movie is the interaction between these two goofballs.

You might think there would be room for a couple of character posters in this campaign but I think that separating the two actors would take away much of the funny. The movie is based on the conflict, and later camaraderie between the two characters so splitting them apart would also split apart the essential allure of the film.

@timnudd points to this poster as being the tipping point, when Sears Family Portrait Studio-type pictures officially became uncool. While I whole-heartedly agree with him that such photos are uncool, I have to wonder when he thought they were cool. That in and of itself disturbs me more than a little.

The Trailers

The one and only regular trailer opens with the two main characters, Brennan and Dale, meeting each other for the first time and not exactly getting off on the right foot. Their relationship is immediately defined by threats of bodily harm and instances of them actually attacking each other, something that includes Ferrell’s character attempting to bury Reilly’s alive. Eventually, though, the two find they have quite a bit in common. The story of the movie is then revealed as the two grown losers are told to get jobs and get out of the house, something they sabotage to the best of their ability so they can continue their lives of absolutely no responsibility.

The red-band trailer amps up the language quite a bit. The conflict of the movie is immediately setup as the two meet when their parents get married. There’s quite a bit of the same footage that appeared in the first trailer, with most of the new scenes being ones that feature some crude language. A few of them are just extensions of scenes we’ve seen before.


When you load the movie’s official website the first thing you see is a framed portrait of Ferrell and Reilly that’s very much like the poster. Only this moves. Ferrell will do something and Reilly tells him to calm down or cut it out and then the picture freezes. Below it there’s a “Replay” button for you to kick it over to the next thing that they do.

Off to the side there’s something called the Step Brothers Duel. It’s basically a little gag to play on your friends that lets you upload their picture from your hard drive and then have it sent to their mobile phone. At least that’s how I’m guessing it works since the site wasn’t really working for me, though I did see a box to enter your friend’s phone number.

There’s also a link there to watch the restricted clips there that includes access to the red-band trailer and some similarly bawdy clips from the film. Basically the studio wants to remind us that the actors are allowed to swear in the movie and these work quite well at achieving that goal.

Once you go ahead and enter the site, you’re basically taken into the feud between the two new step-brothers. Specifically you’re taken into their house, with the site’s sections scattered around the place. It’s not like they’re hidden, it’s just that the site is meant to continue the attempt to draw you into these people’s lives.

“About the Film” contains a brief Synopsis as well as the usual Cast and Crew profiles. You’ll find the Trailer, some Clips and a couple of TV Spots under “Media” and a whopping eight stills from the movie under “Gallery.” “Downloads” has just what you’d expect, a Wallpaper, a Screensaver and a bunch of Buddy Icons.

The content under “Special Features” is a little bit better. Brennan and Dale (Ferrell and Reilly’s characters, respectively) are lists of their special treasures, things like karaoke machines and other goofy stuff like that. There’s also a Soundboard that consists of brief audio clips from each character and a Step by Step Guide to getting along with your brother-in-law, which thinks it’s much funnier than it actually is.

“Promotions” is just a sweepstakes the studio is running in conjunction with MovieTickets.com

Like the stuff under “Special Features,” the “Join ASSB” takes you to the site for the fictional “American Society of Step Brothers.” And like the “Special Features” content, it thinks it’s much funnier than it actually is. You can upload your own photo or that of a friend into the family portrait from the movie. You can also play a game called “Whack-A-Bro” where you get to select which of the two, Ferrell or Reilly, you’d like to hit over and over again in a whack-a-mole type game.

There are also the requisite Facebook and MySpace pages for the film as well as a Mobile friendly site and content. The Facebook page has voicetones you can download, trailers, the Duel game and a batch of photos. You’ll find videos, games, downloads, voicetones and the staring contest widget on the MySpace page.


Like they did with You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Sony/Columbia created standees for the movie that come equipped with Bluetooth technology. The standees, which have been placed in 50 Regal Entertainment theaters across the country, will beam four voicetones to moviegoers who interact with the standee. A fifth is also available to those who take an extra step. Those who saw the standee between July 18th and 20th also were able to grab a 30-second clip from the movie.

There were also quite a few TV spots, a smattering of online ads and a few outdoor ads that I’ve seen for the film.


The stars and director of the movie stopped by Comedy Central’s “Reel Comedy” show to talk about the difficulties of living with family and other such topics. This is a standard part of most comedy’s publicity plans.

Reilly and Ferrell also appeared on the newly launched site IBeatYou, engaging in a staring contest on the site that didn’t do much more than put a presence for the movie there. You could grab this contest as a widget to put on your own online presence. It’s not necessarily something where the funny holds up upon repeated viewings, but what are you going to do?


It’s an alright campaign in achieving its target goals of simply alerting the general public there’s a new Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly comedy – directed, I should mention, by Anchorman and Talladega Nights helmer Adam McKay – that’s hitting theaters. But while the single poster and the couple of trailers are plenty funny the website speaks to a marketing effort that does not appear to have a lot of support. I realize that the online component might not be the most visible in terms of what’s seen by the mass audience, but you can also use that to some extent as a barometer of a studio’s excitement about a movie.

I think the biggest problem I have with the general lackluster vibe the campaign gives off is that we’re now over a month past the release of just about all the other major comedies of the summer. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Get Smart, The Love Guru and The Happening were all released in early- to mid-June. That means Step Brothers, with a more full-throated marketing yawp could have been THE comedy of the mid- to late-summer, a light-hearted antidote to the super-serious Dark Knight and the bevy of action films that have come out. True, Hancock was positioned (somewhat inaccurately) as a comedy, but that wound up fitting very much into the action movie mold more than anything.

The campaign relies almost exclusively on the audience’s tolerance for Ferrell and Reilly’s mugging instead of making the case for the film itself. While, again, most of the individual components work pretty well at conveying the selling points of the film, the campaign as a whole fails to measure up.


  • 8/20/08: Don’t tell anyone, but Step Brothers has quietly amassed over $100 million at the domestic box-office, which is kind of a big deal when you think about this being a mid-level comedy. As Karina says, this sort of “Oh my, did that really succeed?” movie is one of many reasons that studios have been shutting down their specialty divisions that deal in movies that require marketers to actually “think” and “put together a plan.”

QOTD: 7/28/08

Matt Groening (via Anne Thompson):

Q: Where do you get your jokes from?
A: Family Guy.

QOTD: 7/26/08


Sorry. I’m at Comic-Con, which makes me feel like a fucking sexpert, just because I’ve had it. (Slam!)

Movie Marketing Madness: X-Files – I Want to Believe

I_Want_to_Believe_poster_2Shhh…Don’t tell anyone – least of all 20th Century Fox – there’s a new X-Files movie coming out shortly.

I mention that because up until the very last minute, the studio seemed content to not worry about promoting the movie very much at all. The movie’s release date kept getting closer and closer with no trailer or posters and not even a formal title, necessitating much of the early coverage of the film to refer to it as “X-Files 2” or “As-yet-unnamed X-Files sequel” or something along those lines. There was plenty of press coverage of the film’s shooting and the reunion of the two stars and the creative talent, but no name and no actual marketing that was going on.

When the campaign finally did get going it seemed to be a scatter-shot effort, without a strong brand identification component. Part of that short-coming might be because it’s been six years since the show the movie is being spun-off from signed off of TV and 10 years since the first film hit theaters. So there’s a significant gap since the property was last churning out new material.

That leads into he main challenge for the movie and it’s marketing campaign, which is figuring out just where the target audience for the movie, the latest in a string of much-later franchise entries or relaunches, is. Unlike properties such as Indiana Jones, there didn’t seem to be much clamoring from anyone but the hard-core fans for new stories of the FBI’s most mysterious division. And the film is coming out in the middle of a summer that is seeing not only a number of high-profile relaunches and sequels as well as a surprising number of successful original films, some of which have franchise potential themselves.

That’s led the studio to engage in a campaign that has less to do with the return of two familiar characters than the establishing of what they’re hoping is a decent mystery flick.

I Want to Believe, unlike 1998’s Fight the Future, eschews the TV show’s conspiracy and mythology in favor of a story that’s more in the mold of one of the series’ stand-alone “monster of the week” episodes. That decision likely has as much to do with the desire of the creative talent as it does with dictates of a studio that doesn’t want to make the movie any more inaccessible to the general audience than it generally needs to be. The story brings Mulder and Scully back together after, seemingly, a number of years apart from each other as they’re asked to investigate claims that a recluse is getting visions from God that could reveal why young women are being murdered in the wilderness of the frozen north.

The Posters

Speaking to the notion that the marketing for the movie was half-hearted at best, there were just two posters created, a relatively small number considering this by all rights should have been treated as a much bigger deal.

The first one-sheet amps up the spooky atmosphere, with Mulder and Scully appearing only as small little figures toward a bottom corner of the design. Their shadows stretch over the remainder of the poster’s real estate, though, and form a “X” as they intersect. The light that allows for the shadows to be cast is all smoky and such, making it look like the characters are walking through some sort of, well, fog machine to be completely honest.

The second poster is, unfortunately, even more underwhelming. This time the pair are walking toward us across a frozen lake, with a cadre of officers in the background and a blood-spattered “X” in the foreground. The scene is taken directly from something that’s shown in the trailers, leading to a bit of familiarity in the minds of the audience. But there’s something about the perspective of everyone in the design that’s just a little off and that keeps the poster from being completely effective, I think. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it doesn’t look quite right. The good part is that this design will be used again, marking the best usage of consistent imagery to create a brand identity in the campaign.


The theatrical trailer opens very mysteriously, with Billy Connelly’s reclusive preacher intoning things about his visions. We then get Amanda Peet pleading with someone off-screen that she needs his help – she needs his belief – in order to unravel some sort of mystery. As the screen goes to black we here Mulder and Scully say hello to each other in their usual emotionally distant way. From there we get more and more shots of the two of them together, sometimes with Connelly and sometimes with the other FBI agents, with the action slowly ramping up to a fever pitch. There’s a bit of reminding the audience that it’s Fox Mulder that “wants to believe” in mysterious phenomena and then more running and shouting, broken only by the occasionally bit of trademark skepticism from Scully. Toward the end there’s even a shot of the two main characters in some sort of embrace, something that’s sure to please the legions of “shippers” that are always rooting for these crazy kids to get together.

The oddly titled “Online Exclusive Trailer” opens with Mulder talking to Connelly’s preacher about one of his visions. There are lots of quick cuts and such before we see Mulder pleading with Scully to join him on this investigation. The transition into more or less pure action is more immediate, though this one contains many of the same scenes as the first trailer. Both also feature the trademark theme music, and I’m sure hardcore fans soiled themselves in excitement upon hearing this for the first time in six years.

I’m not sure what the overall strategy was since it seems a little odd to me, but the second trailer also appears on live streaming video site Seesmic. I mean it’s a great idea to put the video wherever you can, but this seems like an orphan tactic since it’s just the one trailer and nothing else.

Both trailers rely at least a bit on the viewer’s existing familiarity with the characters and their history. There’s simply too much that’s unspoken under the surface of their interactions with each other for there not to be something going on between the two of them, but unless you know what that is already you’re left scratching your head a bit, which is not the way to win over a new audience.


The movie’s official website is possibly the best part of the mainstream campaign for it’s level of information and it’s tactics that are put in place to bring fans of the franchise together. The site is divided into two main sections, top and bottom, with links and menu items in both sections and we’ll look at them in just that order.

The first section along the top menu is “About the Film.” That contains a brief Story recap that unfortunately moves to quickly from the description of the plot to just being another credits block. Also there are biographies and information on the Cast and Filmmakers as well as a Gallery which contains about 20 stills from the movie itself and its shooting.

You’ll find both Trailers, three TV Spots and two Clips that were shown at a special event about the movie at the LA Film Fest, including the first few minutes of the movie in their entirety. I love the fact that those sorts of clips are there since it’s really low-hanging fruit. The clips were already shown and buzzed about so it’s a great idea to put them on the site in order to create as complete an archive as possible. I seem to think there were more than three TV spots created, but that’s a small gripe.

“Downloads” is where you’ll be able to grab Wallpapers, a Screensaver, IM Icons and even an Email Signature. I’m a big fan of the email signature idea since it’s an easy way to get people who are excited about the movie to spread the word of the movie in their everyday email communications, most of which are likely to go to people who may not be similarly enthusiastic. You can also find mobile-specific Wallpapers and Ringtones to download under “Mubile.”

There are two blogs that are part of the site. One is from writer Frank Spotnitz and is simply called Franks’s Blog. On that, Spotnitz seems to primarily be answering questions he gets from readers and other fans. It’s not an extraordinarily easy read but if you’re a hardcore fan you might enjoy it. The other is The Duchovny Files and, as you’d imagine, is from star David Duchovny and is about his returning to the character of Fox Mulder and some of his experiences on the set of the film. It’s a much more engaging read, filled with Duchovny’s trademark dry wit and sense of self-deprecating humor.

One of my favorite parts of the site is “Community Chat.” It’s just what it sounds like, bringing fans together to chat about various topics, which are organized by rooms you can join that are specific to the show, the movies or the mysteries and stories.

Along the bottom menu are links and sections that aim to inform more generally about the X-Files franchise than the movie specifically, though that’s certainly still well represented.

The first link is “X-Files TV Series,” which takes you to Fox Home Entertainment’s page that contains information on all the DVD sets that are available for purchase. Next is “Events,” which is a listing of X-related events that are taking place around the country.

“References” is a great section that links to fan-created information pages and YouTube channels where fans and newcomers can immerse themselves in the mythology and background of the series and characters.

Next up are links to the movie’s Facebook fan page, which contains a handful of photos, the trailers and some updates on various happenings in the movie’s publicity campaign and to separate sites for the movie’s soundtrack and the Revelations DVD that I’ll talk more about shortly.

One little foray the studio made into “viral” marketing (and yes, I’m going to go wander into traffic after saying that) was the creation of short videos, one with Mulder and one with Scully, that has them opining on his or her relationship with the other. They’re alright but honestly are too short to be truly engaging. If they had been part of a larger effort they might be more interesting but don’t detract from the campaign so they’re probably worth checking out.

Advertising, Cross-Promotions and Tie-Ins

Despite my hunch that Fox was trying to keep this movie as quite as possible, there were a half-dozen or so TV spots created.

The first commercial is, appropriately, heavy on nostalgia and the main two characters, only vaguely hinting at the plot. Let’s face it though, that’s not really that important since it’s mainly the relationship between Mulder and Scully that people are going to come out to see. Others hit many of the same notes but some went more in-depth into the story, assuming the audience already knows who the characters are and just getting on with the selling of the movie.

DC Comics went further into fan’s potential nostalgia for untold X-Files stories by creating a 40-page one-shot comic with a story that reportedly takes place some time in the show’s fifth season, a good target to shoot for since that was during the show’s creative hot-streak.

A major component of the campaign was the studio’s appealing to the existing fan base of the show and the previous movie. There was even an event at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood where “X-Philes” were invited to a special get together with the stars and talent behind the movie, who answered questions and otherwise interacted with them. In a great move, the event was webcast for those fans to couldn’t attend in person.

Much like it did with smaller DVD volumes that contained just those episodes dealing with the show’s alien invasion conspiracy storyline, Fox released a new DVD compilation that was sort of a “Best Of” disc of the show’s stand-alone episodes called “X-Files: Revelations.” The disc contained about a half-dozen episodes from across the show’s first six seasons that are some of the most popular of the monster-of-the-week type stories, which is very much in-line with the focus of the movie and the way the campaign has been put together.

One marketing tactic that didn’t get executed was supposed to be called “Panic in Pittsburgh.” According to AdFreak, the plan was to run a War of the Worlds-type media campaign that would have reports going out of some sort of alien invasion and the reanimating of corpses or some such, an idea that seems to have more in common with Plan 9 From Outer Space than WotW. Apparently the plug was pulled on the effort over concerns it would not turn out well for the studio from a legal point of view and that was probably a good call.


I really ought to like this campaign better than I do, but I don’t.

I completely understand not every movie can get an Iron Man-level marketing push. But the revival of a franchise like The X-Files, something that was a tremendously popular show and which does have a loyal fanbase, should occasion a slightly bigger effort I think. Instead the campaign suffers from Audience Attention Disorder, an affliction that strikes efforts when the marketer just can’t seem to decide which of two target audiences to actually make its appeal to.

The problem I keep coming back to is that there’s a certain expectation that comes along for the ride when you add a franchise brand name to the mix.

Let me put it this way: I get that they wanted a movie that wouldn’t get bogged down in the show’s existing mythology and history. But there’s no real reason to make an X-Files movie unless you’re going to play into the franchise’s existing mythology and history. It might in fact be a darn fine thriller, but what’s my motivation as a viewer to watch this movie? Is it because it’s a decent mystery or is it because it’s an opportunity to revisit characters I’ve previously enjoyed? If it’s the latter you need to convince me it’s not just a good movie, but that it’s a worthy entry into the catalog of stories involving these characters I already know.

Taken on their own, the individual elements of the campaign are largely alright, with the website and its community-based features reaching into really good territory.

The campaign overall, though, suffers from a lack of focus that stems direction from not knowing who the target audience is, and that unfortunately weighs the entire effort down.


  • 7/30/08: Mashable has an awesome list of fan sites and other resources that will allow you, if you’re so inclined, to dive deeper into the show’s mythology and backstory as well as official sites for the series and some of the actors from it.
  • 7/30/08: Unfortunately, the marketing campaign didn’t help push the review needle any higher, with Patrick Goldstein noting that this movie marks Fox’s (more or less) 18th straight film to not break a 50% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • 8/7/08: Series and movie creator Chris Carter says he’d be open to another X-Files movie, mentioning that everyone involved had a great deal of fun making I Want to Believe but seemingly driving right past the fact that the movie did not exactly burn of the box-office charts.
  • 8/20/08: 20th Century Fox has partnered with Apple to create a couple of limited-series iPods featuring artwork from the movie’s poster, as well as the ability to have your own name or personalized message added to it. These will set you back a little bit more, but are kind of cool and if you’re a hard-core fan of the series this might be the time you choose to upgrade the iPod you bought three or four years ago.
  • 9/11/08: Producer Frank Spotnitz puts the best possible spin on the movie’s financial tally, saying that while it might not have achieved cross-over success, it did appeal to the franchise’s core fanbase. He also complains a bit about how the media wound up focusing on the negative storylines instead of giving credit where credit was due.
  • 12/11/08: The producer of the second X-Files feature film blames The Dark Knight for using up all the genre fanboys before his movie got a real chance. There’s a bit of that that’s true, but only just a bit before you have to get into audience awareness and other issues of actual property demand.