From Ridley Scott's hype-building machine for Prometheus to Steven Spielberg's teaser trailers for Lincoln, film-makers are upping the ante when it comes to marketing their movies
Marketing a flick in the digital age can be tricky to get right.
There's perpetual tug of war between fans who want to find out about the flick before its release and the flick companies who want to protect their project; at the same time, film-makers also want to promote and create excitement about their flicks by giving the fans snippets of what they want.
But consider this: in a situation where the fans think they have won the tug of war by extracting snippets of new information about a particular film, it could be that the flick company marketing gurus have simply let go of the rope.
A few days ago, for example, pictures of Joel Kinnaman surfaced online, wearing a thoroughly un-robotic Robocop suit on the set of José Padilha's new remake.
Despite the largely negative reaction from fans and bloggers, the pictures got people talking passionately about the film.
A savvy marketing coup? It's not beyond the realms of possibility that these pictures may even have been leaked by the flick company.
Giving the fans what they want can, however, be a dangerous game to play.
Earlier this year Ridley Scott's flick Prometheus launched what must be one of the most impressive marketing campaigns ever; it even included a company website for the fictional Weyland Enterprises and a video of a fictional TED talk launching the Prometheus project.
Combine this with the release of multiple viral video trailers and you have the perfect example of a hype-building, excitement-inducing machine.
The campaign took the flick to a $380m global box-office takings, but a question remains: did Prometheus' marketing strategy give too much away?
The bombardment from grandiose marketing strategies shows no sign of letting up, however – and we are now seeing almost as much attention directed towards the first airing of official trailers as we have towards the release of the flick proper.
The teaser trailer has, of course, been around for ages, but the pomp and circumstance surrounding their release has taken a step up lately.
Steven Spielberg's new biopic Lincoln offered a 44-second trailer advertising the official premiere of the full trailer on Google, followed by a webcast with Spielberg himself.
This may engage the fans, but the whole process is getting very close to the edge of parody.
How long before we get a trailer for the teaser trailer?
On top of this, trailers themselves are getting longer, with most official ones clocking in at well over two minutes in length.
This means that, assuming there are two or three trailers released for a film, you already have over five minutes of footage to examine before you've even thought about buying a ticket.
I've never read Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but it would be easy to come up with an accurate summary of the plot after a single viewing of the 2:30 trailer.
It's the equivalent of giving away all but the last chapter of your book for free in the hope that people will cough up for the final chapter.
Do flick companies really think this plan is just about crazy enough to work? But the day will surely come when they reveal too much, extinguishing the desire to see the flick itself.
Marketing & PRRidley ScottSteven Spielbergguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
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