Recently a new trend has emerged out of Hollywood studios: promoting upcoming films by putting extended clips from them online. According to a recent Variety article, marketers think this is a brilliant way to put butts in seats. But in reality the tactic is being met with mixed results.
In some cases, such as with the movies National Treasure: Book of Secrets and I Am Legend, individual scenes from the films were uploaded. In others, like The Golden Compass and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the first five and 10 minutes of the films, respectively, were put online. National Treasure and Legend enjoyed strong, even record-breaking box office debuts, but Compass and Walk Hard didn’t perform well at all — Walk Hard, for example, limped into tenth place over the holiday weekend.
Obviously there’s more that goes into the box office grosses of a film than its online promotion. But unlike a movie’s trailer — which, when done well — artfully tells a story that leaves audiences wanting more, there’s no mystery or artistry behind pulling out the first 10 minutes of a film. If you don’t like that clip, you’ll skip the film; if you do like it, well, you’ll have to sit through those 10 minutes all over again when you plunk down $10.75 to watch it in the theater.
Sometimes, even with online video, less is more.