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Summary:

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 […]

walkhard.jpgRecently 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.

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  1. I love John C. Reilly’s work. But the poster is a turnoff. No promotion could overcome that. Oh. And Reilly adds a huge amount as a supporting character actor. But who expected him to carry a film? Whether or not the clip is on line, the picture starts in a hole.

    As for Compass… there was a Christian campaign against it. And all the materials looked dark and broody. If I want dark and broody, I’ll watch Johnny Depp slash a few throats.

    In both cases… the promo technique was beside the point.

    As for re-watching the opening. If people love a film, they’ll watch it more than once. In more than one medium.

  2. There are good strip teases and bad strip teases just like there are good movie trailers and bad movie trailers.

    Hey, some trailers are so good they give away the whole movie and leave movie goers unhappy but they don’t ask for their money back. At least not yet. ;)

  3. Michael, you’re right on both fronts. In the case of Walk Hard, the ten minutes almost seemed like an act of desperation. But it seems like putting that much online might have backfired.

    And Tim, ugh. Yes. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Too many trailers today give too much away.

  4. We can’t forget Wes Anderson’s recent Darjeeling Limited with its The Hotel Chevalier prequel of sorts available from iTunes. Any consensus on how this promoted the film? It seems like a great idea but I have to admit that while I logged into iTunes to download when I read about it I have yet to watch it or go see the movie.

    In theory I like the idea of using the infinite space of the internet to add promotional, complementary, and extra material for feature film releases.

  5. The link to the Variety article in this story is broken. You’ll get a butler error when it is clicked.

  6. Thanks Brian, I fixed the link.

  7. Do Commercials Need Teasers? « NewTeeVee Friday, January 25, 2008

    [...] Commercials Need Teasers? Posting clips on the web of upcoming events like blockbuster movies is now par for the marketing course. But has this tactic not jumped the shark when companies post [...]

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