Marketing a film is perhaps the second most important aspect of movie production, although if you talk to a Studio type it’s probably going to be the first. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve plunked down for your director’s ultimate “artistic vision”, what matters is that people eventually come out and help you make that money back. Even with a film as established as Jurassic Park, which is being re-released in 3D and IMAX 3D in honor of its 20th anniversary, a good marketing campaign can get people to plant themselves into seats and take the ride.
Even during its original release, Jurassic Park had the perfect blend of mystique and payoff that got people excited about seeing living, breathing dinosaurs on the screen in a way they have never before. It all started with the now famous logo, and a simple tag line: “An Adventure 65 Million Years In The Making”. That’s all it took to launch this up and coming property into Hollywood history. Though there have been many who have tried, few have been able to surpass the success of that brilliant marketing strategy, especially in the age of the Internet where most of your film has already been documented online by opening day. Listed here are the ten films that, while they weren’t all as artistically good as Jurassic Park, they’d have given its ad campaign a run for its money.
10. The Blair Witch Project
In 1999, three filmmakers disappeared in the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland. All that was found of them was the footage that went on to become one of the biggest Independent hits of the modern era, revitalizing the Horror genre as well as Indie film in the process. But the funniest thing is that for a little while, a good portion of the public actually believed that the three filmmakers central to the films plot had actually disappeared. A website was set up with the Missing poster plastered on it, a documentary was aired that delved further into the mystery central to the film’s premise, and up until their appearance at the MTV Movie Awards the year of the film’s release the filmmakers were notably absent from any press proceedings.
Never before was a film’s marketing campaign so effective at faking the reality presented within the film itself. Sure, the closest we may have come to this sort of marketing was back in the 70′s, when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was touting itself as a film based on true events. The big difference between then and now was that we never thought the people who made TCM actually disappeared while making it. Debate the artistic merit of the film as much as you will, but the faux reality of the film helped spread word of mouth for a film that was an unknown quantity to its audience. The Blair Witch Project changed the way we’d look at film marketing because it gave the audience something it had never experienced before…it gave us a ticket to step past the looking glass. From this point on, there was no going back.
This article was first posted on January 16, 2013