Saturday, March 8, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Viral Trailer

If you're a regular reader of or Moviedozer Dailies (and we hope you are), you already know that we're big on certain trends in the movie business. 3D is one of those, and as that format continues to shake out we'll be watching for the next step in it's evolution to becoming a major factor in the way theaters present entertainment and the way that studios support non-traditional movie products. Limited release is another hot button around here and after watching studio after studio hedge their bets on less than star-power product by counting it's first run theaters on two hands, we'll be watching the successes and failures of limited release strategies throughout 2008.
We'll be watching too as High Definition makes it's stand as a viable and increasingly popular way to view home video. For now it looks like so called "first adopters" of high-def technology have already been split into winners and losers by the likes of Sony and Toshiba, the standard-bearers of Blu-Ray and HD DVD respectively. For now it looks like Sony and it's consortium of Blu-Ray backers will walk away with the prize, but our caution would be to keep an eye on the internet and the purveyors of digital download. As other forms of entertainment follow music into the world of 1's and 0's, television and film are squarely pointed toward the looking glass of the future where proprietary formats are controlled by the likes of Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. Blu-Ray beware.

Here's the trend that's most recently pulled our focus at Moviedozer: the wonders of viral movie marketing. After it's Valentines Day debut on ABC's Good Morning America, the Associated Press reported on March 2nd that the first full length trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, in distribution on television, movie theaters and the internet, had been see more than 200 million times world wide... in just one week. That number was significantly bolstered by the nearly seven million viewings shared between the official Indiana Jones website and Yahoo's online movie site. The film, which opens on May 22nd and is certainly in the running to be one of 2008's $300 million earners in the US, will likely double that number with overseas draw. As has become the standard for summer movies, it will debut as one of the two or three films to be released this blockbuster season with those lofty expectations.

Why is the internet such an important part of the equation? In a word, familiarity. A franchise as world renown as Indiana Jones ranks way up there with brand names like Star Wars in the box-office business. But for all of us who can remember being caught breathless watching Indy running out of a cave while being chased by a gigantic rolling boulder in his onscreen debut, there are lots more young (read enthusiastic and out of school for the summer) moviegoers who weren't doing much more than playing with toys when it burst into theaters. (Just for reference, in 1989, the year the last Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was released, Sim City had just been introduced and Nintendo had just debuted the Game Boy.) 

If you want to capture that audience, sieze the web! With all of the new web technologies and popular internet social sites, that means going viral. From computers to cell phones to YouTube to Apple's iPod Touch, trailers can play 24/7 and have the cache' of being seen as free to have and distribute entertainment. Big budget entertainment at that.

In the vast scheme of things, this is a trend we at Moviedozer can embrace and believe in. In the world of watching soda and car commercials before seeing the movie you paid ten bucks to catch on it's opening weekend, saturating YouTube with Hollywood movie trailers doesn't seem the least bit inconvenient or offensive. Websites (like our own) that can grab trailer clips and links of major movie release sites, without license or fees and with no limitations or restrictions, reap tremendous benefits from movie studios who understand the market place value of internet technology and proliferation. Watch if you like, click off when you like and search out what you like. Entirely your call. The choices you make will dictate who markets to you and what they market. Better than lame product commercials, push pop-up ads and distracting animated banners, movie trailers and the studios that want you to watch, have found a happy and effective medium to spin tons of extra shelf life from their centerpiece asset in movie marketing. A 2 and 1/2 minute free tease that not only sells tickets, but gets us all in the mood for the best part of every year's blockbuster season - the return of summer! Let 'em go viral.

To check out the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the official website (not to mention more downloadable desktops than we've ever seen on a movie promo site), just click here. You'll be dreaming of leather jackets, crackling whips and fedoras for days and you'll once again be humming that classic theme song all summer long.

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