Ever notice how many different versions of movie posters show up at your multiplex before a big event movie release? Have you noticed that teaser trailers, that first minute or so of film hyping a new movie with sometimes as little as an animated title over some booming dramatic music, can show up in theaters more than a year before the movie's actually scheduled to get there? Do you really have that long of an attention span?
Let's try to put things in perspective. The movie industry, right or wrong, lives and dies on opening weekend box-office numbers. Now let's say you have well upwards of $100 million wrapped up in production costs. You've also got a marketing budget that can support a small town for a year, committed to hyping this thing to blockbuster status by the time your calendar weekend arrives. Why not dribble out a little cash, early in the game to start planting seeds and build the most important four letter word in Hollywood - BUZZ? Suddenly 20 different character posters, the FaceBook fan page and the constant stream of Twitter updates not only make sense, they feel downright essential. If it were our money, we'd move the marketing department within visual range (and screaming distance) to be sure we were maximizing every shred of promotion possible.
And so today we welcome you to the beginning of the "big push" in the hottest hype campaign on the burners - Avatar. With an estimated production budget of $190,000,000.00, a director resurfacing after last having directed the number one box-office film of all time, Titanic (1.85 billion worldwide), and a film that boasts special technologies invented just so the film could get made, James Cameron's Avatar needs to succeed. A little extra flair, a little P.T. Barnum razzle-dazzle, a little flat out tease is certainly to be expected. The touch of originality and creativity that seems attached to the effort is much appreciated.
This Friday, a day of the week (particularly a summer week) usually dedicated to releasing a new round of movies, has this week been commandeered for the release of a new movie trailer! Avatar's first movie trailer will debut on Friday, August 21st, a day James Cameron and Twentieth Century Film Corporation are hoping will, from here forward, be known as "Avatar Day".
Along with the worldwide release of Avatar's first trailer, fans of the already heavily Comic Con hyped sci-fi epic were invited to register on the movie's official website for a chance to win free tickets to an "extended" preview screening that included 2D, 3D, Imax and (for the hardcore) Imax 3D screens around the world. The rush crashed the website (more convenient press release hype), recovered, and is about to reward the faithful with emails to let them know if they are among the specially chosen who will receive the privilege of being test marketed. Be assured, those who score tickets are thrilled at the chance to be crash test dummies. "Avatar Day" will also see the orchestrated unveiling of special "3D" lenticular one-sheet posters, Ubisoft's® Avatar video game trailer and Mattel's movie character action figures.
Avatar promises to be the last big event movie of 2009 and very well could become the talk of the movie industry for years to come. Cameron, who already has distinguished himself as a pioneer of both popular film innovation and technical moviemaking achievement, is set to write a new chapter in his contribution to the industry, both technically and creatively. His shadow may very well eclipse the achievements of even the likes of Spielberg and Lucas. A little extra hype seems not only like sound business but under Cameron's direction, damned entertaining.
You can get a little more information right now at Avatar's official website as well as lots of familiar places you visit on the net, but by Friday, expect the flood gates to open. On Saturday the countdown to the movie's December 18th release date will begin with launch minus "Avatar Day" plus 118. For many after Friday, it will be a more important than counting the shopping days to Christmas.
Avatar Day is sure to be the talk of the movie industry this weekend and for the first time, get ready for Hollywood to report trailer attendance the way they report ticket sales. Which brings us to the fact that there are actual full length feature films being released this weekend too. If you didn't score a preview Avatar ticket and you're consoling yourself by just catching the trailer on the net, you do have Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds to look forward to. Even with a mere 15 versions of posters in its marketing campaign, great advance reviews are likely to insure a number one spot at the box-office over the weekend. And of course, that's the whole point. Catch a weekend flick, catch the buzz for Avatar and have a great movie weekend.