Two recent and upcoming movie releases have used the social media web in innovative ways to stir up interest and mystique surrounding the films. One in particular, “Paranormal Activity”, the horror film created on a reported $15,000 budget, has managed to become a run-away success this past weekend. Between October 9th and 11th, “Paranormal Activity” raked in an impressive $44,163 per screen average, totaling $7.9 million and is currently ranked #4 in the box office charts – and that’s with a limited release of only 160 theaters!
The people behind “Paranormal Activity” generated buzz surrounding the movie by creating its own Eventful page in an effort to stir up one million user generated votes for a nationwide release of the film. According to Paramount Pictures, the strategy worked, “Over 1,000,000 people from around the country demanded the film play in their city by logging on to ParanormalMovie.com. In response, Paramount Pictures will release the film nationwide beginning Friday, October 16th.” “Paranormal Activity’s” initial release was limited to late-night showings in college towns, generating an intense buzz surrounding the movie on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
A second movie, “The Fourth Kind”, scheduled to be released in November, is just starting to generate a buzz online. The movie, centered on mysterious disappearances in the village of Nome, Alaska, portrays itself in trailers as using actual archived footage of real events as it follows Dr. Abigail Tyler’s inquiry to the strange events. “The Fourth Kind”, which derives its name from a “close encounter of the Fourth kind” with an Alien, aka an abduction experience, is using the internet and social networking sites in a unique way to stir up curiosity surrounding the release.
One Local Alaskan Newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News, has done some investigative reporting into the film. The paper dug up a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and interestingly, discovered several websites, authentic in appearance, with news articles and biographies relating to the film. The websites, (both of which have domains that were registered in the last month according to a quick WHOIS check), highlight information about the main character of the film, Dr. Abigail Tyler. However, some of the articles appear to have been forged, the websites are extremely new and suspicious in appearance, and Ron Adler CEO of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute and Denise Dillard, President of the Alaska Psychological Association say “they’ve never heard of the Alaska Psychiatry Journal, or of Abigail Tyler.” And, suspiciously, although “The Fourth Kind” is purported to be filmed in the small coastal village of Nome, Alaska, the film was actually shot in the lush mountains of Bulgaria:
A photo courtesy of Tom Busch (www.tomsnome.com) shows the true Nome, Alaska.
Have you seen “Paranormal Activity?” Do you plan to see “The Fourth Kind?” Do you believe marketing films using social media will be a trend that continues well into the future? It’s hard to argue against the success of “Paranormal Activity”, but some have criticized “The Fourth Kind” for being too vague about the movie and blurring the line between fact and fiction. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!