Thursday, January 07, 2010

21st Century Style of Motion Picture Promotion

21st Century Style of Motion Picture Promotion

Years ago, the only way to promote an upcoming film would be to show previews in theaters, run ads in the newspaper, and commercials on TV. Now that we are in the 21st century, the scope of promotion has increased significantly.

Let's look at a movie that was recently completed, The Lovely Bones, which was sold to DreamWorks for $70 million in 2007, with Paramount Pictures handling worldwide distribution. Paramount, which is a subsidiary of Viacom (VIA-B), had a limited theater release on December 11, 2009; however, the official release is scheduled for January 15, 2010.

Promotion of the movie is challenging, primarily because it is difficult to describe the unusual plot. It's not a mystery, fantasy, thriller or other standard genre, but it does have bits and pieces of various genres. The story is based on a book written by the award-winning and best-selling novel by Alice Sebold, which was published in 2002.

The plot is about a 14 year old girl who is murdered by a neighbor who happens to be a serial killer. The victim observes the killer and her family from a heaven-like place called the 'in-between'. She must determine whether to take revenge versus the healing of her family over the tragedy.

Paramount reportedly spent $85 million in worldwide marketing and distribution. Some of the marketing techniques that Paramount used included everything from Internet advertising to web based contests offering a trip to New Zealand to showing film clips at the Comic-con to soliciting articles from blog writers and online article writers. The Comic-con is an annual convention that features comics, fantasy, science fiction, toys, games, and motion pictures. Peter Jackson (of The Lord of the Rings fame), who directed, produced, and co-wrote The Lovely Bones script, gave a presentation at the latest Comic-con in San Diego, showing a four-and-a-half minute clip.

In August, an online contest was held with contestants placing their entries at a web site, with the winner receiving a free trip to Wellington, New Zealand, to see a special premiere of the film in December.

YouTube has turned out to be a great promotional venue for the movie. Type 'The Lovely Bones' in the YouTube search box and you get over 1600 results, including movie trailers, reviews, actor interviews, news items on the premieres, and even the movie music.

Investors who like fantasy trading can speculate on the box office gross receipts of the movie at, and if you think Peter Jackson may receive an Oscar, you can buy one of the Hollywood Stock Exchange Derivatives for Best Director at

Paramount has several other pictures in the hopper besides The Lovely Bones, including Shutter Island, How to Train Your Dragon, and Iron Man 2. Viacom, which is the conglomerate that owns Paramount, has a reasonable price-to-earnings ratio of 16.6, and turned in a 15.5% increase in earnings for the latest reported quarter. The stock has performed fairly well, up over 50% during the last twelve months.

Author did not own VIA-B at the time of publication.

By Fred Fuld at

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