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Ingenious Marketing Campaigns That Catapulted Movies to Success

Ingenious Marketing Campaigns That Catapulted Movies to Success

Today, mainstream movies are more expensive than they’ve ever been. As movies wrestle with how to market in today’s media landscape, it’s time to look back at ingenious marketing campaigns that catapulted movies to success, often on a shoestring budget.
Marketing With the Internet

Without the internet, a lot of the most memorable marketing campaigns wouldn’t exist. The ability to reach a wider audience, through an interactive format distinct from commercials, has been a massive benefit to the industry. Even then, it’s one that most projects fail to leverage in a way that makes a splash.

The average moviegoer is also a lot more sophisticated thanks to the internet. They have thousands of blogs, social media feeds, and other platforms that help them gain insight into movie-making and the media landscape as a whole. This isn’t unique to media, it’s something that happens in e-commerce and online entertainment too. Just like with movies, fans of activities like playing casino games online can find all the information they need to make better-informed decisions about the services they use. They can access Stake casino reviews with pros and cons displayed for the site, learning more about the service than they would without the internet. The same can be said for movie studios, their directors, and even the actors in those movies, as most have a social media presence nowadays.
Three Ingenious Marketing Campaigns

Paranormal Activity

Made with a production budget of just $15,000 (plus $215,000 post-production), the first Paranormal Activity movie became a box office phenomenon that brought in nearly $200 million. It was more than a successful movie, however, as it launched Blumhouse into the mainstream. To this day, they’re still one of the most successful studios out there simply because Blumhouse keeps budgets small. They make a lot of projects and, when they hit, they become cultural moments.

To market Paranormal Activity, Blumhouse held screenings across the world and gave horror audiences what they wanted – scares. Specifically, footage of other people watching the film and being scared. It was effective, and infinitely shareable on the internet in 2007, when viral marketing was still young.
The Blair Witch Project

Before Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project was the most famous, low-budget hit to come out of the horror genre. Made for about $60,000 (to as much as $750,000 in post-production), everybody knows the movie’s plot by now. Three filmmakers enter the woods looking to investigate the Blair Witch and go missing, but they leave some spooky footage behind. That footage is the movie, pioneering the 'found footage' genre, explained here by Studio Binder.

To market the Blair Witch, they did something that was probably a whole lot easier back in 1999 – they pretended its characters were real people who were actually missing. They created a proto-ARG involving a website and faked missing posters of the characters. The actors weren’t invited to its Cannes premiere and even had IMDb pages that claimed they were dead. Going into first screenings, some thought it was a macabre crime documentary like the kind you’d see on Netflix today.

Away from the horror genre, Chronicle is another found footage movie that put actors like Michael B. Jordan and Dane DeHaan on the map. It had a considerably larger budget at $15 million and leaned into a lot of traditional marketing practices, ultimately bringing in over $126 million at the box office. Presented as a video diary, it showed how three different personalities were affected by receiving the same set of powers.

The image of three plainclothed men flying through the air was at the center of Chronicle’s marketing strategy. It was used in posters, in the trailer, and then in real life. Uploaded to YouTube, the marketing team created special man-shaped drones and flew them over New York in the daytime. Their video, and bystander videos from the ground, quickly went viral. Today, the production video has 9.1 million views, more than any trailer of the movie uploaded on YouTube.

These marketing campaigns, and other similar guerilla marketing efforts, can conjure box office returns out of seemingly thin air. In the age of big-budget movies with even bigger marketing budgets, studios should learn from their example and try to capture innovative, viral moments that can propel a project to success. This kind of marketing doesn't have to be expensive and, when it works, it can pay off tenfold.