Exhibitors will have the chance to bring 3D fans and horror fans together with Lionsgate's My Bloody Valentine 3D

Marketing Horror in 3D

on December 13, 2008 by Phil Contrino
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At this October’s ShowEast, exhibitors were treated to an extended preview of Lionsgate’s My Bloody Valentine 3D. Without revealing any specifics, anybody who was in attendance would describe the clip as literally eye-popping.

Considering that 2008 brought with it such family-friendly 3D films as Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Fly Me to the Moon and Bolt, My Bloody Valentine 3D will start 2009 off on a much different note as far as 3D movies is concerned.

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While Bloody Valentine certainly marks a change of pace from recent 3D output, the combination of horror and 3D is nothing new. 1953’s House of Wax, starring horror icon Vincent Price, was presented in 3D, as was Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein in 1973. As a result, older audiences may feel a bit nostalgic when they see that the horror genre has returned to the realm of 3D.

The horror genre in general is still going very strong. Saw V proved in October that audiences will enthusiastically head to theatres if they know they are going to be given a good jolt. Meanwhile, in the world of 3D, Disney’s Bolt represented the largest digital 3D release yet after it opened on approximately 979 3D screens in November.

Now, with My Bloody Valentine 3D, exhibitors will need to find a way to reach out to fans of 3D and fans of horror, two very big groups to say the least.

Robert Marich, author of "Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Edition" thinks that theatre owners can have some fun by referencing the 3D film’s recent public image when considering how to sell My Bloody Valentine.

“This is a rare instance where I'd play off the technology of a film, in this case 3D,” Marich tells B OXOFFICE via email. “Could be something creative like ‘You saw Hannah Montana in 3D, but this time it won't be concert confetti you'll see flying across the screens.’ I recommend something that taps into prior 3D successes but suggests Bloody Valentine is a step forward.”

But, Marich warns that it’s crucial not to market the film to audiences that are too young to see it.

“As an R-rated film, and a hard R at that based on the CARA description, theaters should be very careful to limit marketing placements to age-appropriate platforms. I think this will be a huge challenge because what I assume is the prime audience—males just over age 17—are hard to market to, separated from younger, age-inappropriate males.”

Reaching audiences in the theatre lobby with creative marketing is crucial to the success of Bloody Valentine, considering that the 3D trailer for the film was not suitable for audiences that went to see the likes of Fly Me to the Moon and Bolt.

For Carlo Petrick, manager, communications and marketing for Marcus Theatres, the key to Bloody Valentine ’s success will be making sure that 3D fans are aware of it, and then hopefully building on that loyal audience.

“We really call attention to the 3D features in our newspaper directory ads so that people know about them. We have a built in audience of people who have experienced 3D already and I think the excitement and word of mouth is going to be very positive for a horror feature in 3D,” says Petrick.

Theatre owners should also seek out free marketing techniques on the internet to help gain attention for Bloody Valentine. For example, all exhibitors should become familiar with Facebook. The social networking site can be used to start a group or official page for a theatre, and from there, owners can send out messages to their members, as well as local fans of film itself who acknowledge interest in a movie by featuring its page in their Facebook profile.

Horror buffs flock to Facebook to support their favorite films. The official Facebook page that was set up for Saw V had 55,333 fans as of press time. These official pages encourage interaction between film enthusiasts, which help exhibitors gauge interest in a particular movie and cater promotions to their interests. Plus, Facebook is made up of a larger amount of college-aged moviegoers who account for a good portion of the strong domestic grosses of recent horror films. If theatre owners can help Bloody Valentine catch on with these younger audiences by using social networking sites, then more horror flicks could follow suit and the genre as a whole may expand.

Steve Rothenberg, Lionsgate’s President of Distribution, is confident that My Bloody Valentine will really advance the 3D platform during what will be a crucial year for the technology.

"The quality of today's digital 3D is leaps and bounds beyond old-fashioned, paper-glasses 3D. Filmmakers and film audiences alike are flocking to digital 3D films because of the extraordinary experience,” he writes in an email to B OXOFFICE. “Horror is a perfect genre for 3D because it amplifies the terror, by allowing audiences to be fully immersed in the environment. We feel My Bloody Valentine 3D is the perfect project to take Lionsgate's proven genre record to a new level.”

This article appears in the January 2009 issue of B OXOFFICE magazine. Read the rest of the issue here .

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