With the usual rush of sequels and comicbook adaptations, 2009 is a lot like any other year when it comes to Hollywood's output. When it comes to the marketing those films, however, it may be anything but traditional.
As Warner Bros. proved last year with The Dark Knight, a successful viral marketing campaign is now crucial to the success of a film. It's no longer enough to rush television sets with 15 second spots and plaster billboards up in major metropolitan areas. A buzz needs to be created. Welcome to Facebook.
A handful of releases have already set up shop on the social networking site with varying degrees of success. Here, B OXOFFICE rates the effectiveness of these pages.
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: March 6, 2009
After the legal battle that went down between 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. over the rights to director Zack Snyder's ( 300 ) latest film, Watchmen needs all the positive hype it can muster. Luckily, the Facebook page is pretty well put together and it currently has 185,407 fans, and it should reach 200,000 before it lands in theatres.
While Watchmen has a strong Facebook presence, early reviews that have snuck out on the web certainly have not been too kind. This is a film that will probably end up pleasing its core fan base while struggling to find the broader audience it needs to recoup its $100 million budget.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: May 1, 2009
The problem with X-Men Origins: Wolverine is that it has too many fan-created sites, so the message gets spread out. The worst thing about fan sites is they don't have any unique content from the film, and they tend to become slightly abandoned due to a lack of general interest. The Wolverine page with the most fans has only 29,507.
Still, the lack of Facebook mobilization probably doesn't indicate a general lack of interest. After all, the film boasts a similar release to the one that Iron Man found success with in 2008, and in a recent survey by MovieTickets.com, 35% of 5,197 respondents said that they were looking forward to Wolverine the most this spring.
Release Date: May 8, 2009
As is the case with any rebooting of a franchise, Paramount will need to not only mobilize the fan base, but also develop some new Trekkies for the lastest trip to the Star Trek universe. The Facebook page that they've set up for the film is very well done and it currently has 145,649 fans, which means that it could sneak up on 200,000 before hitting theatres.
Fast & Furious
Release Date: April 3, 2009
Despite not opening until April 3, the page for the fourth installment in the series already boasts nearly 230,000 fans. This film could easily be a much bigger hit than anticipated.
Universal has wisely used the popularity of the page to promote other upcoming releases such as Duplicity, Funny People and The Wolfman. While the usual downloads are here, the most interesting part of the page is the photos that fans have uploaded. Nearly all of the 733 photos are of the cars that belong to Fast & Furious junkies.
G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra
Release Date: August 7, 2009
This August release received some quality exposure from the Super Bowl, and its Facebook page already boasts nearly 24,231 fans. G.I. Joe already has more fans than the biggest Wolverine page, and it's hitting theatres more than three months after that film.
Fast & Furious, the most interesting thing on the page is the pictures that the fans have uploaded of their G.I. Joe action figure collections. Comparing the ultra-sleek stills from the film to the dated toys is good for a laugh.