Even before that blockbuster lures lineups at TIFF, a good film has to have a powerful trailer. But it's not enough for a trailer to tease moviegoers; it has to reach them in innovative ways.
When Canada's Maple Pictures wanted to get the word out about Young People Fucking, they sent the trailer to TV networks. Based on the title, though, the company had a tough time even getting the Advertising Standards Council to look at it. So Maple marketing director Joanna Miles took the next logical step. She posted the trailer on YouTube under her own account.
That's standard practice for film studios, and the online technique worked. The spot had more than 36,000 hits in two months on YouTube. Then Miles went a step further. She filmed a "woman on the street" video starring Toronto women checking out clips from Young People Fucking on a portable DVD player. The clip wasn't shown, but the positive reactions were broadcast. That piece of marketing smarts garnered more than 114,000 views in two months.
"We want to get people talking, get people curious," Miles says about promoting trailers.
The public also perk up their ears when they hear the word "exclusive," she adds, so Lionsgate (which Maple distributes) signed an exclusive deal with MTV.com to broadcast the trailer of Frank Miller's The Spirit. A second trailer deal was inked with Yahoo and Cineplex, the latter a no-brainer because "We wanted to solidify our relationship with a company in the business of getting moviegoers to go to movies," Miles says.
At Comic-Con in July, attendees were treated to trailers of The Spirit and Twilight - based on Stephenie Meyer's young-adult bestseller - in order to generate early buzz about the pics, due in theatres in December.
Bringing trailers to these geekfests is always a wise move; who better than blogging fanboys to promote vampire flicks and graphic-novel adaptations?
Matt Dentler took a different tack. As marketing manager at Cinetic Rights Management in New York, he's responsible for getting indie titles into the public eye, often through online promotion.
Back-catalogue titles are resurrected for a generation that may have missed out on, say, 1994's Hoop Dreams. Dentler tells NOW he successfully marketed Hoop Dreams to a sports audience instead of a film audience who likely saw the indie classic. He approached Yahoo sports blog Ball Don't Lie and men's lifestyle blogs to emphasize why the film is newsworthy.
"We were upfront with Hoop Dreams, publicizing the news release as much as we could," Dentler says. "We tend to go through the front door rather than the back door."
Finally, studios can accidentally "leak" a trailer on sites like YouTube. Miles remembers first seeing the upcoming Lionsgate film trailer for W, the George W. Bush biopic, and wondering how it found a home on YouTube in the first place.
"The buzz with my friends was ‘Have you seen the W trailer? It's going to be great.' I'm not sure if Lionsgate did that on purpose, but it did them a huge service."
Screening trailers to captive audiences in theatres is only half the marketing strategy. Forward-thinking studios also put their money into getting trailers online as transparently as possible, if only to get the hype machine chugging along.