Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Paranormal Activity: The 3 Reasons it Worked
Paranormal Activity, the Halloween movie phenomenon of 2009 has come and gone. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go do some homework, because I'm going to talk fast on this one to get to the good parts.
Basically this horror movie, shot in 2007 with a budget of $15,000 ends up blowing up from a very small theater launch to a nation wide launch within 2 weeks and ends up beating what was supposed to be the Halloween weekend movie "shoe-in" Saw VI. Impossible you say?
Now that we're on the same page, let's get to the heart of what we all are wondering. How & why did this movie magic happen? Let's look at 3 of the strongest.
First: It's a good product
It's got a great story. The movie bounced around to a lot of film festivals in the last couple of years and somehow found it's way into Steven Spielberg's hands. He liked it, but didn't feel like re-making the movie and putting a $50 million dollar budget into it would give the same feeling. So Paramount picked it up and started testing it in a small launch in late summer 2009.
So Steven Spielberg liked it. That would explain why this movie got some early momentum where hundreds of other films do not. Having a movie god watch your movie and put his stamp of approval on it is a huge piece of this puzzle. This at least gave Paramount the confidence that they had a good product. Putting it simply the movie was scary.
The product had to be good in order for the rest of the pieces to work.
Second: Influencers Attack!
Here's where social media comes in. Release something remarkable into the wild in a very limited quantity and give everyone who gets their hands on it a megaphone. This is exactly what the limited release did for Paranormal Activity.
The limited release was intregal because it made the people who watched it feel special. We know the product was good, which makes people want to share. The audiences also knew that they were watching something that others couldn't and that gave the them even more reason to share. This message flowed from web influencers directly to blogs & social networks and this is where the perfect storm starts to build momentum.
Another example was the movie's team up with Revision 3 and the very small but powerful group that got to see it before ANYONE else that gave it even more push. Read more about that here.
Third: Timing is everything...oh and Relevance too.
Paramount timed this storm out rather perfectly. They created a huge buzz and gave everyone the power to jump on the Paranormal Activity website and demand the movie come to their local theater. The website boasted that if they got to 1 million votes, the movie would open nationwide. Reminds me of the old MTV demand scheme in the 80's only instead of taking years, this built up enough steam in weeks because of the speed of social media.
The timing even made was more brilliant due to the fact that the final "Big Win" reached fever pitch only days before Halloween. A Halloween that was on a weekend and only had 1 big horror movie coming out (Saw VI) that was a very tired tradition in the first place. Relevance, Relevance and more Relevance.
This movie was not as much of a surprise as it seems. The build up and marketing strategy was there and it had a plan that worked. They started with a great product, made a huge buzz utilizing social media & word of mouth and then timed it perfectly to be most relevant to the most consumers.
A great play and one that I believe can be repeated.