TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Hollywood continues to unravel the secrets of Web site publicity

Two weeks ago in this space, I shared my conversations with Blair Witch mastermind Harry Clein about the hype and glory surrounding the film’s Web site, which raised the bar to Shaquille O’Neal heights.

Two weeks ago in this space, I shared my conversations with Blair Witch mastermind Harry Clein about the hype and glory surrounding the film’s Web site, which raised the bar to Shaquille O’Neal heights.

Two weeks ago in this space, I shared my conversations with Blair

Witch mastermind Harry Clein about the hype and glory surrounding the

film’s Web site, which raised the bar to Shaquille O’Neal heights.



The question, of course, is what’s next - and don’t think that Hollywood

PR and new media types are lacking for answers.



’Expectations have been fueled more, perhaps, by the attendant publicity

about the site than the site itself,’ says Don Buckley, SVP of new media

at Warner Bros. ’The film’s heat said ’the Internet did it,’ which has

been mostly good for people who do what I do. There’s greater awareness

and support of the medium among studios and filmmakers - and, in some

cases, bigger budgets.’



Web sites precede a film’s release by months, allowing sneak peaks at

photos and trailers, even second-guessing of casting decisions. Case in

point: Frank Herbert’s Dune, the upcoming six-hour Sci-Fi Channel

miniseries based on the seminal 1964 novel.



Sci-fi buffs tend to be fiercely possessive of the genre’s celebrated

works and closely scrutinize any adaptations. Hence Frank Herbert’s

Dune, in part due to the unsatisfying 1984 cinematic adaptation, is

being eyeballed like the last doughnut in a police station.



Craig Engler, who’s doing the Frank Herbert’s Dune Web site, says fans

sounded off about the cast from the get-go. He claims reaction was

mostly favorable, though some skepticism was directed toward newcomer

Alec Newman in the lead role. However, the majority of Newman’s critics

hadn’t even seen the Scotland native act - unless they happened to be

pub-crawling in Edinburgh and stepped into a theater by mistake.



’Web sites extend a show’s viewing experience by leading up to airdate

with information and then providing a forum for viewer discussion

afterwards,’ Engler explains. ’Sites also promote secondary selling

points that a mainstream campaign may not emphasize - such as, in Dune’s

case, empowered women’s roles.’



Even Oscar loves the Web. At the podium, an exuberant visual effects

designer for The Matrix exhorted everyone to check out the film’s

site.



Traffic at whatisthematrix.com immediately jumped nearly 1,000%. Only

Milton Berle was left watching the show.



And Hollywood Web sites generate print press. The Lord of the Rings’

site registered 1.7 million hits on its opening day, grabbing ink in

Newsweek for surpassing the record set by Phantom Menace. For

perspective, 1.7 million is more than the number of people who like

asparagus, but only a sixth of those who watch pro wrestling every

week.



The next logical step? Producers casting projects based on Web

reactions, or studios conducting online test screenings. This would,

alas, rob Simi Valley - which hosts many such funfests - of its

reflected Hollywood glamour.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.