DIARY: Tales from Tinseltown - Wicked success of Blair Witch is a triumph for Artisan’s Pflug

On Monday July 26, Paul Pflug, SVP of national publicity for Artisan Entertainment, woke up to read weighty profiles of his company in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.

On Monday July 26, Paul Pflug, SVP of national publicity for Artisan Entertainment, woke up to read weighty profiles of his company in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.

On Monday July 26, Paul Pflug, SVP of national publicity for

Artisan Entertainment, woke up to read weighty profiles of his company

in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street

Journal.



It was a defining moment for Artisan. On the back of a micro-budget

horror film, The Blair Witch Project, the national consumer media had

discovered the company for the first time.



Indeed, Blair Witch demonstrated how much ink and airtime one company

can generate for itself as long as it comes up with a good story.



Artisan acquired the rights to Blair Witch for just over dollars 1

million at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Little did it know

then that the mock- documentary would become one of the most

talked-about films of the year.



Released on 27 screens on July 17, Blair Witch is now on more than

1,000, and, as of presstime, had grossed over dollars 30 million. Some

box office analysts predict that it will hit dollars 100 million, making

it one of the most profitable films of all time. Rival distributors, of

course, are scratching their heads in disbelief.



The privately-held Artisan is backed by several venture capital groups,

but the company has made no secret of its desire to go public in the

near future. It was therefore vital to capitalize on the success of

Blair Witch and get the attention of Wall Street.



In his piece in the WSJ, Bruce Orwall noted Artisan’s large film library

and described the company as a ’studio.’ You could almost hear the

Artisan execs uncorking the champagne. Powered by Blair Witch, articles

about Artisan have also appeared in Premiere, Fortune and Worth

magazines, while senior company execs have been interviewed on CNN and

CNBC.



The fact that Artisan is benefiting from the hype afforded Blair Witch

is testament to the prowess of Pflug, who joined the company in March

from the Los Angeles firm of Bragman, Nyman & Caferelli. Many in the

industry were surprised when Pflug chose to depart his agency

partnership for Artisan.



But on July 26, as one admirer put it, Pflug experienced what ’every

publicist dreams about.’



Ultimately, the success of Blair Witch is mostly due to the company’s

savvy use of the Internet as a marketing tool - much of Artisan’s work

was done for it in advance by the filmmakers, who were creating web

sites even before they had written the script. Artisan took something

small and made it big.



Last week, a Blair Witch site link even found its way on to the

all-important news headlines section of the Yahoo! home page - something

that few studio films ever achieve. All in all, not bad for a film that

cost five first-time filmmakers dollars 60,000 to make.



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