Aug 3, 2006

Mark Cuban: Read the SOaP EW article

Mark Cuban needs to read the Entertainment Weekly article about Snakes on a Plane, the new movie coming out staring Samuel L. Jackson. Maybe he can take some lessons from this movie and apply them to his question he posed to his readers of how to market a movie for less than 60 million. The article has a few points to make.

Have a creative title
"So imagine Jackson's surprise when he arrived on the set in Vancouver last summer to find that Snakes had been retitled Pacific Air 121. According to New Line president Toby Emmerich, the switch was made to project a veneer of class; apparently, they couldn't get actors to consider working on a project called Snakes on a Plane. But Jackson says the explanation he got was that New Line ''didn't want to give too much away'' about the movie. ''I was like, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR F---ING MINDS?! That's EXACTLY what you want to do!'' he says, twitching with agitation. ''How else are you going to get people into the movie? Nobody wants to see Pacific Air 121. That's like saying Boat to Heaven. People either want to see this movie or they don't. So let 'em know: If you're coming to see this movie, you're going to see a plane full of deadly-ass snakes. That's what it should be called. Deadly-Ass Snakes on a Plane.'' He slaps his hands loudly three times for emphasis. ''COME ON!''

Even Samuel L. gets it. Creativity and smarts is at every step of the way, which includes choosing a strong title. That is one step, one piece of the marketing pie. So Mark Cuban, make sure the movie you are charged with marketing has a good title that people can latch onto. And in all fairness, you owe it to your audience to tell them what to expect with a clear title.
Audience as Collaborator
"...but Berenson credits the changes to the lobbying of an active, vocal fan base. And Heffernan goes so far as to call the fans ''co-creators'' of the film...But should fans be allowed any input into the artistic process during the actual making of a film? Jackson offers a qualified yes: ''Films are a collaborative process, and this is the next step. If a film is vying for that mass teen dollar, then yes, they have every right to say: This is the kind of film we want to see. Films of social relevance — well, no.''

Samuel L. gets it, Juliana does not.
Fan interaction
"Instead of cracking down on fan-generated content with cease-and-desist letters..., New Line has been quietly feeding items to, the hub of SoaP fandom, offering official materials for use on unofficial sites, and turning on the charm.

Still, SoaP has many admirers in Hollywood, where every studio, mindful of the maturation of both YouTube and MySpace, is currently desperate to reach young pop junkies online. ''Snakes is a powerful indication of how you can use the Internet to engage the audience and capture their imagination with just a concept,'' says Peter Rice, president of Fox Atomic and Fox Searchlight. And Fox marketing president Pam Levine believes the kind of online creativity inspired by Snakes will soon evolve to a point where fans become less interested in playing with Hollywood movies and more interested in making their own."

Mark Cuban says he is doing all the viral/web 2.0/social stuff already, but has he questioned if he's doing it right? Perhaps slapping up myspace profiles of movie characters and seeding youtube with movie trailers is not as engaging as he thinks it might be. True engagement is when a person is invested in the success of a project. Why would the audience be concerned if a movie does well? Why would they want to support it? It's this type of self-involvement people want to feel about a movie sometimes. Provide it.

(Source: the nice person who left their copy of EW at the gym for me to read while on the elyptical machine)

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