A Great Idea – No a Really Bad One – Aww, I Give Up

The movie business has been in trouble for a little while. People aren’t going to the theatres as often as they used to.

Sure one could point to new entertainment options, the crazy high ticket and concession prices, and the gamble that one might likely get just another corporate owned studio’s formulaic sequel-hoping franchise instead of something worth $10-$15 and a couple hours. Instead it’s easier to demonize piracy and dvd’s as the real problems.

Don’t think it’s just me whining. The head of a very prominent film organization in Los Angeles and the director of classic films that you’ve heard of and seen lamented to me personally about how unoriginal many of the films that were being put out were getting due to the film industry being pressured into following rules of the rest of the business world. And that was a couple years before the film industry started getting worried about the turnout slowdown.

So what am I to make of this new promotional idea for films? Someone is going to win a $50k scholarship for the best fan film page on a social networking site (e.g. MySpace, Friendster, etc.) for the upcoming film, We are Marshall.

My first thought was, “Wow, what a great idea!” $50,000 is pretty cheap advertising to get press about the movie to be picked up in all sorts of different media, people talking about the film, and lots of Web pages with promotional material and links to their movie’s main site.

Then, I started worrying about the authenticity of these sites because no one will have seen the movie yet. You see, the contest ends the day the movie premiers. That’s like picking your favorite dancer before the season premier of Dancing with the Stars. Or so my wife tells me. I watch shows that your tv won’t even project if you don’t have enough testosterone and aren’t enjoying steak and beer at the time.

The problem is that movies have such a short shelf life and a lot depends on opening weekend. I just don’t know if this is the right way to go. Like judging or protesting a movie that hasn’t opened and you’ve never seen.

Still, interesting idea.

Barely Tangential Note #1: My wife, who used to be a literary manager in Hollywood, helps aspiring screenwriters get their scripts ready for the film industry. If you or anyone you know would like to break into that scene and can use some help, check her out at Pro Script Notes. Obviously, I’m biased, but if you check her out and compare to other options out there, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And cut me a break: if I’m writing about movies, I have to give her a plug.

BTN #2: Even though Marshall University is in West Virginia and the state is very close-knit generally, don’t make the mistake that every (or most) West Virginian you run into likes Marhsall. My aforementioned wife of no West Virginia higher educational affiliation, was wearing a Marshall t-shirt the other day. My father, a WVU graduate, told her he’d buy her two new shirts if she’d take that one off and burn it. And Marshall grads feel the same about the Mountaineers.

Justin Seibert

About The Author

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, Advertising Age, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

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