Here’s a quick look at some of my absolute favorite movie marketing websites.
More and more, entertainment marketing teams are beginning to realize that there are significant depths to be plumbed within the extended universes of franchises. With so much emphasis placed on the millennial fan base, these teams have begun leveraging this information by creating extraordinary marketing websites that go far beyond what you might have seen even 7 years ago.
These websites are usually unique in that they are very specific to the movie they are marketing. They also can serve different purposes. One might exist purely to demonstrate that the creators and marketing team understand the expansive universe their movie (and characters!) inhabit, thereby building trust within their fan base that will later translate to increased movie tickets. Others are mainly used to spur its readers to take part in some overarching marketing scheme. And still others exist purely to entertain their readers.
The following websites were all incredibly savvy ways of leveraging interest in an upcoming movie by giving fans something they didn’t know they wanted: a marketing campaign that didn’t behave like a run-of-the-mill marketing campaign. It gave them something more, a taste of what was to come.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
The first website, The Bent Bullet, uses parts of a discarded screenplay to create one website about the alternative history arc where Magneto was imprisoned for attempting to kill JFK (The Bent Bullet). It’s essentially an in-depth article exploring the involvement of mutants in one of the most seminal moments in American history – a shocking and incredibly ballsy narrative decision that worked extraordinarily well.
The second website is a typical marketing website…for a company that doesn’t exist. Trask Industries, the company behind the Sentinels (the primary antagonist in the movie), has a full-fledged website, complete with testimonials, talking heads, and a biography for Bolivar Trask.
The Amazing Spiderman (2012) and The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014)
Any Spiderman fan worth their salt knows the importance of the Daily Bugle to the everyday life of Peter Parker. The marketing team for this film franchise took that to new heights by creating a Daily Tumblr site very similar to the gossip rag Peter worked for. It includes interviews with major characters, retrospectives on events that happened within the films (and even outside the films), and of course, a few bombastic editorials by J. Jonah Jameson.
Monsters University (2013)
I was in college when this site debuted, so I got a kick out of reading all the minutiae the Pixar team put into this website. My friends and I poured over the rich history of Monsters University, including their application cycle, student activities, courses, faculty profiles, and on and on. It is simply the perfect blend of realism and fantasy. I may not have been excited about the movie prior to finding this, but after spending half an hour on the site (and wishing I’d been able to apply, Harvard be damned), I was sold.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The granddaddy of them all.
I’ll never forget the day I was surfing a cable box’s On Demand videos in early 2008 and discovered a treasure trove of fake newscasts from Gotham City. They included live interviews with secondary characters, like the Mayor of Gotham, and citizen’s perspectives on the crime spree by that crazed maniac with the war paint on his face.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. 13 websites total, all of which related back to some aspect of the “realistic grit” of Gotham that the brothers Nolan wanted to convey in their films. These websites (especially Why So Serious) were all coupled with viral campaigns that asked fans to take part in real-life activities, like looking for clues in cities across the world in exchange for memorabilia and passes to early screenings.
And, of course, almost all of them have since been defaced by the Joker.
Citizens for Batman
City of Gotham Police Department
Clown Travel Agency
Concerned Citizens for a Better Gotham
Dana Worthington for Gotham City DA.
Gotham Cable News
Gotham City Clerk
Gotham Election Board
Gotham Police Major Crimes Unit
Gotham Victims Advocate Foundation
The Gotham Times
Why So Serious
Do you have a favorite movie marketing website that’s a little unorthodox? Share it with me in the comments.