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Published on May 17th, 2010 | by Rob Cumiskey


How to Market a Movie…

Well, I haven’t posted here in quite a while. Thought I’d return with the odd post…they’ll mainly be film related, so I hope you’ll have me back 🙂


J.J. Abrams is the real deal. I’m sure most of you know this by now. Love or hate Lost, it’s one of the most spoken about TV shows of the 21st century (One way or another, I’m sure most of of want to find out how it’s going to finish) Fringe is a cult TV hit. Cloverfield was a viral success and Star Trek, released last year, was a triumph both critically and financially. It’s becoming quite clear that Abrams just has it. Has what though? Well, if you look at the footage of the teaser trailer of his next film, I think you’ll get an idea of what this guy is doing right.

This movie had not been mentioned anywhere until three weeks ago. He seeded news of the new movie strategically on film news sites like this one and the news began to filter quickly into the mainstream. All we knew was that he was releasing a new film that was titled ‘Super 8’. We were then told that we would be getting a snippet from the film in front of Iron Man 2 in cinemas across the states. Folk stateside saw this two weeks ago, and we have a handheld camera clip from Youtube released online. After watching the trailer, we still know very little about the film. Last week saw Apple release a full HD trailer for the movie. It’s quite something! He has even added some of his now signature watermarks on the footage for super fans to discover. See this one below for a taste of things to come:


Abrams puts little clues like this in watermarks throught his trailers and movies.


Abrams believes in mystery. Anyone that has watched Lost over the years knows that we rarely fully understand what is going on. He does this on purpose. Watch his TED talk from 2007 and he explains, using his own mystery box, that giving away too much, in this age of immediacy, does not make for great entertainment. It merely hands people what they want, and once people get what they want…well they’re not interested or entertained any more.

For further reading, you can pull up his essay on Mystery on Wired from a while back, or check out Geek Dad’s mystery box replication blog write up. It’s clear to me though that Abrams has this down. Instead of releasing the plot of film that you’re doing the third remake of three years before it’s released, he gives us a title and a release date. Instead of following the plot outline with countless spoiler trailers that essentially give you the good bits of the movie, he gives us a teaser. And instead of having his fans finally go to see a film that they already know everything about and leave the cinema feeling pretty unsatisfied, we go in curious, knowing nothing about his film. Surely this is entertainment as it should be. So, would you open the mystery box?

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Pop Culture fanatic, Aston Villa supporter, lover of penguins.

4 Responses to How to Market a Movie…

  1. Emlyn says:

    Wow, actually adding some geniune mystery to a movie in this age of the-trailer-pretty-much-says-it-all. JJA is my hero!

  2. Niall says:

    Christopher Nolan has done it very well and very effectively with Inception. I do believe though that it helps to have pull in Hollywood otherwise the studio won’t let you try this kind of marketing.

  3. Bngr says:

    Can I just rant here for a minute, it’s all very well JJ Abrams being philosophical and supercillous about mystery, and it is up there with the best of emotions but he totally cried wolf with Lost to the point that I wouldn’t trust seeing anything he’d done. There’s one thing creating a mystery and teasing people with it slowly and drawing it out to full force before resolution; there’s another thing creating a mystery, then creating 500 more mysteries and resolving none of them and expecting people to have any faith in you.

    rant over.

  4. Rob Cumiskey says:

    Hey Blots…yeah, Lost turned into a bit of a mess. I’m still a fan, but Abramd doesn’t actually write it himself. He just produces…

    I agree though, think it’s been a victim of it’s own mystery of late.

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