The film Paranormal Activity was one of the biggest low budget hits of the last couple of years. Made for under $15,000, the film had a long journey stuck in distribution hell, and almost got a big budget remake, before being released and making over $100 million worldwide.
One of the promotional tools that they used to hype the film were preview screening. Why do people see a film like this? Because they want to be scared. If lots of people are saying that your film is scary, then it’s pretty attractive to the target audience, so the previews worked well.
For the upcoming sequel, the producers are taking this one step further. Using a website application, fans can “demand” that the film is released in their city. The cities that generate the most requests will get midnight previews the day before the film releases across the country. 250,000 fans have won free tickets to these screenings.
This is a great strategy. A quarter million people, who are already fans, will come out of their free and exclusive screening and rave about the film online and in person. This should give a huge word-of-mouth boost to the ticket sales the next day, which should then flow on to a bigger international release.
That’s the plan anyway. If everyone walks out and says the film sucks, however, it could be a very different story 🙂