This weekend marks the opening of the much anticipated sci-fi film Cloud Atlas, and a lot of people are planning on seeing it. Many have already watched a good chunk though -- seven minutes worth. Not through illegal downloads, mind you, but with the help of a giant trailer released online by the film's studio. It's part of a growing strategy in the movie making business: Use every technology possible to hype a film.
Forrest Wickman helps write a regular feature at Slate Magazine called The Trailer Critic, which is exactly what it sounds like. He says there's more marketing material than ever for us to digest. “Now you have the stills and set photos,” says Wickman, “the trailer for the trailer, then the trailer. There’s trailers for commentary, which is not something you would’ve ever gotten in the theater.”
Even the old DVD bonus features have gone mobile. Rian Johnson, who directed time travel action flick Looper, made a directors commentary MP3 and encouraged people to download it and play it on their phone or iPod while watching the movie a second time in the theater. Johnson says the commentary was for people who wanted to see the film a second time, but it’s also part of a strategy to engage his viewers in any and all ways.
“That’s something that for a while now that I’ve really enjoyed doing,” says Johnson. “Even with my first movie ‘Brick’, I created a message board on my website where people could come and ask me questions about the movie, and now I’m answering a lot of questions on Twitter. It’s something that I’ve just always enjoyed doing, even before I had movies that people were going to see and wanting to talk about. And so this kind of feels like a natural extension of that I guess.”
Is he worried it’s a bit much, and that people are starting to know too much before heading to the theater? He is.
“I mean I actually tried to use social media a little bit to negate that,” says Johnson. “When the first trailer came out for ‘Looper’ I said if you’re planning on seeing the movie, don’t see any of the trailers. When they ask me questions on Twitter, the bigger question for me is how much I engage with that. Does that kind of destroy the discussion about it? I don’t know, it’s something I’m still trying to figure out.
It's Windows 8 day one, but where are all the apps? The programs that make Apple and Android devices so useful are mostly missing. Windows 8 is starting with a few thousand -- compare that to a quarter million available for Apple.
We caught up with Frank Gillett of Forrester Research at the big kick-off event in New York. Gillett says, "Even though you could argue that the market here is 400 million PC's in the first year, that's not the question. The question is how many people are actually going to open their wallets and start buying Windows 8 apps or just running their old apps from their old PC's in the desktop mode."
"Developers are everything when it comes to birthing a new platform," says Al Hilwa, who directs IDC's app development research. He says app builders have to come to grips with the Windows 8 philosophy, "The lynchpin, soft of, of its strategy is to bring all of those developers that have historically written a lot of the PC apps and kind of turn them into mobile developers over time."
What Microsoft could use is an app that everybody is dying for that is only on Windows 8 -- that happened for a few apps on Apple's iOS.
"Angry Birds -- you know its real success was on iOS, and a lot of people -- whether this says something about humanity or not -- went out and picked up an iOS device to play things like Angry Birds," says Wes Miller of the consultancy Directions on Microsoft.
Angry Birds in one thing, what Microsoft is worried about first is angry customers who might be rattled by all the changes in Windows 8.