Movie marketing and promotion is the essential hidden juggernaut behind all films. In order to get the crowds into theaters movie studios have to come up with new, and often expensive ways, to promote their movie. Take the latest James Bond film Spectre. The film was made for $250 million yet had to make more than $650 million to break even. The math doesn’t add up until you include the marketing and promotion cost which film experts Variety put as over $100 million. However as technology moves forward movie studios are using new ways to get their films noticed including using new digital technologies such as VR. Could VR fitness integrations pave the way for new revenue streams for major films and thus create a whole new industry of story telling through activity?
One recent example of VR being used for film promotion was last year’s Marvel Cinematic Universe film Doctor Strange. Science fiction and fantasy site Blastr reported that “Marvel has teamed up with RealD 3D to create some legit Doctor Strange magic via VR, designed to re-create the look of the magic and mystical realms overlaid with reality.” In collaboration with creative agency Denizen, three Google Tilt Brush artists were hired to create the environments in the three cities that play a major part in the film: New York, London, and Hong Kong.
Screenrant revealed that the three artists used the VR to paint their own VR environments inspired by the cities and the film’s stunning visuals. For example, artist Danny Bittman transformed New York “into a contorted pixelate dream world” much like many sequences from the film. You may not think Tilt Brush is much of a workout, but if the industry and integrations had been further along, it’s entirely possible that a VR Fitness experience would have been created where players would have been able to be Dr. Strange himself and square off with the nefarious Dormammu just like in the climax of the film.
That aside, once the virtual worlds were made Venture Beat wrote that fans were able to explore the creations in a 50-square-foot space. They go onto state, “the VR industry is establishing itself as a destination technology. While Analysts predict that VR could generate as much as $40 billion by 2020, most of the money right now is going to mobile solutions like Samsung’s Gear VR and companies like Denizen that are providing work-for hire solutions to bring this technology to major companies like Marvel and Disney.” The engagement was there and the fans ate it up–just imagine if they had been more engaged by being able to actually be the hero! Doctor Strange was both critically and financially successful demonstrating that alongside quality film making it also got the marketing right. We can expect to see more big franchise films take advantage of VR in the near future and hopefully with more physical interaction for the user.
Fan interaction is becoming ever more present in film promotion. Another big film last year was Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them, which also worked with Google to create an interactive experience. Tech Crunch detailed how Goggle Street View was used to create a street level view of 1920’s New York that fans could view on their smartphones. VR was also employed with Google’s Daydream View VR headset that allowed fans to walk around the main characters’ magical suitcase. It is not just new digital technology that film companies are using to provide fan interaction they are also turning to other entertainment mediums. For example, Marvel franchised off the rights to their characters to online gaming platform Betfair. By utilizing the star power of collectives such as The Avengers, the brand has reached the digital market giving fans a different means of playing games featuring their favorites superheroes. This also shows how companies such as Marvel are trying to find every angle a fan could want to experience their universe. And it makes it obvious that when the tech can provide it, we will be able to play those characters in VR and not just sit passively and watch.