Writer/director/producer J.J. Abrams is, of course, the guy behind mysterious and spooky sci-fi faves such as Lost and Cloverfield. And you’ve probably heard that he’s got a new flick called Super 8 coming out June 10. But you may not have heard about the film’s viral marketing that’s swirling around in the digital wind and drawing sci-fi geeks and Internet trollers like professional gluttons to an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord.
So let Uncle Bob fill you in.
Many of the details about Abrams’ new movie are still shrouded in secrecy, but it appears to combine elements of both of the above-mentioned projects. The movie’s trailers focus on a group of kids making a homemade movie with a Super 8 camera who happen to record a devastating train wreck that subsequently releases … something.
That sounds like pretty typical old school sci-fi fare. But conundrum-master Abrams is drawing people’s attention with something less typical. One of the first things that showed up were mysterious packages, sent to news and reviewing organizations, that contained an old Kodachrome 40 Super 8 box with a snippet of film inside. Each piece was different and obviously part of a bigger Super 8 puzzle. The news orgs could then go online to something called the Super 8 Editing Room and add their snippet. If you go there and check it out yourself you’ll see how much of the scratchy Dharma Initiative-style film has currently been stitched together.
But that’s not all of the intrigue on hand. When the movie’s trailers began appearing, some observant folks noticed the sentence “Scariest Thing I Ever Saw” scrawled across the screen. And, sure enough, when they went online they found www.scariestthingieversaw.com, featuring something that looks like an old computer monitor that you can interact with and dig out secrets about some kind of countdown and … Area 51?
Of course, Abrams wasn’t going to leave out the videogaming crowd. So when the new game Portal 2 hit the street it held a hidden little game-like clip that places players inside the train from Super 8 just moments before it crashes and its mysterious cargo escapes. Then there’s the new Super 8 iPhone app. Not only does it let you create your own Super 8-like movies, but if you point it at something related to the movie (such as a Super 8 movie poster) the app automatically reveals little trailer-like clips for your viewing pleasure.
Who knows what else may be out there? It’s just a very imaginative way of rounding up some of our latest technologies, combining them with some retro-feeling coolness and creating a new way to, not only advertise something, but make that product feel incredibly special and intriguing before we even know what that product is.
And, if Abrams’ creativity pays off, this could be the beginning of a whole new approach to marketing. I suppose that will bring a new slew of problems, too, but I already like it better than Internet pop-ups.