Finding An Audience: Distribution Notes for 6/18/08

Disney is planning for new interactive bonus features on their Blu-ray Disc releases. That would include things like more ties between the discs and the web, ranging from live web chats that allow viewers to connect to each other to video messaging. Some of those features will debut on the Blu-ray version of Sleeping Beauty. Disney is obviously trying to hasten the adoption of Blu-ray and so is trying to entice the audience with these features. It’s also including a standard DVD with the Blu-ray version so as not to completely confuse people.

The MPAA, on the other hand, is making sure it does whatever it can do to kill the burgeoning day-and-date home video release trend. It wants the FCC to change the rules governing broadcast of movies in such a way that viewers would be unable to record current movies with their DVRs or even watch them on high-def TVs. The MPAA says changing the standing release window schedule for DVD, VOD and PPV increases the risk of piracy and wants the FCC to drop its ban on technology that would allow it to limit access to new releases. As Marguerite at CNET says, while the request is carefully worded to just impact newer films, this could be the foot in the door by the MPAA to broader changes that would begin to really clamp down on any viewing or recording they feel encourages piracy, which roughly includes any time you’re not watching a legal DVD all by yourself and destroying it afterwards so you have to buy a new one.

Going back to what people are doing right, AdWeek has a good round-up sort of story on how studios are running promotions or distributing films/film clips in virtual worlds like Gaia Online, There.com and elsewhere.

Hollywood is not backing off of its love affair with easy-to-market franchises and existing properties. Their reliance on turning known characters into big-screen hits has been increased by a choosier than ever audience base (largely the result of ever-increasing media choices) and the fact that the audiences that are coming to movies are often picking these films. Plus there’s the fact that franchises, adaptations and sequels are easier to sell as ideas to promotional partners and don’t have to be accompanied by such an insane advertising blitz.

That goes hand-in-hand with this story about how superheroes are pushing big-name stars out of the multiplex, leading studios to cut back on the front-end deals it makes with actors.

The LAT gets around to talking about the fact that studios are mulling their options when it comes to day-and-date releasing of movies online and and on video-on-demand at the same time they hit DVD, something that would have been ridiculous to even consider just a few short years ago.

The Marcus Theatres chain is installing 3-D projectors in 12 of its locations in preparation for for the release of Journey to the Center of the Earth. While the upgrade is specifically for this movie it has the added benefit of putting Marcus screens in a good position for the wave of 3-D movies that is currently hitting, a wave that’s only going to increase in intensity in the coming years.

Meanwhile, 3-D pioneer Imax is looking to get into the home video market, putting its feature titles on a variety of smaller screens. The company has rejected such plans before out of fear it would dilute its brand equity but has seen the value at this time.

Picking up the Spare: Hulk, Speed Racer and a bunch of award winners

The Incredible Hulk

The Thursday before the movie’s opening Marvel’s Joe Quesada and other execs from the company rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, with everyone appearing on the platform wearing Hulk Smash Hands just to complete the effect.

Anne Thompson has a great round-up of the story behind the clashes (both real and otherwise) between Marvel/Universal and Hulk star Edward Norton. When it comes to the marketing of the pic she says the two parties agreed it would be best to keep Norton off the publicity circuit so as not to put the attention on him and keep it focused on the movie itself.

Speed Racer

Anne also has a good post-mortem on Speed Racer, identifying problems that plagued Warner Bros. in marketing the movie. There’s a hefty list of reasons, ranging from not deciding to embrace the 14 year olds the movie was clearly made for to the fact that those 14 year olds had no idea what Speed Racer was, all of that with a movie that was obviously aimed at younger kids.

The Simpsons Movie

7-Eleven and its agency partner FreshWorks received a Gold award at the Cannes advertising awards for the retailer’s transformation of a number of their stores into Kwik-E-Marts, something we all really should have seen coming.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Director Judd Apatow was honored as a “Visionary” at The Hollywood Reporter’s Key Art Awards. You can read an interview with Apatow that includes his thoughts on “viral” marketing, a story I was intially to be featured in until the powerful Apatow pushed me out, here. You can also watch footage of FSM star Jason Segel opining on his exclusion from the movie’s campaign here.

No Country for Old Men

The campaign – including the site designed by Kirk Skodis and the Real Pie Media crew – for No Country for Old Men won for overall Best Campaign at the Key Art Awards. You can read the entire list of winners, including many movies I’ve featured here on MMM, at THR.