Dead rats anyone? Hollywood gets creative to promote movies

Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:26pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Want to create buzz for a space movie? Take journalists to a real NASA lab. Promoting a horror film? Order up taxidermied rats and have zombies deliver them.

Hollywood studios are going to ever more creative lengths to attract attention in a jam-packed entertainment market where social media plays a key role in promoting content.

For Matt Damon's October film "The Martian," in which an astronaut is stranded on Mars, 20th Century Fox Studios hosted a media day last week at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California just to promote a trailer.

Journalists got a sneak peek at the first 50 minutes of the film, toured the lab and interviewed Damon at its Mission Control which is usually reserved for scientists working on operations such as landing the Curiosity rover on Mars in 2012.

"We're in a world with a very crowded marketplace," said "The Martian" producer Aditya Sood. "We want to make sure that people get the message that the movie's coming out."

After the media day, "The Martian" trailer became one of the top entertainment news stories, garnering 4.8 million views on Facebook and 3.3 million views on YouTube in just 48 hours.

"It makes sense for studios to spend money to get journalists to tweet and use social media because they believe it somehow will turn into box office dollars," said Entertainment Weekly film reporter Nicole Sperling.

Trailers are becoming the fast, bite-size way to attract an audience at a time when five or more movies a week are released in the United States.   Continued...

Actor Matt Damon (C) who stars as NASA Astronaut Mark Watney in the film "The Martian," smiles after having made his hand prints in cement at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Mars Yard, while Mars Science Lab Project Manager Jim Erickson (L), and NASA Astronaut Drew Feustel look on in Pasadena, California in this August 18, 2015 handout photo. REUTERS/Bill Ingalls/NASA/Handout