Hipster factor poses challenges for movie marketers

Thu Jul 2, 2009 1:48am EDT
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By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Batten down the hatches -- the hipsters are coming.

Even as Hollywood studios increasingly aim at the broadest possible audience, a few companies are experimenting with the opposite approach in these summer months and beyond: They're making smart, quirky movies for a sophisticated young audience.

The pics are trying to be the next "Garden State," a 2004 film that, like other hipster pics, can be generally defined as trafficking in moody music, casual style and characters who are disaffected.

But to succeed, these films will need to compete in a more difficult market than "Garden State" did only five years ago -- and do even bigger business than that picture's $27 million.

Perhaps the most prominent example of the form is Fox Searchlight's upcoming breakup comedy-drama "(500) Days of Summer," Marc Webb's subtle, funny and uncharacteristically guy-centric view of modern romance. The films opens July 17 in limited release.

Starring Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as a reflective architect and Zooey Deschanel as his ethereal, sometimes unattainable love interest, the movie was one of the breakout hits at Sundance this year. It has all the makings of a summer counterprogramming hit, along the lines of "Little Miss Sunshine" three years ago.

But even by the standards of Searchlight -- which with films like "Garden State" and "Juno" has elevated hipster marketing to an art form -- "Summer" is a tricky enterprise.

30-SECOND CHALLENGE   Continued...

<p>Zach Braff, the director and writer of the film "Garden State" poses as he arrives for the opening night of the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival featuring a screening of the his film in Hollywood, June 17, 2004. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>