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Paranormal Activity: Movie’s Success Depends on the Marketing Ploy

2009 - October 17, Saturday

A month ago I was watching “American Greed” – a series exposing the world of scams, cons and schemes – on CNBC. In one of the commercials during the commerical breaks, I first watched the preview of “Paranormal Activity”. I saw more scenes of reactions of people who were watching the movie and saw snippets of flattering reviews from various newspapers and megazines. At the end of the preview, the preview had the question “NOT PLAYING IN YOUR AREA?” soliciting viewers to “demand it!”.

At some time on the day after, I searched for showings in the Seattle area on my iPhone using the “Now Playing” app. I found one in which there was one showing everyday at 12AM, which is a very weird time to watch any movie, especially, in an area not as dense as the core downtown areas in cities such as New York, Seoul, and Tokyo, for example.

Only one theatre out of so many threaters playing the movie in the Seattle area made me think the movie was something of a bootleg that may be pleasing to those with unusual or unpopular tastes. I immediately built an interest in myself just because the movie showings were so rare. So what did I do? I started telling my friends and co-workers, eventually, to get them to vote for more available movie showings in the Seattle area.

Finally, after a random plan on Saturday night looking in Bellvue Toy’s R Us for PS3 games to take advantage of the “buy 2 and get the 3rd one free” deal,  I and a couple of friends living in near my place randomly decided to watch a movie. My friends had nothing in mind; I suggested the “Paranormal Activities” and described the entire movie as much as I know of the story. It was decided: We’re going to watch the movie. Everybody is always up for a scary movie although some may have to endure shallow sleep over night. I looked at the iPhone app once again to get the address of the theatre that played the movie. At my surprise, the movie was playing in all the theatres that I usually go to. We decided to go to the Regal theatre near Northgate Mall just to drop by the Toy’s R US store near the mall. Our efforts to go into the store was in vain: We arrived 5 minutes late to the store closing time.

After watching the movie, I saw the same trailer but at the end it said “YOU DEMANDED IT! NOW PLAYING”. I can look at this in two ways.
1)      The release to all movie theaters was plannned from the beginning
2)      The demand really existed – which was proven by the online votes – such that movie theaters,  which are owned by very few companies, decided to show the movie all across their theaters.

I tend to think the former. When we went to watch the movie, the theater was not even half full. Regardless of what marketing ploy the publishing company have taken, Paranormal Activity is one scary movie that disturbs you during the night when the lights are off.

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