On January 23, 2017, Paramount Pictures pulled a successful marketing stunt for their film Rings when the frightening character from the story (Samara) popped out of a TV screen in-person to scare unsuspecting customers at an appliance store. In a 24-hour period, the video was viewed more than 200 million times on the film’s official Facebook page. It also notched more than one-million views on YouTube, making it the top-trending video on the platform in that period of time.
Despite the film’s less-than-enthusiastic reception from horror fans, it brought home more than $83-million at the worldwide box office. It’s safe to call the promotional stunt featuring a real-life Samara successful, right?
Fast forward six months to July 28, 2017, and the top trending YouTube video in that 24-hour period was the official trailer for the New Line Cinema (Warner Brothers) release, IT.
Gaining more than 13 million views on Facebook and just south of five million YouTube hits in less than 24 hours, the IT trailer received a massive amount of the internet’s video-viewing attention in a very short period of time. The view count will continue to grow by the millions over the coming weeks.
While Rings employed the viral marketing method, IT makes great use of slow-burning suspense.
The tactics used in marketing IT have been much more subtle. Unless, of course, you count the 2016 nationwide clown scare taking place in different states across the country. These events were not planned or endorsed by Warner Brothers. The clown scare merely gave the team in marketing and public relations for the film a gift. These real-life clown incidents were happening as Entertainment Weekly was exclusively releasing pictures showing the final makeup and costume of Pennywise the Clown, played by Bill Skarsgård.
Because of the film’s demand, media coverage was easy to come by. It wasn’t until March 28, 2017 that the social media accounts promoting the forthcoming teaser trailer went live. Through the teaser, fans were finally given the release date: September 8, 2017.
The teaser trailer, released March 29, 2017, received an overwhelmingly positive response. At the time of this writing, it’s notched more than 133 million views on Facebook, with more than 30 million views on YouTube.
Since then, stills from the teaser have been used to promote the film directly from its social media channels. GIFS have been created, liked, tweeted and shared; both by the film studio, and the fans. There was even an IT Fan Art contest throughout the month of June. The winner received a trip to the premiere.
From pictures and articles released by Entertainment Weekly last year, to the teaser trailer, to the first official trailer… The suspense is killing the horror community, which is exciting for the people in the finance department at Warner Brothers.
Being six weeks out from IT’s domestic theatrical release, there is no stopping The Losers Club and Pennywise. Warner Brothers has been releasing the smallest bits of information daily, which has created a large audience waiting to fill theater seats on opening night.