Paramount’s Paranormal Activity would probably win the Oscar for Best Marketing if such a statue existed. One of the biggest aspects of the marketing was the ‘Demand It’ aspect; Paramount played the film at midnight screenings in select market and then said that if they got a million demands on the website Eventful they would bring the movie to more cities in a real release. Of course they got their million – was Paramount going to do a press release saying that Paranormal Activity was a movie America didn’t demand to see? – and most of the major media covered this ‘Demand It’ campaign as if it was a real grassroots surge.

I’ve already said that this campaign was going to become a blueprint for other studios, but I had no idea it would happen this fast.Buried in a Variety article about Footloose is this sentence:

Columbia Pictures has said the picture will have only a two-week run
around the world, but insiders suggest “This Is It” will likely be
expanded “by popular demand” if it becomes the expected blockbuster.

This Is It, which is a documentary about the rehearsals for the tour that Michael Jackson became too dead to mount, opens on Friday and is expected to make approximately a zillion dollars. There was an insane bit of buzz saying the film could make 200 million this weekend, but I suspect that just isn’t mathematically possible.

Columbia probably won’t use the same ‘Demand It’ campaign exactly – you can’t expect Michael Jackson’s core base to have computer access – but they’ll use the same concept: ‘The public has spoken!’ And who knows, maybe Columbia will start online petitions and the like, anything they can game to create the illusion of regular joes rising up.

What will be the next film that takes a page from the Paranormal Activity playbook? It’s going to be interesting to see who else goes that route. And how long it takes the media to pick up on it the delightful phoniness of it all.