One of the most common types of branded viral video is the movie trailer. After music videos, it may be one of the most-watched genres of online video. Not every trailer succeeds at going viral, but the ones that do are able to generate huge additional interest in the film just by uploading something that was already created.
Movie trailers are a fairly reliable form of marketing for Hollywood. After all, they've been making trailers for decades. In fact, in the early days of Hollywood, trailers actually played at the end of a film instead of the beginning... hence the name "trailers."
These days, trailers come in all shapes and sizes. They're on film prints in the theater, they're on television and Super Bowl commercials, they come on DVD and Blu-Ray discs, and... they're online.
YouTube and social media services mean that online video has the potential to help build buzz around a trailer that studios never had before the web came along. It's amazing what the power of the web can do... in the movie theaters, trailers are often viewed as a nuisance... something that gets between you and the film you came to see. Online, however, they become the destination.
I thought it might be fun to take a look at this week's biggest trailers in online video. Perhaps by looking at what Hollywood is doing we can all learn a little something ourselves about marketing through online video. Or maybe it's just an excuse to watch some trailers. I'm fine either way.
First up, we have Harry Potter... finally playing someone in a film who isn't named Harry Potter. It's Daniel Ratcliff's upcoming film, The Woman In Black, which appears to be a creepy thriller--a bit of a departure for the wizard actor:
No doubt this film's trailer is getting a bit of extra attention because of its famous star, and due to the fact that this is his first big film after the end of the Harry Potter series. It doesn't hurt that the trailer is legitimately creepy.
Another trailer with some viral traction this week is the third installment in the Harold & Kumar series, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas:
The trailer has a nice steady view count going, and has been embedded and talked about on some of the most popular news sites and blogs for the college demographic--the target audience for this film. A good trailer isn't always enough, particularly if you can't get it in front of the right audience.
Another movie that did an excellent job getting its trailer in front of the right audience was Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence. Comic books and the Internet seem to go together very well, and the trailer was posted on Collider.com, a home for fans of movies, comics, books, gadgets, and more. It's already grabbed over a million views in just three days:
At least one trailer is taking full advantage of its film's more salacious topic. That film is Hysteria, which is described as "a romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator." Yikes. (The trailer is completely safe for work, though the subject material is decidedly adult):
Finally, let's end things on an uplifting note, with a brand new trailer from Relativity Media for a film called Machine Gun Preacher. It's based on a true story of a man who puts his life on the line for the people of Sudan: