Mr. Pula is president-theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema Corp., responsible for two of last year's biggest movies, "The Mask" and "Dumb and Dumber." Mr. Pula's creative and witty marketing strategies helped to open the blockbuster films that turned Jim Carrey into the megastar that he wasn't 11/2 years ago.
New Line spent about $7 million to market each film, about half the Hollywood average. But New Line is smaller than most Hollywood studios, so Mr. Pula has to be smarter and more strategic with fewer marketing dollars.
But when it works it pays off big: "The Mask" grossed $122 million in the U.S. But the bigger hit for Mr. Pula, 40, was "Dumb and Dumber," which pulled in $125 million.
"It shouldn't have done better than $40 million, but it did," says Mr. Pula. "We made that movie hipper than it already was. We made it hip to be stupid."
Mr. Pula created the movie's wacky advertising, including its infamous "Forrest Gump" parody ("Dumb Happens") and newspaper ads that included dumb reviews from "dumb" critics.
To get a buzz going for both films, Mr. Pula sent reviewers and radio disc jockeys videotapes and slicks of each movie's ads months in advance of their releases.
Also contrary to Movie Marketing 101, which counsels to release trailers six to eight weeks in advance of an opening, Mr. Pula arranged for trailers into theaters six months before each movie opened.
"If casual moviegoers see only six to eight movies a year, [and] if movie fans only see 10 to 12 movies a year, as studies show, then we have to get our message out early," says Mr. Pula.
Mr. Pula also is a believer in cramming ads with as much of the movie's good stuff as the producers will allow. That's why trailers for "Mask" were filled with the movie's special effects and spots for "Dumb" were packed with some of film's best jokes.
"I walk that line between showing too much and showing not enough," he says.