"The Game" is also noteworthy because it's the first movie to be released by the new division of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, created to issue high-profile event pictures.
OUTDOOR BOARD INTRO
PolyGram began hyping "The Game"-which opens Sept. 12 and is about a mysterious birthday gift that turns the life of the character played by Mr. Douglas into a prolonged "Twilight Zone" episode-earlier this month with outdoor boards that featured one of two lines: "Players wanted" or "What do you get the man who has everything?"
The teaser ads featured a Web site address (the-game.com), with a jigsaw-puzzle-piece portion of the black background cut out. Prior to Aug. 17, the ads and the site made no direct reference to the film.
"Since intrigue is such a big element of the film, we wanted to make it a major aspect of the marketing," said Peter Graves, president of marketing for PolyGram Films, which handles its advertising in-house.
The Web site, created by Avalanche, New York, and launched July 25, was promoted via Web Promote and on videogame bulletin boards.
6 GAME OPTIONS
Initially, visitors seeking to play a game at the site were asked several questions before being told they wouldn't be allowed to play-and then suddenly taken randomly to one of six curious, menacing but rudimentary Shockwave games. In one game, players have to try to withdraw keys from a toy clown's mouth-the setup and the games are all linked to events in the film.
More often than not, players were told they lost, even if it had appeared they won. But over the next five days, players were e-mailed the remaining five games. Players were promised a customized seventh game, which turns out to be a screensaver.
These games are still being offered, but on Aug. 17 the site took on the more traditional elements of a movie promotion site, following PolyGram's 90-second ad roadblock across all broadcast networks, some local stations and several cable networks.
The roadblock marked the beginning of PolyGram's regular TV push for the film.
"Usually, you begin TV two weeks prior to the launch, but we wanted to pop out of the clutter of the summer and start building awareness for the film," said Teri Korban Seide, senior VP-media and research for PolyGram.
ADVANTAGE OF :90
Mr. Graves said the 90-second clip provides more time to spell out the movie's curious premise and mood.
"It will offer a reference point for the :30s and :15s to follow," said Mr. Graves, who didn't disclose spending.
PolyGram will buy another roadblock for a 30-second spot-across all broadcast networks but fewer local stations and cable networks-Sept. 7 in prime time.
It will also send e-mail to all those who played the Internet version of "The Game" two days before the movie's release. In the past week, the site has been getting 750,000 to 850,000 hits each day.
PolyGram has also lined up some promotional partners for the film. Mark Cross, Philips Electronics, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and E! Entertainment Television are partnering on a national sweepstakes promotion that kicked off last week.
An in-bar national promotion sponsored by Labatt USA's Tecate beer is also on