New media attract studio marketing

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For the remake of "The Longest Yard," a seminal 1970s comedy, marketing executives at Viacom's Paramount Pictures looked beyond traditional media to snag the elusive young male target demographic, choosing a hand-held gaming gadget that's in the hands of a measly three million people worldwide.

Users downloaded free trailers and exclusive bits of video from a Web site onto the 43/4-inch screen of their Sony PlayStation Portable. Paramount reported brisk business, despite the lack of a marketing campaign around it. The movie, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, pulled in $60 million its opening weekend in May, finishing a respectable third against the box-office juggernaut "Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith" and the family flick "Madagascar."

Statistics show Hollywood's studios still rely heavily on TV: A new release in 2004 costs an average $30.6 million in advertising, with network and spot TV accounting for 36.2% of that total, down from 38.9% in 2003, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. But faced with a shrinking TV audience and the proliferation of ad-skipping devices, studio marketers are focusing on ways to reach consumers in unexpected places with messages that fit the medium.

While there are no figures on which media nudged moviegoers to "The Longest Yard," Paramount plans to repeat advertising on PSP with upcoming features. "The penetration and user base are still pretty small," says Amy Powell, the studio's VP-interactive marketing, "but we feel confident we're getting in front of taste-makers and influencers."

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Paramount also is eyeing cell phones and other wireless devices as marketing platforms for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival hit, "Hustle & Flow." Time Warner's Warner Bros. got "House of Wax" co-star Paris Hilton to podcast details of her life for a week prior to the movie's release. Apple iPods and other wireless devices are proliferating, especially among avid movie-goers.

It's getting more difficult to break new ground on the Internet. "You need to look for something novel," says Don Buckley, senior VP-interactive marketing at Warner Bros., noting the Time Warner movie distributor will podcast directly from the set of "Superman Returns" before its release next summer.

Studios are increasingly making deals with high-traffic Web portals that respond with innovation. Yahoo, for example, creates movie-theme greeting cards and instant-message environments to be passed around. Yahoo also tracks Web users' behavior-those who download movie trailers to those opting in to movie information-which helps launch the DVD version of a movie.

Studios' spending on the Internet is gone from afterthought to planned buy. In 2004, the Internet claimed 2.4% of that average $30.6 million per film ad cost, up from 1.3%. Internet marketing is making TV more innovative, too. For "Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe," Walt Disney Co. last month used a massive "roadblock," airing the trailer across broadcast, cable, online and other media simultaneously. Anchored by the TV spots, the campaign reached across AOL Web sites and Verizon Wireless's V Cast service, spanning 32 countries in 13 languages.

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