It's true that a lot in movie marketing rides on whether the movie is any good or not, but a larger role is being taken on by social media, where fans are either hearing about your new release or someone else's, and where connections can last well beyond a 30-second spot -- all the way to a sequel.
So it's a good thing Warner Bros. has Sue Kroll, the innovative exec who's helped steer the studio to a box-office lead every year since she became marketing chief in 2008, partly by finding fresh ways to pull consumers toward each big release.
"While trailers and TV commercials and publicity are hugely important, social media provides an increasingly important forum for movie fans to share information and for us to target our efforts," Ms. Kroll said.
"I'm never satisfied in doing the same kind of work and executions repeatedly and have always believed that creative process is only restricted by one's imagination. And I'm fairly relentless about it."
To amplify talk about the original "Hangover," for example, Ms. Kroll's team created a Facebook app that allowed fans to upload photos that put themselves in the movie. One month after the opening, the page had 1.8 million fans. It paid bigger dividends once it was time to seed demand for the sequel.
"By the time we began to market "Hangover 2,' it had over 12 million fans and became a cornerstone of our online campaign," Ms. Kroll said. "We debuted materials there and posted an amazing, age-gated "Fighting Chow' game to the page. When the movie opened, the page had 13.3 million fans, and it now has 16.7 million fans."
Ms. Kroll's team went into the campaign for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" with a little over 1 million Facebook fans for the movies. They drove that number to 9 million on opening weekend by posting content and giving away tickets to the premiere.
Going into "Part 2," it had more than 22 million fans. Once Ms. Kroll and her team were done with a new round of features, that figure had crested to 35 million.