Disney embraces Web, viral tactics

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Trying to appeal to hip, tech-savvy film fans, Walt Disney Co. is launching a raft of tactics outside its usual mass-media realm for the action flick "National Treasure" and thriller "The Village."

The Disney programs are part of a growing movement among Hollywood studios to craft marketing campaigns that reflect the entertainment content.

`secret' sites

Disney will head into nightclubs and coffee houses, create "secret" Web sites, do wild postings and other guerrilla marketing and launch a "smart trailer" on yahoomovies.com that gives Web surfers 11 minutes of insight into "National Treasure."

New Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, an early proponent of the trend, designed a number of promotions for the release of "The Day After Tomorrow" that mimicked the weather-gone-wild theme, with lightning and thunder special effects in sports arenas during NBA playoffs earlier this summer. Fox hired Brand Marketers, San Francisco, to dispatch models wearing high-tech T-shirts that played the trailer for the Will Smith movie, "I, Robot." For the fall release of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," Viacom's Paramount Pictures plans to disperse movie-themed costumed characters to serve cocktails at the video-game awards show "G-Phoria" on Comcast's G4techTV.

"Technology allows people to experience a movie in a very different way than they could have even a year ago," said Oren Aviv, president-marketing at Disney's Buena Vista Pictures. Helping the trend along, Mr. Aviv said, is a greater willingness from filmmakers to release extended samples of their movies before the launch date.

For M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village," opening July 30 under Disney's Touchstone Pictures, marketers will blanket bars, coffee shops and other young-adult gathering places with promotions. A Web site, rulesofthevillage.com, will be promoted to young clubbers and Web surfers. ABC will air "Unbreakable," hosted by Mr. Shyamalan, with footage from "The Village."

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