A little over a year ago, I posted my first blog entry here—about an atypical comic book hero named Scott Pilgrim who was in the process of getting a movie. Now, today, that movie hits theaters. I feel like this is all coming full circle.
During my annual pilgrimage to the West Coast, I was fortunate (let’s not kid ourselves—I was beside-myself-excited) to see a special advance screening of the movie. San Diego’s Balboa Theater was packed, every level, every seat filled with someone who was already invested in this movie, one way or another. Seeing a movie you’ve been excited about for over a year, with a theater-full of other people who have also been that excited for the same movie? It’s unlike any other movie-going experience I’ve ever had. Especially when the director and cast are on hand to introduce and close out the experience. A surprise performance from Metric doesn’t hurt either.
Anyway, this is an advertising blog, right? I’ll bring this around, trust me. If there’s a marketing textbook out there looking for examples of fun, non-traditional approaches to marketing a movie—please pay attention to the following…
Scott Pilgrim dominated Comic Con. Dominated. I mean look at it… Scott is literally towering over the convention center.
The Scott Pilgrim panel closed out the first full day of Comic Con, with the infamous Hall H filling with fans. Edgar Wright moderated his own panel, introducing his cast, fielding questions from the audience and showing new clips from the movie. Nearing the end of the panel, he asked the audience to look at the buttons they were handed at the start of the talk. If they had buttons with a 1UP on them—they were to follow him to the screening. And I mean it—follow him. Edgar jumped off the stage at that point and like the Pied Piper, led the lucky 1UP-ers 6 blocks up San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter to the Balboa. Those who couldn’t get into that first screening would be given two more chances over the following two days. I kid you not, as I passed the Balboa on my way to Day Two, there were already people in line at the theater. This was at 7:30 in the morning, the screening wouldn’t be until 6 that evening.
Across from the convention center, there was Pilgrim pandemonium in the courtyard of the Gaslamp Hilton where the Scott Pilgrim Experience was being staged.
This was your one-stop for all things SP. Like anything at Comic Con, there was a line to get in (for the Fire Marshal’s sake). The first stop in the Experience?
Custom Scott Pilgrim t-shirts. You pick your shirt size, color and the design you want screen printed on it while you wait. This was one of the coolest promotional ideas ever. And have I mentioned that everything in the experience was free? Yeah, all free.
After that, you could star in your own flipbook. Act out a little scene for a few seconds in front of a camera, the video was turned into pages and this awesome little machine printed and trimmed your own flipbook with a Scott Pilgrim cover.
There were faux-sets from the movie to pose in front of, a kiosk to send a greeting to your friends on Facebook, a wall to sign or doodle on, live music and places to try out the new Scott Pilgrim video game (which is a must-have for any old-school gamer. River City Ransom, anyone?).
And then there were the chances to meet the cast. Not only were there signings…
…but cast members were also out in the Experience mingling with fans, helping to make t-shirts or guest starring in filpbooks.
There was also a STUFF booth outside of the experience that gave away swag bags to passers by and was also the home-base for a special iPhone/Droid app promotion. For those who had downloaded and explored the recently released Scott Pilgrim Punch Out game for their mobile devices, they might have uncovered a special Comic Con section—instructing them to show a secret image to the folks at the STUFF booth for a special prize. Those who followed the instructions were rewarded with a full set of pins, featuring all the different characters in the story.
If there’s a better way of igniting excitement for a movie, I don’t want to know about it. Wait, maybe I do.
What about the folks not at Comic Con? Well, the SP crew has been on the road, hosting screenings in other cities, getting the word out via Twitter and Facebook. In Atlanta, stars Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman did the weather (note Cera’s SP Experience shirt)
And then there’s the interactive trailer. It’s like if a video game and VH1′s Pop Up Video had a baby made of pixels and awesome— a trailer with it’s own DVD features built into it. And the regular trailers are everywhere.
I want this movie to do well, I feel invested in it despite having nothing to do with it—which may be some side effect of all the stuff above this paragraph . It’s fast, fun, hilarious and above all, a love story. Like it has from the start, it pays tribute to all the things I love: music, video games and comic books. It breaks the comic book movie mold, from the story to the style in which it was shot. It’s a movie shot in Toronto where the city’s playing itself and not standing in for New York or some other metropolis (my music nerdiness went into overdrive seeing Clash at Demonhead play at Lee’s Palace). The soundtrack is killer with songs from Beck, Metric, Frank Black and Broken Social Scene to name a few. The creativity behind this movie, from the source material to the film is the only thing that dwarfs the innovative approach of the marketing that has gone out into the world to support it.
Go see Scott Pilgrim.
Other awesome Scott Pilgrim things in our universe not mentioned in this post (until now):