Horror Flick Scaring Up Audiences Through Facebook, Social Media

The new scare film “Paranormal Activity” is building audiences through social media sites like Facebook, relying on Web buzz to steadily increase the numbers of screens where the ultra-low budget movie is shown. The film is promoted as “the first ever major-film release demanded by you,” letting internet demand drive the markets where the movie was initially shown.

Distributor Paramount Pictures took an unorthodox approach to promoting and advertising the film, only releasing the movie to a few screens in mostly younger, college-town markets. Producers then bought limited TV spots for the trailers, which feature mostly audience reaction as opposed to clips from the film, as well as an appeal to fans to get online and demand the movie come to their town.

By catering to areas and demographics that are already heavily involved in social media, the promoters of “Paramormal Activity” were able to tap into those early viewers’ social networks and spread buzz about the film through Facebook and Twitter. The movie’s official Facebook page currently has almost 63,000 fans, and offers users the opportunity to demand the flick come to their town and upload their own video reaction to the movie. There’s even a printable flyer to help spread word about the film.

The movie was good enough to inspire those that did have the chance to see it during its initial limited release to take to the web and spread word through their news feeds and tweets. An announcement on the fan page touts more than 1 million people have demanded the film show at a local theater.

Of course, you have to have a strong product when using positive word of mouth to promote a movie, and by all accounts, “Paranormal Activity” delivers. And it’s not like Paramount had a lot to lose: the movie was made for practically nothing by Hollywood standards (reports vary between $11,000 and $15,000), and has already taken in more than $7.1 million at the box office. “Paranormal Activity” is now set for nationwide release this weekend.