Movie Marketers Perplexed As to How to Solve ‘The Williamsburg Conundrum’

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Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

When the trailers for 500 Days of Summer and Where the Wild Things Are hit the Internet earlier this year, hipsters everywhere experienced a collective indiegasm of Peter Northian proportions. This reaction was not altogether unexpected, as the former featured Boner Party muse Zooey Deschanel crooning along to the achy emo anthem "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out," and the latter was triumphantly scored with Arcade Fire's "Wake Up." However, as marketers at Fox Searchlight and Warner Bros. are figuring out, it's much easier to get disaffected hipsters to blog about their trailers than it is to get them to spend $11 to purchase a movie ticket. Call it the Williamsburg Conundrum.

The evolution of this new genre of films can be traced back — some say blamed — on Zach Braff, whose 2004 hit Garden State raked in some $27 million at the box office and turned the Shins into one of the most zeitgeist-y bands of that era. However, the challenge for the studios that produce these sorts of movies is best summed up by Fox Searchlight president Nancy Utley, who states that "We need to take the vague buzz and turn it into a specific buzz." We're not entirely sure what that means, but in the case of 500 Days Of Summer, it means working the traditional PR circuit (late-night TV shows, TV advertising) with less traditional marketing approaches (blog outreach, extensive pre-release screenings at festivals and college campuses). But along the way, studios are ever conscious of oversaturating their marketing messages to a group of consumers who pride themselves on their resistance to advertising.

What say you, VultureWatchers?

Hipster factor poses challenges for movie marketers [Reuters]