Magazine article Insight on the News

Hype.Com

Magazine article Insight on the News

Hype.Com

Article excerpt

Websites play leading roles in Hollywood promos, but the Net isn't yet ready for prime time.

This year's Oscars saw a new type of Hollywood pitch during an acceptance speech. And it had nothing to do with politics. The winning visual-effects team from The Matrix closed the usual thanks and praise segment with a plug for the film's Website. Expect more of the same, as Hollywood embraces the Internet as both a promotional device and an artistic medium.

Most theatrical trailers and movie posters prominently feature the film's Website address. Internet movie information sources from Yahoo Movies to reviews in the American Spectator now have links to the films' Websites. For the first time this year, the Online Film Critics Society gave out awards for best official Website for a film (nominees were Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, The Matrix, Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace, and the winner, The Blair Witch Project.

It was The Blair Witch Project that transformed film's relationship with the Web, developing an extremely elaborate site that included details of the invented Blair Witch legend and biographies of the "missing" film makers. The film became an event among Web-savvy filmgoers.

By the time of its nationwide release in July, the little film that cost less than $35,000 to make had generated such enormous buzz that it eventually grossed more than $140 million in the United States and $250 million worldwide. In proportion to production costs, it is the most successful movie ever made.

Today, all big-budget movies now come with an elaborate Website featuring the sort of goodies long associated with special-edition tapes and discs: "behind the scenes" trivia, clips and even bloopers. Gladiator, the year's No. 2 box-office hit thus far, has 40 traditional ancient virtues such as courage and honor hidden on its Web-site each marked by an icon. …

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