Five years ago the Blair Witch Project
became a multi-million dollar box-office sensation thanks to a clever marketing scheme that pretended the Blair Witch was real (and offered a spooky companion website filled with pseudo historical background about her). Ever since then movie marketers have latched onto the concept of promoting movies via hoaxes. So much so, that I think we should just begin referring to the practice of promoting movies by hoaxing the public as 'Blairwitching
'. For instance, a sample sentence using this term might be: Failing to think of any original way to promote their movie, the marketing team simply decided to Blairwitch it
The latest movie to be Blairwitched is the Sci-Fi Channel's documentary about filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan (The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan
) that aired last night. The Sci-Fi Channel's marketing team promoted the movie by promising that it was going to reveal a secret buried in Shyamalan's past, a secret that had driven him towards his obsession with the supernatural. Supposedly Shyamalan didn't want this secret exposed, which caused him to stop cooperating with the documentary team. This conflict between Shyamalan and his biographers managed to garner a fair bit of press
. But then yesterday, when the documentary aired, the Sci-Fi Channel admitted that they simply invented Shymalan's buried secret
as well as Shyamalan's disagreement with them (the big secret was supposed to be that he once witnessed a drowning).
I like the line in this article
about the hoax campaign where NBC executives (NBC owns the Sci-Fi Channel) apologize, saying that "We would never intend to offend the public or the press and value our relationship with both."
Yeah, right. Meanwhile, they're happy to accept all the publicity that the hoax generated (including having people like me write about it on their weblogs). And oh yeah, the hoax itself and the documentary were ultimately all big advertisements for Shyamalan's upcoming movie The Village
, which actually looks kind of cool. (Thanks to Terry in the hoax forum
for giving a heads up about this)