The Internet has really upped the ante for filmmakers and major movie studios to get their projects noticed in a time where tweets are forgotten after three minutes and no one has the attention span to sit through a 90 minute film. In order to rectify this, studios have taken to drastic measures to get people into theaters. Most recently, conspiracy theorists believed that the Sony hack was actually an elaborate PR stunt in order to get people interested in seeing The Interview. Even though the idea of a billion dollar company leaking social security numbers and racist emails is completely insane, here is our list of actual PR stunts for films that are ridiculously ballsy and actually happened:
This 2005 remake of the Vincent Price classic House of Wax starred Paris Hilton and is the sole reason why I'm terrified to this day of someone coming near my achilles tendon. Although the film had a fair amount of skepticism before its release, the PR marketing campaign was killer. They promoted the release of the film through the public's hatred of Paris Hilton by giving people shirts that said "See Paris Die," with the release date underneath. I'm sure Paris didn't mind the PR team feeding off the public's vehement distaste for her when she was counting all the money the film grossed ($68 million!).
Although he never publicly attempted to fake his death, the premise around this directorial "mockumentary" was that the former Encino Man star had died. The film drummed up some controversy due to Pauly Shore being both the writer and director of a film who's entire shtick was that he was dead...but Pauly Shore was so irrelevant at the time no one really took notice anyway.
Casey Affleck directed this comedy about dramatic actor Joaquin Pheonix attempting to break into the world of hip-hop. Although the film was barely noticed, Phoenix's truly insane interview on Letterman is still one of the first things to appear when you google his name. When the interview first came out people thought Pheonix had finally cracked, but then he came forward and was like "LOL JK guys I'm a comedian now, see!" You're still here, Joaquin Pheonix, but after that stunt we wish you weren't.
If there were two words to describe Eminem, they would probably be (for me, at least): homophobic and pissy. During the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, Sasha Baron-Cohen dropped from the ceiling and landed ass-to-face with Eminem. The stunt further pissed off the already always-livid rapper, and it sure did stir up buzz for an otherwise forgettable film.
Remember Josh from Drake and Josh? Well in 2008, Josh Peck decided to become hot and edgy and star in this indie flick about a misguided drug-dealing misanthrope who trades bud for therapy sessions. Oh, yeah, there was an Olsen twin in it, obviously. The producers of the film promised that 1,000 consumers of the DVD would win a free trip to Amsterdam and a free bag of weed upon arrival. Although the stunt angered some, the PR team stood by their campaign stating, "'The Wackness' is all about people coming together through a love of weed, and we're just celebrating that fact." I wonder how many stoners bought this movie for the potential free weed and all they got was a crappy indie film.
7. Independence Day (probably inspired by Orson Welles)
You know what's really messed up? Making American think a news broadcast is interrupted by aliens destroying the planet. That is exactly what the marketing team of the 1996 Will Smith film decided to do when they staged a fake news broadcast that featured the White House being blown up. Although the footage literally looks like it could've been filmed on my iPhone in a parking lot, people were so frightened that there was a major influx of 911 calls after its broadcast. Perhaps the production company was inspired by Orson Welles' similar prank in 1938.
8. The Blair Witch Project Scares the S#!& Out Of People
This gem is responsible for all those crappy Paranormal Activity sequels that have come rolling through our theaters every Halloween. However played-out the "found footage" genre has become, this film was the grand-daddy of them all. The filmmakers claimed that the film was 100% real, even never allowing the three main actors to make public appearances. The stunt was an incredible success, though. People really loved seeing people they thought had actually died on screen, helping the movie gross $250 million on its $22,000 budget. I'm not sure what is creepier, the fact that the PR team posted missing posters of the actors around Sundance to generate buzz, or the fact that people seemed totally okay watching presumed dead people on screen.