Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Men in Black 3" and Weekly World News: Best Movie Promotion Ever?

In all the excitement about the much anticipated recent opening of "The Avengers" I almost forgot about another sure-fire summer 2012 blockbuster that's going to hit the screens soon.  "Men in Black 3" looks like it will be pretty good from what I've seen so far.  I remember really enjoying the first "Men in Black" (1997) when it came out.  That was during Will Smith's reign as Summer Box Office King.  Five years later "Men in Black II" (MIIB) (2002) came out.  It was pretty good, but seemed to suffer from a case of sequel-itis.  It's now been ten years since "MIIB".  This one will hopefully be worth the wait.

I was reminded about "MIB3" when I went to see a late-night screening of "The Three Stooges" on May 3rd--the night before "The Avengers" was released.  I forgot that there would be midnight screenings of it on the third though.  When I got out of the practically empty theater after watching the new Stooges around 11:45 I was surprised to see hundreds of folks milling about the lobby waiting for "The Avengers".  This was obviously the height of Avengers-Mania, but it was also the night that I was reminded that "Men in Black 3" would be coming out soon too.  It wasn't because I saw a trailer for the movie before "The Three Stooges" (I didn't).  Considering that "MIB3" will be out in just over a week I'm kind of surprised at how relatively low-key the promotion for it has been lately.  In this case it was a little bit of physical promotional material (as opposed to film-, TV- or web-based) that reminded me about the movie as I left that night.

It's not unusual to find various mini movie posters for upcoming releases out on the lobby counter that you can take on your way out of the movies.  I'll always grab one if it's for a film I'm interested in.  The "Men in Black 3" promo wasn't a poster though.  It was a copy of the tabloid magazine Weekly World News that featured articles and ads that are related to the movie.  I was surprised to discover that it was more than a promotional cover containing a page or two with info about the film.  Instead it is actually 32 (THIRTY-TWO) pages long!  There's a black and white poster for the movie on the back cover, but that's really the only thing that is an obvious direct ad for the film.

Front cover

Back cover--with MIB3 ad

The inside of the publication is filled with a number of stories that probably relate to the movie in one way or another.  There are also some ads sprinkled throughout for fictional products and companies--as well as some for Weekly World News products available online.  One of the few "real" ads is actually a clever full-page "article" about "Spikey Bulba" being found at a Dunkin' Donuts.  It's a pretty cool way to advertise without having to put a "real" ad in the fake magazine.  I've got a feeling that reading these "articles" will actually add to the enjoyment of watching "Men in Black 3" when I recognize references to some of them in the movie.

Here's a look at some of the magazine's contents:

An actual ad for some WWN stuff

Another Weekly World News ad

Here's the Dunkin' Donuts "story" mentioned above

Here's an "Undercover Black Cocoa Creme Donut"
...What can I say?  Advertising works.  Yum!

I LOVE the fact that this ad includes a phone number
but NO website--just like what would have been seen
in the WWN back in the 80s!
It's obvious that a lot of time and effort (as well as a few bucks I'm sure) went into making this movie promotional material.  It would have been a lot easier to simply hand out scaled down mini versions of the official movie poster.  But beyond the "thinking outside of the box" aspect of this piece, it might not seem all that great.  So why do I suggest in the title that it just might be the "Best Movie Promotion Ever"?  Well, you might need to be a person of a "certain age" to understand.  First off, I should mention that there used to be an actual Weekly World News publication that shared magazine rack space with such tabloid titles as the National Enquirer, Star and The Globe.  They were all similar in some ways, but the others focused much more on celebrity gossip while the Weekly World News was all about fantastic stories in the "real" world.  The magazine still has an online presence, but stopped publishing a paper edition in 2007.

Here are a few of my old issues of WWN from 1987-1989 still in my possession

According to Wikipedia, the Weekly World News started printing in 1979.  I would have been nine or ten at the time.  Back then there were precious few outlets for information about things strange phenomenon and unsolved mysteries.  This was a time long before The Internet.  The Weekly World News wasn't exactly a reputable news source, but it did feature stories on subjects like Bigfoot, UFOs, The Loch Ness Monster, Ghosts and anything else a Monster Kid might be interested in.  It was a great way for me to keep informed on the latest "news" about these subjects.  Because of this I had a strong affinity for it in spite of it's tabloid nature.  It was my best source for offbeat "news".  To see the magazine revived in such a complete way just to be used as promotional material for "Men in Black 3" was simply awesome to see for an old geek like me!  And it's a perfect match to pair the two together.

Here's a comparison of the new MIB issue and an old issue from the 1980s


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