If you're trying to catch the attention of millennials, then you've got to get viral. Technology is where audiences go to find their updates on all things social, and Hollywood has taken heed of the trend. Recently, Paramount capitalized on today's increasingly clever viral campaigns to drop teaser trailers for their live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. And, now, the studio is explaining their decision to debut the controversial project that way.
Don't know about Ghost in the Shell? No worries - It won't take long to catch up. The film is based on a popular manga series by Masamune Shirow from the 1990s. The series is set in a dystopian future and follows a character named Motoko Kusanagi, a field commander and counter-cyberterrorist who works for the Public Security Section 9. The cyber-punk franchise follows the cyborg lead as she hunts down criminals and discovers her own augmentations make her a dangerous liability to skilled hackers interested in commandeering her hi-tech body.
Paramount Pictures recently debut a first-look at Ghost in the Shell footage during the Season 2 finale of Mr. Robot on USA. Divvied up into five clips, the short teasers glitched onto viewers' television screens without warning during commercial breaks. Many were left confused by the interruptions, leading fans to search 'Ghost in the Shell' during the finale's downtime.
And that is exactly what Paramount hoped would happen.
"The great thing about season premieres and season finales is that they're like live sporting events: People want to watch them in real time. Because of the social media explosion, there's a fear of missing out or having a plot detail spoiled. We knew with the Mr. Robot finale we'd get that extra boost of people who would be sharing on social." said Megan Colligan, Paramount's president of worldwide distribution and marketing.
As for why Paramount chose to premiere the footage with Mr. Robot, it comes down to the show's focus on technology and hacktivism. "It's a movie about glitches and technology, and that fits well thematically with Mr. Robot," the studio explained.
"Ghost in the Shell is so original in its own right that it had to have a special execution to kick it off. We needed a launch that was as unique and original as the property itself. You'll soon learn about the glitch, it's one of the most important parts of the film's storytelling. It was important to present the earliest advertising for this film as a glitch instead of something more traditional."
Of course, there was some backlash associated with the footage drop. Fans were left confused as to how the teasers fit together, so one entrepreneurial netizen connected the clips in a professional-level fan edit. The viral campaign also faced criticism from fans who are still unhappy about the film's casting. Ghost in the Shell received tons of flack earlier this year when news broke it had cast several white actors in lead roles, prompting fans to accuse Paramount of white-washing the film.
However, numbers don't like - and social media monitors have deemed Paramount's teasers as a certifiable success. The clips have earned more than 12 million views on Youtube, and sites like Twitter and Instagram were buzzing with related hashtags the night the teasers dropped.
As for when fans will get an actual trailer for Ghost in the Shell, that's yet to be determined. Colligan said footage will come but that they're "going to have some more fun with this for a little while longer."