At ShoWest, Kosse urges 'word-of-mouse'

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LAS VEGAS -- Universal Pictures International president David Kosse on Monday called on distributors and exhibitors to embrace the interactive features of the Internet as a way to connect with potential moviegoers.

Delivering the opening remarks at ShoWest's International Day Breakfast at the Paris hotel, Kosse said that because of the proliferation of film-related sites on the Web, "audiences are more engaged in films than ever before."

Citing such online parodies as a mock trailer for "There Will Be Blood" titled "There Will Be Milkshakes" as well as recent mash-ups of Uni's own trailer for the musical "Mamma Mia!" that added the voices of Alvin and the Chipmunks, Kosse noted that the "lines between producer and consumer are blurring," leading to what he called "a new pro-sumer."

"Advances in technology are enabling consumers to approach movies with new and different viewpoints," he said, noting that movie marketers have to adapt to take advantage of the situation.

"Saturation TV advertising the week before release is no longer enough to justify a blockbuster opening," he said, because "word-of-mouth has become word-of-mouse."

In an effort to embark on a "two-way dialogue, a conversation of sorts" with movie fans, he pointed to a couple of recent Uni initiatives.

The studio, for example, established a "Knocked Up" site on MySpace, where consumers spent an average of eight minutes. "Compare that to a 30-second TV spot," he said.

It also created a clip of Rowan Atkinson dancing in the character of Mr. Bean to promote "Mr. Bean's Holiday." The clip got 1.5 million views on YouTube in two weeks and a total of 3 million hits on all platforms.

"Holiday" went on to demonstrate the power of the international market, grossing $200 million before it even opened in the U.S.

Noting that exhibitors already have established Web sites for informational and ticketing purposes, Kosse urged exhibitors to beef up those sites with added promotional features.

"We need you to embrace this change and transform the sites," he said.
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