MTV slasher pic gets social media campaign

Net solicits online votes to expand 'Savage County' to cable

NEW YORK -- MTV is looking for a bit of the same magic that corporate sibling Paramount had with "Paranormal Activity" as it experiments with new distribution and marketing methods in the digital age.

The cable network has teamed with digital information service and marketer Eventful to launch a social media campaign for its forthcoming indie slasher film "Savage County," which it originally had planned to release as a Web series.

MTV still doesn't plan to release it in theaters, but it has added a potential TV run to the mix that would come in October, in time for Halloween.

To help raise awareness and create a sense of investment in the 80-minute film, MTV is working with Eventful to allow folks to "demand" to see the movie at http://eventful.com/competitions/savagecounty2010. If at least 100,000 people want it, MTV2 will air the movie, according to a spokesman (the website simply says "MTV").

The campaign quietly kicked off about two weeks ago, and the film had received just over 64,000 "demands" as of Tuesday night.

"We're still in a world where movie and TV seem like the A+ level platforms, so we wanted to add the TV element," said David Gale, executive vp of MTV new media and executive producer of "Savage County." "Theatrical is the one and only platform we'll forgo, and that's by design. Costs of distributing films are very high. However, this is a low-cost production, and we think we can recoup the cost and then some" in alternative ways.

Beyond selling ads around the film's potential TV and digital distribution, MTV is looking to sell international rights and bring in syndication revenue. Gale also eyes an unrated DVD and download-to-own distribution down the line.

"Savage County," by untested director David Harris, is about a group of teens who collide with their town's dark past when a prank gone wrong makes them the target of a family of bloodthirsty killers.

Unlike with much of today's Hollywood superhero or book-based fare, "there is no built-in audience, because this is not a known franchise," Gale said. "The online voting seemed like a cool way to get people engaged to see it."

The film cost $250,000-$300,000 to make. "Paranormal Activity" cost an estimated $11,000 and went on to gross nearly $108 million at the U.S. boxoffice.

"Paranormal Activity" also used Eventful's "Demand It" feature in a couple of ways. Eventually, 1 million demands gave the green light for the film's nationwide release.

Jordan Glazier, CEO of Eventful, said his firm started moving into the film and TV space within the past 18 months.

Nearly 16 million people use Eventful to find out about film and music events and the like. More than 3 million of them have identified themselves as being interested in horror films, which allows for targeting. "We help identify people who are passionate about something and instill in them a sense of participation and ownership," Glazier said.
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