How Paramount is Using Wattpad to Explore 'Project Almanac's' Theme of Second Chances

Project Almanac - P 2014

The social storytelling platform is having its top writers revisit popular stories and change a pivotal moment

In Paramount's upcoming film, Project Almanac, a group of teens stumble upon a time machine and use it to fix their problems before realizing that messing with the past could have drastic consequences for the future.

For social storytelling platform Wattpad, the film offered the perfect opportunity for the Toronto-based startup to continue its partnerships with movies and TV shows by creating stories and reading lists inspired by the found-footage title.

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"Something like Project Almanac stands out to us," Wattpad head of business development Aron Levitz tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's about our demographic; it's about second choices; it's about things people in our demographic are going through."

Wattpad's 35 million users, read, write and engage with stories uploaded online, including a fair amount of fan fiction. The platform, which exists as a website and mobile app, is particularly popular among young women and previously partnered with films like Fox's The Fault in Our Stars, Universal's The Purge: Anarchy and Ouija and three Relativity titles: last year's Romeo and Juliet, Best of Me and Beyond the Lights.

Levitz says Wattpad reached out to Paramount, which had been keeping an eye on Wattpad and was intrigued by its past collaborations with films.

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"We have been watching Wattpad for quite some time and think it's a really exciting and new emerging online social destination, not only for young adult book fans to discover and share stories, but beyond that, it's becoming a kind of a hub and influencer-type community, and something that's been bubbling up in terms of social platforms," Paramount's senior vp, interactive marketing Megan Wahtera tells THR. "So for us, highlighting the themes of something like second chances and wish fulfillment, all that are part of the thread of Project Almanac, were a perfect fit."

Levitz adds: "That idea of the do-over, the getting a second chance — what would you do differently? — is a theme that really resonates in Wattpad and resonates with our demographic. Especially day to day, they're going, 'Oh, could I have done that differently?' "

Focusing on second chances, Wattpad has commissioned three of its most popular writers, selected in collaboration with Paramount, to revisit one of their most popular stories and change a pivotal moment so that it impacts the outcome of the tale. Up first is a new take on a key moment in "After," the hit One Direction fan-fiction series that has more than a billion reads on Wattpad and secured writer Anna Todd a publishing deal. Incidentally, Paramount also acquired the movie rights to "After," which reimagines Harry Styles as a tattooed college student who falls in love with the main character Tessa.

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In "Never," Todd returns to the main character Tessa's first day of college, when she meets her roommate Steph, who's completely different from Tessa, and her mom urges her to switch rooms. In "After," Tessa begs her mom to let her stay, and Steph plays a pivotal role in Tessa meeting Harry. But "Never" asks, what if Tessa did switch rooms and never met Harry?

"Never's" Wattpad page and cover both reference Project Almanac and the title, which just went live a few days ago, already has 51,800 views as of Wednesday evening.

Two more stories are set to rollout in the weeks leading up to Project Almanac's Jan. 30 release: Blair Holden's "The Bad Boy's Choice," revisiting "The Bad Boy's Girl," which has 108 million reads; and Megan Do's "Dumbstruck," revisiting "Starstruck," which has 9.8 million reads.

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The Project Almanac page, which just launched a few days ago, has 11,000 followers as of Wednesday evening, and features more information about the campaign and the movie including its trailer and links to its official website and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. The Project Almanac page also includes links to two curated reading lists of popular Wattpad stories about "Second Chance Romance" and "Wish Fulfillment." There will also be a comment contest, asking readers to respond to the following question: "If you could get a chance to do something over again, what would it be?"

Wattpad says it specifically tries to cultivate partnerships with films that are aimed at the site's millennial audience, with Levitz saying it would likely stay away from content aimed at men over 45, for instance. Wahtera notes that Project Almanac is aimed at a young audience, with the studio seeing the Wattpad partnership as something that will works alongside promotions on other social platforms.

Wahtera says she's hopeful that the Wattpad partnership leads to meaningful engagement with Project Almanac's story.

"As our popular writers on Wattpad are retelling their stories, it makes a connection that's deeper with Project Almanac than just traditional online media," Wahtera says.