Will lightning strike twice for the Blair Witch cabal? And will the glitzy Hollywood premiere as we know it with red carpet, klieg lights and screaming fans soon go "Poof"?
Artisan Entertainment is gambling yes on both counts as it launches an ambitious, 64-hour "WebFest" Wednesday to promote its "Blair Witch Project" sequel, "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2." The $10 million movie opens Oct. 27, just in time for Halloween weekend.
Blair Witch WebFest (www.blairwitchwebfest.com) which consists of chats, auctions, contests, games and live performances by soundtrack artists Poe and Godhead is being hyped by Artisan as "a ground-breaking online convention."
"No film studio has ever done anything of this nature," said LeAnne Gayner, Artisan's VP of theatrical marketing. "It's an opportunity to give back to the old and new fans of the 'Blair Witch' franchise. We have no idea how many people will participate: It could be in the hundreds of thousands or in the millions."
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who described himself as "a huge fan of the original 'Blair Witch,"' is skeptical about the WebFest. "It's always a trap when you get too successful," he cautioned. "It becomes all slick, and you lose some of the magic. The original 'Blair Witch' caught on as a fad because its marketing was so corny."
In 1999, Artisan, a small New York-based distributor, made Hollywood marketing history with a zero-budget ad campaign and its "Blair Witch Project" Web site (blairwitch.com), crammed with phony character bios and academic-sounding data on a backwoods-Maryland curse. The cyber send-off proved a word-of-mouse sensation, propelling the $22,000 indie "Blair Witch Project" movie into the stratosphere with a domestic gross of $140 million-plus, making it the top-grossing film (in terms of investment-to-profit ratio) of all time.