The buzz about Fox's "The Simpsons Movie"has been so hot--and tracking of knowledge of the film so broad--that Fox is expanding the film's debut to 3,922 theaters and about 5,700 screens. Fox is cautiously expecting to hit the mid $30 million dollar range, but the average prediction for the $70 million budget film's opening weekend is over $57 million dollars, and it's sure to take the top spot. Fox enters the summer movie game with a huge advantage: "The Simpsons" has an unparalleled built-in audience. The viewers that have kept the TV show a mainstay on Fox for 18 years are expected to turn out in droves.
Hardly sitting on its laurels, Fox has executed one of the most surprising marketing campaigns I've seen yet. Instead of placing big American brands in the film, or placing plastic Bart dolls in Happy Meals, Fox is effectively Simpsonizing America, bringing its fictional brands to life. Simpsons creator Matt Groening and producer James L. Brooksdecided not to use real brands in the show, inventing their own brands instead, and now they're taking the real companies those brands are based on and making THEM real.
They've transformed a dozen 7-11s into Quik-E-Marts--I just drove by one in Burbank and boy does it look like it's right off the TV screen! And 7-11 stores across the country are selling the products the Simpson family indulges in--including Squishees, and the generic Simpson brand drinks and soda. Fans can't get enough--lines are around the block. Jet Blue declared itself the official airline of the Simpsons, and was much more silly about it than you'd expect from the usually serious airlines (and serious for good reason). Jet Blue reported that CEO David Neeleman's blog had been hacked by C. Montgomery Burnswho wanted to deliver advice on how to run an airline.
Also willing to poke fun at itself, partner Burger King has Krusty Burger fan Krusty the Klown to promote his burger and attack the Whopper in a BK spot. Buger King hosts a Web site that allows users to "Simpsonize" themselves--turn their photos into Simpsons' characters. I've gotten emailed a dozen of these--and they're usually pretty dead on. The site has been so overloaded it's been down an awful lot. And when I uploaded my picture it wouldn't work! If anyone figures it out let me know--I wonder if my hair would look like Marge's should I enter that world!
And as with everything in the News Corp empire, the question always becomes the Dow Jones takeover. Matt Groening couldn't dodge the question when the New York Times Magazine asked. While he appreciates Rupert Murdoch's sense of humor when it comes to the show, he does not endorse Murdoch taking over the Wall Street Journal!
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