I’m a huge movie lover, but I’ve hardly ever met an official website I didn’t hate. I always assumed it was because they’re generally full of flash and graphics with very little text. I’m a writer, I like reading. Chris Thilk, the author of the AdAge article agreed with me and he took it one step further. It’s not just that official websites are bad, it’s that the Facebook pages are better.
Facebook pages usually have more links to trailers, more photos but most of all, they have a means of exchanging information. I can ask a question about a film or proclaim my love of the lead actor. Few official movie sites are set up for this kind of interaction. Their idea of interaction is allowing me to type my name in so the site addresses me properly when I play their silly up and down button games.
In order to engage with the movie goer, Thilk suggests that studios do a better job of looping all of their products together. Use the Facebook and Twitter to mention a new trailer that’s on the official site. More importantly, he says studios have to “commit to the conversation.” Why corral a whole page full of fans then ignore them when they ask questions? That’s the problem with both websites and movie FB pages — often they feel like empty theaters. Pretty pictures on the wall but no butts in the seats.
I imagine that one of the reasons movie Facebook pages do have more information is because they are easier to update. It’s easy to slip in an unexpected appearance by the star in his home town, but adding a notation to a finely crafted flash site is near impossible.
Before writing this, I went to the official website for The Social Network. The opening screen (seen above) isn’t inviting and is a little confusing. I clicked the button to enter and got a slowly loading popup window with quotes from critics. None of which I read. Then I had to click another button which took me to the window you see here. At that point I said forget it.
Usability must be a dirty word in Hollywood because it’s obvious they were going for art over substance. I shouldn’t have to click through three sets of windows just to get my first snippet of useful or interesting info. That’s why Facebook works. When I hit the fan page for Secretariat, I see a question I’m likely to answer, photos from the premiere, a video tab with trailers and lots of conversation. That’s how you get people excited about a movie, or for that matter, any product, service or person.
Do you know of a movie website that engages? Point it out to us. We’d like to know.