Remember the movie Blair Witch Project? It was hyped as something that actually happened and a lot of people actually bought it even when in the back of their mind, they knew that what they were watching in the movie theater wasn't really real. That movie kind of was part of the reality show trend that began some years back. Well, Hollywood took note of how some movies can be marketed this way and marketers have made good use of the Internet to advertise movies.
If you haven't noticed, the marketing machine of Hollywood has turned to social networks, blogs, and other sites that are normally used by people to talk about things. One example is the way marketers of Journey to the Center of the Earth made it appear that an institution and even a scientist character in the movie actually existed. A website and even a blog was put up just to explore the "veracity" of Vernian lore (already removed and replaced by a post-theatrical-release marketing site).
It's interesting how the posts were written and how a reader can actually be taken for a ride. Basically, that's what Journey to the Center of the Earth is about in the first place. It's an adventure ride in which you suspend belief for just short of two hours.
Another example of a movie in which Hollywood marketing that makes the most of people's tendency to suspend belief, and even spread the idea used in a movie as factual, is 2012. Now that's a scary movie and is one based on actual beliefs that the world will end in December of that year. This is what many believe will happen and it's just because the ancient Mayan calendar ends in that year. If you make a search for 2012, a lot of sites will pop up. Some of these actually deal with the Mayan calendar while some are about the events that will supposedly happen when the time comes. However, some of these sites are really marketing tools for the 2012 movie. Here's one in Facebook: 2012 Movie.
The marketers of 2012 have actually constructed a network of social sites and blogs that creates a kind of reality behind the movie. It's a viral campaign that rides on an existing one which involves people who are actually following up on events that will lead to a culmination of sorts in 2012, when the world will end supposedly. Well, some people think that movie producers have gone a bit far in their marketing. It's like the hoax about the boy stuck in the balloon which was made to appear as real. It caused a lot of trouble for authorities, not to mention the expenses for a rescue that wasn't needed.
As for the 2012 movie, well, it's obviously fiction, but people are still scared by the idea that the world will soon end and experts say that with the way Hollywood is marketing it, the movie may cause unnecessary panic. NASA scientist, David Morrison says this through Discovery News, "I don't have anything against the movie. It's the way it's been marketed and the way it exploits people's fears." Morrison's online column for NASA, Ask an Astrobiologist, got more than a thousand questions about the end of the world. His answer: The world isn't going to end in 2012.