Why 'The Fault in Our Stars' Could Get Teens to Buy More Movies on Digital Platforms
LOS ANGELES - This week is going to be an important one for Hollywood's home video divisions.
As studios look to get more consumers to buy movies on digital platforms, "The Fault in Our Stars" could be the first major title that entices younger moviegoers to embrace Digital HD -- especially younger women.
Even before Tuesday's launch, the film was Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's most pre-ordered title ever, the studio said. The company does not release sales figures.
In the past, the majors have targeted fanboys, adults and families with early digital releases of superhero or sci-fi fare, Oscar-nominated dramas or animated films before they launch on DVD or Blu-ray. Until now, Fox's other top sellers have included "The Wolverine," "Prometheus," "Life of Pi," "12 Years a Slave" and "Rio 2," all targeting different demos.
But with "Fault," Fox's homevideo division is specifically reaching out to 13 to 17-year-old girls and women over 18 with an extended cut of the film on most digital platforms three weeks before its disc is available to purchase through traditional retailers on Sept. 16.
"This is a movie that's going to add an overall effect on the consumption of Digital HD by teens and younger people, especially young girls," Vincent Marcais, executive VP of brand marketing for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment told Variety. "This young audience already has a digital life. Their consumption of media is digital. When they buy music and books, it's digital. They do lots of things with movies digitally."
Fox purposefully chose this week to launch "Fault" as a Digital HD title because of the Labor Day holiday, during which it believes the film's young fans will host viewing parties with friends and encourage others to purchase the movie, as well. The three-week window is a considerable amount of time for the film to court a younger demographic that has traditionally preferred to rent films or stream YouTube videos.
Given the online buzz around the film's homevideo release, there is clearly pent up demand by fans to see the movie again. Directed by Josh Boone, the teen romance stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort and broke out this summer as one of the year's most profitable films, earning $280 million worldwide. It was produced for $12 million.
According to the online campaign and trailer, the extended cut promises "more Gus and Hazel," which could drive even more interest among fans of the film and John Green's bestseller, and generate considerable coin for Fox, making it one of the best Digital HD sellers to date.
While there have been TV spots for the film's Digital HD release, including commercials that aired during the MTV Video Music Awards, much of Fox's campaign for "Fault" has focused on social media platforms.
When it announced the Digital HD release date, Fox launched the Little Infinity Galaxy website where fans can make a promise on how they plan to have an extraordinary life, with the town where Fox receives the most fan promises receiving a "Fault" bench similar to the one in the film.
The studio also launched a community driven "Fault" scrapbook on Tumblr, featuring news images, video clips, illustrations and other content provided by the fans.
The film, itself, has amassed an impressive 9.7 million Facebook followers, another 730,000 on Twitter, nearly 179,000 on Tumblr and 376,954 on Instagram, considered the largest for a film.
Meanwhile, Green has 2.3 million on Facebook, 3 million Twitter followers and another 1.4 million on Instagram, with the "Fault" author promoting the homevid release on all of them.
The film's leads and director have their own loyal online following, with Elgort boasting nearly 3.4 million on Instagram.
Fox has made sure "Fault" is available on most platforms, including Apple's iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Verizon's FioS, Target Ticket, Comcast's Xfinity, Walmart's Vudu, Best Buy's Cinema Now, Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's Entertainment Network.
While the online stores are making the theatrical cut available for around $15, the extended version is priced at $20, which includes additional scenes, as well as the original theatrical release.
As an added incentive, fans who purchase a Digital HD copy of the film will receive six free "Fault" ringtones as a gift. Apple is also promoting extra features with its digital sales.
Companies like Comcast have been experimenting with higher price points, scoring late last year with "Despicable Me 2," which it sold on HD for $20.99 through its Xfinity TV store and "The Hunger Games" for $18.99 on HD.
The "Fault in Our Stars" release comes as the sale of movies on digital platforms is up 37% during the first six months of the year, generating $671 million, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.
That's as DVD and Blu-ray sales are down 8.2% to $3.26 billion, driven mostly by lower-priced discs. Rentals also were off 14% to $1.7 billion.
With "Fault," Fox only sees more of an opportunity to grow the Digital HD revenue stream.
"This is the title we're using to convince the younger audience to move to digital ownership," Marcais said.