Lionsgate perfected its marketing tactics with the first Hunger Games film, and now, even though the second installment is seven months away and even though every other blockbuster has gotten desperate on social media, they're whetting the appetites of rabid young fans, one would-be viral Catching Fire image at a time.
The slow-and-steady-wins-the-race strategy may be something of an industry model: There's a fever for information about this movie, but the studio refuses to provide an overload, or to stoop to lame must-be viral tactics. For instance, the official Catching Fire Facebook page posted this image last night, of Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss looking forlorn—does she ever not?—and hugging her sister, Prim.
Now, this photo has also been released as part of Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games Explorer" project, a site with a full-on countdown to the trailer release—and which also helps release Catching Fire images via Twitter. The website prompts visitors to tweet #HungerGamesExplorer, which we did for the purposes of journalism or something. Geek Smash explains the system: "The more people to use the hashtag #HungerGamesExplorer on twitter, the more the picture slowly becomes visible, pixel by pixel." Here, for instance, is how one picture looks as of Thursday morning:
That sure looks like a fuzzy Katniss to us.
Remember, this Sunday's MTV Movie Awards will feature a teaser trailer for Catching Fire, for which we've already been teased with 10 seconds of not very fascinating footage. MTV has since released a GIF—yes, we're in the era of GIF teasers now—essentially picking up where those ten seconds left off.
Peeta looks so schlubby for being a winner of the Hunger Games.
Teasers for teasers can be frustrating. GIFs for teasers can be worse. Vine trailers are the worst. But viral marketing like the Hunger Games's "Explorer" site is a sign that actually engaging movie ads can exceed expectations while stoking them; that there can be movie lust in a time of teasers. And don't blame Lionsgate for the GIF; blame MTV.