In a recent article in the trade paper The Hollywood Reporter, writer Todd Longwell tried to make a case for the major Hollywood studios working with websites of all kinds, from big sites like CHUD and Ain't It Cool News to niche sites like Movie Mom and Reel Geezers.
It's interesting to note that nearly everyone who left a comment on the article thinks Longwell is full of hot air. And as one of the people who left a comment, I agree. Movie studios do next to nothing to work with so-called niche sites, at least not among the people I talk to. And I speak from personal experience.
I have worked my buns off for the past four years trying to get the major studios to include our sites, Popcorn N Roses and Indie Film Spotlight, on their publicity lists. I have run into so many road blocks and brick walls that if the crashes were literal, I would have broken every bone in my body more than one hundred times.
The truth of the matter is that the major studios seem to consider sites like these as beneath them. They don't want to market to them, and in many cases even consider them the enemy.
I have tried several times to get on studio press release lists, and am usually buffeted back by a variety of rules, which vary from needing two letters of recommendation from other industry insiders to having at least a million hits a month on the site. Or they want web metrics going back several years, and demand to see growth every month, which is entirely unrealistic. Trying to get press passes for screenings, interviews with casts and crew members of movies, and even review screeners is virtually impossible in most cases. Or they demand that your site be MPAA-accredited before they can add you... and for the record, MPAA offers no such accrediting. Trust me, I've checked.
Longwell's article talks about movie blog writers being invited to visit movie sets, getting exclusive access to stars, and getting 'raw' screeners from filmmakers looking for a public opinion on their work in progress. It just doesn't happen for 99% of the bloggers out there — just the 1% that the studio has decided is worth courting.
Let me point out three very specific examples, if I may.
In August 2008, I tried to approach Warner Brothers Studios with a well thought out plan that would have had Popcorn N Roses offer an exclusive contest which would revolve around the DVD release of Speed Racer. The idea would be to offer several Speed Racer prize packages, with the grand prize winner receiving a Blu-ray player and a library of 10 Warner Brothers movies, including the Blu-ray version of Speed Racer. I sent contact letters outlining my proposal for cross promotions and entry methods to at least four people in the Warner Brothers publicity department. Not only did they apparently not want to have my backing - I had named Speed Racer one of the best movies of the year - but they apparently didn't even consider my proposal. I didn't receive a single answer to my e-mails about the proposal, nor did I receive any kind of callback on the several phone calls I made.