Hollywood’s new favorite way to market a high concept studio sci-fi film is the quasi-viral soft sell. Sometimes they’re fake advertisements for fictional companies (like for RoboCop and Elysium); other times, they come in the form of an endorsement by a third-party brand to give the viral clip more legitimacy (like the Prometheus TED talk). But the underlying goal is the same: Edutain audiences about the world of the film without ever expressly stating This Is An Ad For a Potential Blockbuster.
The latest iteration is the first teaser for the M. Night Shyamalan-helmed Will and Jaden Smith sci-fi adventure After Earth, out June 2013, about a father and son who crash land on Earth 1,000 years after humanity evacuated the increasingly inhospitable planet. Instead of any shots of its two stars, however, the video traces how the crash landing of an extra-terrestrial space craft helped boost human technology, and ultimately led to the inevitable disintegration of the planet. It also introduces the Raige family, the pioneers of this technology and the descendants of Will and Jaden Smith’s respective characters. Interestingly, the entire timeline is presented as part of, well, a Facebook timeline — though the actual Facebook page for the film has barely developed.
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