As SXSW’s film and interactive festivities drew to a close, this year’s theme was clear: it was all about reinvention. As thousands of tech and film geeks converged on Austin, publicists, studios, and brands all jostled for the attention of hung over and jaded journalists and influencers.
But the usual swag and posters weren’t going to cut it. Instead, with both linear TV-viewing and movie theater-attending habits changing – to say the least – the most shrewd attempted to transport viewers inside shows and films.
Take a full-on replica of the Bates Motel, for instance, from the TV series of the same name. “If you watch the show, it’s a little bit creepy, it’s a little bit off,” said Elizabeth Luciano, the mastermind behind the fully functional replica. “We want that to be encapsulated in this motel experience.”
The strategy showed up elsewhere in Austin, too, like in a pop-up Kiwk-E-Mart celebrating “The Simpsons” and its 25 years on the air. In another “Game of Thrones” experience, fans could sit on a steel throne and swing swords like the show’s characters themselves. Even reality shows, like NatGeo’s “Life Below Zero,” got in on the action.
The marketing pressure makes sense when you look at the broadcast and moviegoer numbers for young people. In the first two months of this year, ratings were down over 10 percent total for broadcast and cable. And the film industry is currently seeing its lowest number of frequent moviegoers in the 18-to-39-year-old age bracket. Most of us in that age group watch only about six movies in theaters over the entire year.
But production companies are hoping for a plot twist in 2015 – and this edition of SXSW could be considered the big premiere of their latest act. Check out the video to see what impressed us in Austin.