Top 10 Promotional Stunts for Movies



Top 10 Promotional Stunts for Movies

VOICE OVER: Matthew Wende WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Script written by Nathan Sharp

Wait, all that was for a movie?! From Carrie, to Million Dollar Mystery, to The Blair Witch Project, these films went all out when it came to promoting themselves. WatchMojo counts down the top promotional stunts for movies.

Special thanks to our user MikeMJPMUNCH2 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Promotional+Stunts+for+Films
Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top Ten Promotional Stunts for Movies

And this is how you do marketing right. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top Ten Promotional Stunts for Movies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the greatest and most innovative promotional stunts that were used to generate hype and buzz for a film.

#10: Telekinetic Coffee Shop Girl

“Carrie” (2013)
In Stephen King’s novel, Carrie is an abused high school girl who discovers that she has telekinetic abilities and uses them to kill students and destroy her hometown. It's very... Stephen King. So, to promote the 2013 remake, the people behind the movie had a coffee shop play a little prank on its customers by featuring an actress throwing another actor against the wall, moving tables, and making books and pictures fly from their spots, all by using her supposed telekinetic abilities. Real customers freaked the hell out, and the video soon went viral, amassing over 68 million views on YouTube as of early 2018.

#9: Devil Baby

“Devil’s Due” (2014)
To promote “Devil’s Due,” an animatronic devil baby was created and let loose within the streets of New York City. The baby had a grotesque appearance, complete with black eyes and bile around its mouth, and it would create all sorts of havoc, like flipping cops the bird, popping up and scaring passers-by, and projectile vomiting some sort of milk-like liquid. It would be terrifying to witness, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, either. It’s a mostly harmless prank, and the video footage of it certainly made an impression on the Internet and got people talking.

#8: Free Pot

“American Ultra” (2015)
Yes, unbelievably, “American Ultra” gave out free weed at Comic-Con. However, it’s not like they just grabbed a handful of pot and made it rain on the crowd. Instead, it was only available to those who had a legal, medicinal cannabis card. Real Care Inc. delivered free samples of a unique “American Ultra” strain to those who had a card, and it undoubtedly made their days. Amid the many forms of entertainment vying for attention at Comic-Con, free weed is certainly a fantastic way to get your name out there, and you help some people who genuinely need the drug in the process. Win win.

#7: Transforming 7-Elevens into Kwik-E-Marts

“The Simpsons Movie” (2007)
To promote the then-upcoming Simpsons movie, several 7-Eleven locations were transformed into Kwik-E-Marts, complete with a redesigned exterior and Simpsons-themed treats like Buzz Cola and Krusty-O’s. This cost a quoted $10 million to implement, but it was a resounding success, with the altered 7-Elevens seeing a 30% spike in profits. The movie eventually went on to gross $74 million in its opening weekend, making it the third highest opening weekend for an animated film, behind only “Shrek 2” and “Shrek the Third.” Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart? We all do, apparently.

#6: Real Chucky

“Child’s Play” (1988)
Those poor tourists who just wanted to see Times Square and ended up getting chased by Chucky brandishing a butcher knife! To promote the 20th anniversary DVD release of “Child’s Play,” a horde of actors dressed as Chucky descended upon Times Square where they ran amok and playfully caused terror among the hustle and bustle, complete with butcher knives, cleavers, and axes. While the actors don’t look that much like Chucky – especially considering Chucky is, like, one-foot tall – it would still be delightfully terrifying to see a human-sized one running towards you with an outstretched knife.

#5: Treasure Hunt

“Million Dollar Mystery” (1987)
In this flick, a White House employee hides $4 million in various locations, but only $3 million of it is found. So audiences were given the chance to “find” this money in real life by buying Glad-Lock Bags and filling out a form, declaring where the money was located from clues given in the movie. 14 year old Alesia Jones guessed that the money was in the Statue of Liberty’s nose, and she subsequently won the prize in a random draw, beating out thousands of others who correctly guessed the location as well. Given that this Tom Bosley-led film cost $10 million and earned back less than a tenth of that, she was the only winner here.

#4: Brüno Flies into Eminem’s Lap

“Brüno” (2009)
Sacha Baron Cohen certainly knows how to generate buzz: if he isn’t spilling ashes all over Ryan Seacrest, he’s flying into Eminem’s lap and sticking his butt in the rapper’s face. Such was the case at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, when Cohen, performing as Bruno, flew over the crowd on wires before something “went wrong” and he landed in Eminem’s lap. Em was seemingly pissed, as he swore a couple of times – as is his way – and stormed out in a huff. It was embarrassing and cringy as hell, but it turned out that Eminem was in on it all along.

#3: Breaking News!

“Independence Day” (1996)
If you’re going to promote your $75 million blockbuster, you either go big or you go home. Fox took advantage of the huge crowd that Super Bowl XXX would bring and spent $1.3 million on a brief trailer to be shown during commercial break. The trailer quickly showed people running in the streets before it cut to the White House being blown up by an alien ship, with special effects that were unheard of at the time. The caption “Enjoy the Super Bowl. It may be your last” followed. The gamble paid off, and the ad generated an insane amount of publicity for the movie.

#2: It’s a Bomb!

“Mission: Impossible III” (2006)
File this one under the “someone surely got fired” category. In order to promote “MI:III,” 4,500 Los Angeles Times boxes were rigged with a device THAT would play the “Mission: Impossible” theme when the box was opened. However, many of the devices failed to stay in place and dropped into the newspapers. Passers-by noticed and, believing the devices to be explosives, called 911. This forced bomb squads to actually detonate boxes and caused a veterans hospital to be evacuated. The backlash from the botched stunt led John O'Loughlin, a VP with the LA Times, to comment: “we weren’t expecting anything like this.” You don't say...

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters” (2007)

Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson Appear at a Fashion Show
“Zoolander 2” (2016)

Trying to Invite President Bush to a ‘Borat’ Screening While in Character at the White House
“Borat” (2006)

#1: Pretending Like It Was Real

“The Blair Witch Project” (1999)
If you weren’t around for “The Blair Witch Project,” it’s hard to imagine just how much discussion and hype this movie’s marketing team were able to draw. The film’s website featured fake police reports and interviews, while “missing” posters were distributed during screenings to make the fictional events seem more realistic. When coupled with the movie’s found footage gimmick, which was a new concept at the time, people began to believe that the footage and story were real. The campaign worked incredibly well, as the movie grossed $248 million on a measly $60,000 budget. And that, friends, is how you market a movie.