For years, Joss Whedon was known to adoring fans as the creator of such TV shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. Then he was given the reins of one of the most anticipated summer films of 2012: The Avengers. For months, fans stood rapt as information about the shoot trickled in. Then shooting wrapped, and news of Joss and co. began to fade for awhile. Or it would have until, a few weeks later, a movie poster was released. But not for The Avengers. It said, simply, “Much Ado About Nothing. A Film by Joss Whedon, Based on a Play,” along with a comprehensive cast list that “Whedonites” were sure to recognize.
Soon the confirmation came that this poster was authentic, and the movie was real. When did Whedon have time to make something like this? It was his vacation. After shooting wrapped on The Avengers and before post-production began, he brought some friends over to his house and, over 12 days, literally shot the film in his backyard. Fortunately, his friends happen to be the casts of shows like Buffy and Firefly.
But this isn’t the story of how Joss Whedon made the movie. This is the story of how it’s being promoted. When The Avengers came out, hype for it drowned out the tiny Much Ado film, and it was largely forgotten. But then, a few months later, there was an official Facebook page. And then not long afterwards, a trailer. And the buzz began.
Much Ado’s Facebook page is still relatively small, but it knows how to generate excitement. It regularly posts stills from the film, along with quotes (which Shakespeare fans will already recognize), that are designed to pique fans’ curiosity. In addition, it poses questions to the fans, or requests such as, “Like this photo if you’re excited for the release of Much Ado.” Encouraging this activity helps reinforce the film and its upcoming release in the fans’ minds, as well as increase the overall effectiveness of the page itself. The more people like and comment on a page’s activity, the more visible it becomes in fans’ news feeds.
And the official Much Adopage isn’t the only one on Facebook that’s hyping the movie. Anumber of pages for Joss’s other projects promote the film to their fans, sharing important announcements, trailers, etc. One such page is Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, an Internet project from 2008, which itself was promoted in largely the same way—through social media and fan buzz—to overwhelming success.
In addition to the film’s Facebook presence, many of the major cast members have an active presence on Twitter, including Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, Tom Lenk, Clark Gregg and Sean Maher. They each share updates about the film’s progress with their own followers, in anticipation of its June release date.
Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing isn’t The Avengers. It’s not going to shatter any ticket sale records or make a billion dollars at the box office. But thanks to careful social media marketing, it already has a loyal fan following. And when June rolls around, it stands poised to become a success in its own right.