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The upcoming action flick, The Expendables (2010), proved that traditional poster advertisement and movie trailers are not sufficient in the social media age. The film is directed by (and starring) legendary bad-boy Sylvester Stallone, featuring many other action stars (i.e Jet Li, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger) and is set out to premier in theaters on August 13 2010. Besides the buzz-worthy cast, the film received a lot of attention because of their innovative, and perhaps revolutionary, approach to film advertisement.

Simulating the YouTube website, The Expendables, staged a mock interview video with Stallone. On the side bar the video thumbnails are animated and are reacting to what Stallone is saying–until they point their guns and laser beams appear in the main video on Stallone’s chest.  Stallone’s reaction– naturally — is to blow up the entire YouTube screen. This is quite a spectacle because explosions are not an everyday occurrence on YouTube.com.

Stallone’s last words? “Don’t Forget To Share”. And you know what that means? If Stallone says to share, you oughta Tweet or Facebook the darn video. This is an extremely smart move from a marketing and distribution perspective — think about where your consumption of film trailers takes place. Online? Yes. on YouTube.com? Most likely. Film distributors and production companies are aware that video consumers have shifted off the big Tube and onto the innertubes. Especially in this instance where the film’s target audience are tech-conscious males (and perhaps, on a smaller scale–females).

Not only is this advertisement extremely conscious of post-post-modern media consumption trends, they are also taking the opportunity to presell the film by inserting a “Buy Advanced Tickets Now” button next to the Twitter and Facebook share buttons. Now this is what I call killing-two-birds-with-one-stone-advertisement.

Watch the Explosion here.

This advertisement also breaks the traditional act of watching-and-consuming, usually the viewer simply clicks play and watches the video on its designated platform. Rarely do the subjects interact with the viewer. In this instance, not only does Stallone interact with the viewer but the explosion of the platform is also a form of interaction. This is extremely evocative of Brecht’s “Fourth Wall” theory: in traditional theatre, the Fourth Wall is referred to the space on the stage between the actors and the audience. The Fourth Wall was typically broken (i.e. the actor directly addressed the audience during a play) for emphasis or special effect. Such is the case here. The explosion of the YouTube platform is the breaking of the Fourth Wall for special effect and lasting impression.

The Expendables advertisement is a great example of how traditional storytelling has evolved and adapted to new storytelling platforms.

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One thought on “Breaking The Fourth (E)Wall

  1. The link to the explosion doesn’t work 😦

    But I’ll take your word for it! Sounds like a good example of embracing technological change for what it is and taking full advantage of it.

    In marketing speak, “don’t forget to share” is a call to action. Most movie trailers seem to miss out on that even though we all know its importance.

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