Website design crucial in drawing audience to movie theatres

May 18, 2006, volume 36, no. 2
By Diane Luckow

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Movie websites can be a powerful marketing tool if they're designed correctly, says SFU MBA candidate Clayton Mitchell.

His 150-page MBA thesis identifies how to create a positive website experience for potential movie viewers.

The thesis demonstrates how a website can affect consumers' attitudes toward the movie as well as the likelihood they will see it, talk about it and encourage others to view it.

For his research, Mitchell first created a model based on existing literature on the topic.

He then designed a consumer questionnaire based on the website for the Amityville Horror movie remake, which featured a section called truth that included interviews with a psychic who had visited the haunted house, as well as information about the real murders that took place there.

He next recruited groups of people, showing some just the movie preview and others just the website.
Finally, he compared the groups' comments on the questionnaire as well as comparing them with the model.
The results?

People want entertainment from a preview and information from a website, says Mitchell. “They want it to stimulate their need for knowledge.”

Most movie websites, he says, try to entertain consumers with games and tidbits.

Instead, he says, “They should be developing story-related content. People want knowledge about the topic of the movie - and most movies have an ability to educate people, even if they're fiction.”

Mitchell's thesis research also reveals that movie-goers want high-speed simplistic websites. In fact, entertainment value rated well below website speed in his survey.

A good movie website, he says, lets consumers manipulate the movie experience.

“Radio, TV and previews all mirror a film's experience,” he points out, while “websites stimulate the need for knowledge and conversation. They can enhance the movie experience and go way beyond it.”

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