The 12 Ballsiest Movie Publicity Stunts
In this economy, filmmakers will do just about anything to boost ticket sales. And when they've already placed larger-than-life ads all over the world, what more can you do? Publicity, silly!
Since the dawn of time, movie folks have gone to great lengths to get people to know — and hopefully see — their latest projects. But it's no easy task. Now that film publicity is more common than ... well, movies themselves, the tactics have become crazier. Raunchier. Scarier. Really, just more of a giant, fabulous hot mess. -- By Christopher Rosa and Jacqueline Lem
With so many outrageous stunts to choose from, ranking the 12 ballsiest publicity ploys was no easy task. But we have it. So, ladies and gents — grab a pencil and take notes, as we present "How to Get People to See Your S**t 101."
12. 'Bruno' (2009)
Stunt: Sacha Baron Cohen Lands on Eminem During 2009 MTV Movie Awards
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? Or rather, storm out of the MTV Movie Awards? At the now-infamous 2009 awards show, Eminem found himself in a totally cringe-worthy situation when Cohen's alter ego Bruno "accidentally" landed — a**-to-face — on the rapper while presenting the award for Best Male Performance. Attendees and audiences alike were stunned by the bizarre mishap, but the joke was on us when it was later revealed that Eminem was in on the entire stunt. Despite being completely staged, this performance still flashed some skin and risked physical harm, making it just ballsy enough to make the cut at number twelve.
11. 'Jackass Number Two' (2006)
Stunt: Steve-O Publicly Pees on the Red Carpet
When you think "Jackass", the word "classy" isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind. But at the premiere of his new film, "Jackass Number Two", Steve 'Steve-O' Glover took things to a whole new — and disgusting — level. Echoing the film's theme of sheer idiocracy, the stuntman decided it would be a great idea to use the red carpet as his own personal bathroom … and by personal, we mean in front of all spectators and photographers, of course. Guess we shouldn't be surprised, given Steve-O & Co.'s no-holds-barred mentality both on- and off-screen. Either way, the star's little stint generated a ton of buzz for the sequel and gave a whole new meaning to the term "jackass."
10. 'The To-Do List' (2013)
Stunt: Aubrey Plaza Crashes the Stage at the MTV Movie Awards
In a more recent stunt, "The To-Do List" star Aubrey Plaza staged what seemed to be a Kanye West/Taylor Swift VMA gag. During Will Ferrell's acceptance speech at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, Plaza scurried onto the stage and attempted to steal his golden popcorn. She looked radiant, especially with the "#ToDoList" plug written across her chest. Ferrell seemed unfazed, telling the audience, "Aubrey Plaza, everyone. Just like we rehearsed." Whether spontaneous or staged, the bit did its job —"The To Do List" is one of July's most-anticipated films.
9. 'Office Space' (1999)
Stunt: Man Suspended in Glass Cubicle Overlooking Times Square for an Entire Week
If you're currently sitting in a cubicle reading this (get back to work!), just know that it could be a lot, lot worse. At least you're not suspended in the air, stuck inside a twelve-by-twelve foot plexiglass cubicle overlooking Times Square. Yes, you heard us right. To promote the film "Office Space", a comedy about the monotony of everyday work life, marketers placed a man inside a cube for an entire week, where he had to file TPS reports and answer phone calls — all the while being photographed by spectators. Talk about a bad case of the Mondays! That 9-to-5 job doesn't sound too bad now, does it? However, there were some perks: Krispy Kreme delivered a complimentary box of donuts and Howard Stern sent over a hot massage therapist.
8. 'The Wackness' (2008)
Stunt: Producers Give Away a Thousand Bags of Weed to Promote DVD Release
Imagine "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", but for adults. If this sounds like heaven to you, then look no further than the publicity for "The Wackness", which mixed the "golden ticket" idea with something that makes people very, very happy: weed. To market the film's DVD release, producers included in a thousand DVDs a free trip to Amsterdam and a bag of weed upon arrival. As expected, the promotion stirred controversy among anti-drug organizations, but the PR firm stood by their efforts. "'The Wackness' is all about people coming together through a love of weed, and we're just celebrating that fact," it said.
7. 'Independence Day' (1996)
Stunt: Fake "Breaking News" Broadcast of an Alien Invasion
We've all heard about the infamous "War of the Worlds" 1938 radio broadcast, during which audiences thought Earth was actually being attacked by aliens. Fast-forward 58 years, and we've got a similar — but much more formulated — situation on our hands. For "Independence Day", marketers constructed an entire thirty-minute news broadcast that would be "suddenly interrupted" by breaking news reports of an alien invasion. Intercut with footage from the film, this fabricated broadcast proved to be so realistic that some viewers called 911 in panic.
6. 'Blow' (2001)
Stunt: Cocaine Mirrors Distributed at Sporting Events and Bars
Cocaine at football games? Well, that's a new one ... or at least what the studios had in mind when they developed the publicity for "Blow", a film about real-life drug lord George Jung's cocaine empire in the 1970s. To promote the film, marketers distributed small mirrors — a.k.a. cutting boards for cocaine — to people hanging out at bars and sporting events. Whoa, buddy. Not surprisingly, the promotion received some backlash, with critics accusing promoters of glorifying drug use.
5. 'I'm Still Here' (2010)
Stunt: Joaquin Phoenix Shows Up Bearded and Ready to Rap on "Letterman"
At the time, everyone dubbed Phoenix's bizarre appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman" a career-ending move. But the joke was on us when Phoenix revealed the TV spot was all part of his two-year performance art piece for the 2010 documentary (later revealed mockumentary — surprise!) "I'm Still Here", directed by Casey Affleck. Phoenix played Joaquin Feenix, a drugged-out, hairier, chubbier version of his studly self. He decided to take his character for a test run on "Letterman," where he showed off his rapping skills (or lack thereof). The hoax fooled everyone ... and revived Phoenix's career.
4. 'House of Wax' (2005)
Stunt: Warner Bros. Markets Film With "See Paris Die" Campaign
When Warner Bros. cast Paris Hilton in its "House of Wax" remake, it wasn't for her acting chops — but rather, to capitalize on one major fact at that time: The world hated her. WB performed an industry no-no by telling audiences that Hilton, publicized as a bratty socialite ("that’s hot" — ugh, cringe) on "The Simple Life," was getting brutally murdered in the film. The result? People came to theaters in droves to witness their least favorite celebrity get bludgeoned to death. WB even sold "See Paris Die" T-shirts as part of the campaign. We guess that's hot, too?
3. 'Iron Man Three' (2013)
Stunt: Fake Gunman Invades a Jefferson City Movie Theater
Perhaps Bob Wilkins, manager of the Goodrich Capital 8 Theater in Jefferson City, Mo. should have thought harder before this one. Despite a real gunman killing 12 people at an Aurora, Colo. theater less than a year before, Wilkins thought it'd be a real ticket-booster to have a fake gunman crash a screening of "Iron Man Three". Well, theater-goers called the police, thinking the actor posed an actual threat to their lives. So does Wilkins have any regrets? "No, my job is to entertain people," Wilkins told a local news station. Maybe try a raffle next time.
2. 'The Dictator' (2012)
Stunt: Sacha Baron Cohen Spills Ashes on Ryan Seacrest at the Oscars
He’s back! This time, though, Cohen messed with one of the most powerful people in Hollywood (no kidding — he owns everything): Ryan Seacrest. On the red carpet at the 84th Academy Awards, Cohen paid a visit to Seacrest as his "Dictator" character Admiral General Aladeen. With him was a jar of what Cohen claimed to be the ashes of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il (actually pancake mix). So what does Cohen do? Oh, ya know, dump the ashes on Seacrest's probably-expensive tuxedo. The media went crazy … and Seacrest probably skipped "The Dictator" at the movies.
1.'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)
Stunt: Marketers Claim the Movie Is "Real" and Actors "Missing and Assumed Dead"
Oh Lady Blair, your film publicity skillz are still the fairest of them all. When "The Blair Witch Project" hit theaters in 1999, filmmakers were determined to make it a success. How? By claiming it was 100 percent real. Yup. Marketers said the movie's three actors (who never made public appearances) were all "missing and assumed dead." They even hung "missing" posters around the Sundance Film Festival to boost buzz. The result? The most successful hoax in movie history — "Blair Witch" grossed about $250 million (on a $22,000 budget), and a new genre (horror
docmockumentary) was born.