Opens today!

There was a time when movies were only advertised on billboards and TV. Today, of course, they are advertised online and promoted on social media. Now, movie marketing has been taken to the next level with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which opens in theaters today.

Website From Another World

In the 2011 film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a chemical that made the apes more human like produced a fatal disease in humans. Now, 20th Century Fox has created an incredibly elaborate and realistic-looking website,, to detail all the symptoms of contamination, along within interactive map that tracks the disease’s spread since the last film.

Free Prequel Shorts Online

But that’s not all. There are also three individual short films, available online, that provide even more background on all the events that have taken place since Rise, and leading up to Dawn. Both the Simian Flu site and the films are free and spreading virally, generating incredible interest in what the latest big screen story will reveal.

Apes are in power, not only in the Dawn film, but on real-life Monkey Island as well.

The Spread

The first short film, Spread of Simian Flu: Before the Dawn of the Apes (Year 1), takes place in the first year that Simian Flu began to spread. It tells the story of a mother who is quarantined and separated from her family.

The Struggle

In the second short, Struggling to Survive: Before the Dawn of the Apes (Year 5), a teenage orphaned girl faces a world in which few humans remain, keeping herself alive by trading goods she has collected from homes of the dead.

The Path

The third installment, Story of the Gun: Before the Dawn of the Apes (Year 10), follows a shotgun as it passes from one doomed owner to another as the Simian Flu continues on its path of destruction.

The Real Life Apes

The films were created in collaboration with VICE’s Motherboard, who also produced Island of the Apes, a documentary on the real-life Monkey Island in Liberia, where former lab apes who survived both disease and civil war have staked their ground. Filmmakers capture the actual lives of these survivalist primates, and touch upon the neighboring communities intimidated by them.

Bet it Worked

If you find yourself wanting to see the flu site, the three shorts and the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (even if you’ve never been interested before), you are not alone. This multi-tiered marketing campaign is a brilliant example of how elaborate, interactive promotions can generate viral participation, sharing and intense curiosity that lead to major consumer consumption. The news outlets are abuzz this morning about the release of this film, and there are thousands of Facebook and Twitter users saying that they will be headed to see this film ASAP.

You’re Next

How might other companies – your company, for instance (large or small!) weave together a multi-tiered campaign to engage potential customers and garner sales? Let the brainstorming begin!

Photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox.