Overall 2014 was a fantastic year for films and franchises. Disney and Marvel having a stellar year in sales and in quality. Lionsgate holding strong as the Y.A. masters with their third installment of the Hunger Games franchise Mockingjay Part 1. Paramount sky rocketing into our hearts with the space adventure Interstellar. WB releasing the final film of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, the list goes on. All of these quality movies deserve our praise, and they'll get it, but not here, not today.
Today I praise the tech-geniuses and marketing gurus that create "in-world" experiences, games and websites allowing fans to prolong the magic that is theatrical entertainment.
Just about every movie will have an accompanying website for general information, ticket sales, trailers, your basic film material. But more and more movie websites are becoming an extension of the film not just a resource. The ability for fans to take part in elaborate, innovative, interactive experiences has only really been possible in recent years. Now with Virtual Reality on the rise and accessible to the masses this is just the beginning of fans interaction with the films and television they love.
In no particular order, here are the top five incredible movie websites of 2014!
1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Franchises are at an advantage when it comes to producing an impressive website and in-world experience; bigger budgets, longer time frames, more source material and so on. Even with that said TheHobbit.com delivers quite an elaborate and notable interactive experience with multiple games, a wallpaper generator, and partnership with Google called A journey through Middle Earth.
Each game offer easy user controls (which is important for me), a cohesive aesthetic throughout and enough excitement and challenge to keep me playing (for way too long).The site as with the film has impressive visual graphics even within game play.
Your goal is to "arrow down" the approaching orcs. Increasingly more challenging as you advance through the levels. It has a Flappy-Bird feel in the game play. Not over complicated and still giving the player credit for being competent.
This game was way more fun than anticipated. In an open world platform (think Zelda) you are able to flip between multiple characters, all with different weapons and "specials". The controls were easy to get the hang of even for a pathetic button masher like myself. And once again drawn in by the stunning graphics and exciting yet simple game play. Nailed it!
Journey Through Middle Earth Chrome Experience combines all 6 Lord of the Rings films into one experience. Check out below to see the impressive display.
Overall The Hobbit online fan experience is fun and visually interesting. It pushes the envelope of movie marketing by using resources like Google and keeps the fan community in mind with each interactive element.
2. X-Men Days of Future Past
Another film franchise but this one with an entirely different take on what an in-world experience should be. The Bent Bullet site is well thought out and chock-full of immersive historical fiction. The site works like an interactive documentary. Each slide delivering story points as fact accompanied by voice overs and videos, straight out of your typical Frontline expose. You are eventually taken through a virtual tour of Magneto's prison cell, which s super cool.
In addition to The Bent Bullet. X-Men Days of Future Past has created the 25 Moments website. Chronologizing 25 major happenings in our history (and future history) with a fictional twist. Each moment is visually represented beautifully, never wavering from the story they are telling.
Trask Industries also has an impressive website. The fictional company's site looks and performs exactly like a General Electric or other real-life company would. You can explore innovations, genetics, along with promoted propaganda, right down to applying for a job! Yep, that's a thing.
The attention to detail is spot on within this trilogy of sites. The teams behind this marketing clearly took pride in the story and delivered an interactive experience worthy of the fans time.
3. Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel movie website is full of video clips and trailers, which is lovely but nothing compared to the Akademie Zubrowka site. The accompanying website has so much to discover and is gorgeous!
Whether you are a Wes Anderson fan or not Akademie Zubrowka is worth checking out. A masterpiece of user discovery and stunning visuals. At first glance you may think I'm crazy but once you begin and dive into the site you uncover hidden clips, newspapers, images and unmatched design.
Maneuvering through the site is itself fun, physically scrolling the lower right circle to get from one slide to another. It's hard to describe the magnitude of what there is to find in this site, so many video clips, pictures, details all just slightly hidden beneath the surface.
Each hidden gem is beautiful and fits perfectly with the tone and look of the film. It is truly magnificent, each bit of interactivity is in lock step with the beauty and design of the site. This is a one-of-a-kind film and I say same for the website. Did I mention how pretty it is?!
4. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
The Hunger Games have mastered the concept of "world building". Since the beginning of the franchise the marketing team at Lionsgate has been creating a fan experience that has yet to be rivaled. My fan-girling aside, the elements that makeup The Hunger Games online experience are impressive. Capitol Couture, the fictional fashion magazine of Panem has carried on since the first Hunger Games film and is definitely worth checking out. The new set of websites created involve Capitol propaganda and "hacking" aspects which align with the new Mockingjay Part 1 film.
TheCapitol.pn and District13.co.in (Coin, get it?) work in tandem with each other. The Capitol pushes out pro-Capitol content while District 13 allows you to be a part of the uprising by hacking in and retrieving hidden messages from both sites. The hack can be a little tricky but here is a breakdown if you want to try it yourself. There are a total of 10 hacks that can be done on any of the Capitol pages. The lucky fans who discovered the hacks first are credited with their image and name (lucky).
In addition to the site the Captiol has created a Panem television network called CapitolTV, which released a series called "District Voices". The series of propaganda videos paired YouTube stars with the district that their skill set worked best with. Each video is set in-world with amazing production value.
This is a robust online experience, many of the incredible details I haven't even touched on but are totally worth checking out. The online Hunger Games universe, has created hours of extended entertainment challenging the fan community to be creative with discover, bravo!
Interstellar, the space-epic, sifi, adventure delivers an impressive and hefty website. Including interactive elements such as Solar System Creator, Endurance Space Explorer, Patch Creator and Test Flight along with a team up with Google for the Interstellar Space Hunt.
The Interstellar Space Hunt is a chance for fans to explore the universe using Google technologies to discover clips, behind the scenes content, promotional items, and more while soaring through space. Here is a breakdown of what you can find.
Endurance Space Explorer
The Endurance, Space Exploration Vehicle is way cool. Floating there in space begging you to investigate all the different areas. This element of the site is probably the most beautiful. The controls are smooth and seamless as is the detailed design.
Once locked on you can enter and explore 360˚ environments within the ship. These built out spaces are visually impressive, I'd love strap on a VR helmet and fly around them but for now my monitor is sufficient.
One of the coolest pieces is the "Time Capsule". Fans get to upload video, images, recordings and writings that showcase life on earth. The concept is quite beautiful, not only do we get to be a part of the film experience but we get to be a part of history.
We live in an amazing time, our comic books and novels come to life on the big screen, animation is mind-blowingly beautiful and it is all very accessible for many of us. Now with websites like the previous, extending out entertainment and allowing us to get inside the stories and worlds on a whole new level fans have it pretty great! As with any technology, once it has been done once someone else feels the need to do it better, bigger, and more bad-ass. And because of that everyone benefits. So looking toward 2015 films I'm excited to see what the websites have in store for the fans.
What films and websites are you most looking forward to in the new year? Let me know in the comments and If you favorite movie website didn't make the list tell me why you think it should have.
So long MP explorers!