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There's a saying that seems to come to mind any time a Hollywood studio announces it's taking a literary fad and turning it into a series of presumably lucrative film adaptations: "Never judge a good book by its movie." You've seen it emblazoned on t-shirts and posted all over the internet. At its core, it's meant to draw attention to the horrific lack of detail that somehow finds its way into the adaptation process. With the staggering amount of films being adapted from various literary origins and genres these days, it's a sentiment that finds itself more often repeated than in past years, with no end in sight.
Which is a good thing, as these differences are also the key marketing tactic used for films like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and this week's The Maze Runner. All have built-in fan bases that already are primed and ready to go to the movies and see their favorite moments played out across the silver screen. All have read the books relevant to the entry making its way into theaters. The fans of the original source material are the easiest, and the strongest, audience members to appeal to. But what about the audience members who are about to become fans after seeing the film? Surely there's a way to appeal to those people who end up leaving the theater hungry for more?
As luck would have it, there's one perfect promotional tactic that studios have yet to implement when it comes to newly minted fans of a hot literary franchise: providing a copy of the book, or one of its sequels, when you buy a ticket to the film or a copy of the Blu Ray.
Here's an example. Let's say you go to see The Maze Runner this weekend, and you end up really, really enjoying it. You enjoy it so much, you want to not only find out how different James Dashner's original novel is, you also want to see what happens in the next book, The Scorch Trials. Normally, you'd run right out to a book store at the next available moment you have, hopefully find a copy of the book everyone else seems to have developed an overnight obsession with, and read it on your own time.
That process is how it used to go. And while it works, there's too many variables that insert time between your impulse and the satisfaction of that impulse. With an e-book copy or a voucher for the book added into the ticket cost (possibly with a discount taken off of the book's face value,) movie studios can cover all of their bases by using a strategy that's diametrically opposed to the Fandango vouchers you'll see attached to books like Divergent before their next film comes out. Now, you'll be engaging audiences with your brand before and after the film, enriching and cementing the brand in a quicker than normal fashion.
As for fans of the books who already have copies of each text you could think of, publishers could create added bonus material to be included along with the package. Fans might already own The Maze Runner and all of its sequels, but access to teaser material for the next film, or even lost/deleted material from the books, would be something to keep established fans in the game as well.
Offering book vouchers with a movie ticket is just like offering movie vouchers with a book purchase. The only difference is with the right material, you'd be keeping fans of the series involved, as well as fostering the connections that new fans have just made in the theater moments before. Should this idea work, it could also be applied to comic book adaptations, meaning you can read the inspiration for The Avengers: Age Of Ultron as soon as you get home from watching it in the theater. The possibilities are endless, but the endgame is the same: a more connected, more informed audience.
The Maze Runner hits theaters on September 19th, so be sure to find your nearest Barnes and Noble, just in case the story works on you.