The Promotion of The Blair Witch Project part one

This analysis focuses on the reception of the film, The Blair Witch Project and offers an explanation to the extreme and wide ranging responses the work tended to elicit. This will allow an initial inquiry of the Blair Witch film, its marketing campaign, and its unprecedented commercial success that refrains from characterising this complete event as either the result of technical or promotional novelty. The story of The Blair Witch Project and its seemingly overnight success traces the developments in the U.S. film industry, particularly that of its marketing efforts. In an era that has become defined not only by the effects of ‘mass media’ but also by the interweaving of multiple media platforms, ‘films today seldom really stand alone’. In its first weekend of wide release, the film garnered almost $30 million, which according to estimates represented approximately one thousand times the amount spent in the production of the film. After only two months of theatrical release, The Blair Witch Project established itself as the highest grossing independent film of its time. Initial reaction to The Blair Witch Project’s success by reviewers and commentators alike attributed its popularity to ‘unique’ elements of its marketing and production strategy. Here we seek to analyse both The Blair Witch Project and its extraordinary popularity without reducing its achievement to stylistic and marketing ‘innovations’. The film’s critical and commercial successes can be discovered by analysing its creators’ masterful exploitation of ‘an archetypal paradigm’ for creating a mass media entertainment.

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