Disney's Marketing for Wreck-It Ralph Employs Transmedia Storytelling: A Case Study in Expanding a Film's Storyworld Across Multiple Platforms

On February 11th, 2013, Mike Vogel published a great post to his "this is transmedia" blog about the online rollout of Disney's Wreck-It Ralph.

In particular, Mike Vogel's post explores the apps that support the February 12th, 2013 release of Wreck-It Ralph for HD download or streaming.

As anyone with a Netflix account knows, the roll-out of home video versions of theatrical films is evolving.

Wreck-It Ralph - another hit for Disney animation in theaters in late 2012 - is just the latest example of how the studios are adapting to keep up with new consumer behaviors.

It took the studios a while, but now even microbudget 21st Century indie filmmakers can learn from how the big legacy studios are thinking about the new paradigms...

What Disney is doing with Wreck-It Ralph - a film that scored with both kids and adults with a jolt of giddy gaming nostalgia when it first hit theaters in November 2012 - is both marketing for the home video versions and an extension of a storyworld in creative and engaging ways.

Wreck-It Ralph also marks the first time that Disney (following a trend pioneered by Fox with Prometheus?) will offer customers the opportunity to purchase - for download or streaming - a new film several weeks before the release of the DVD.

Yes, the studio is still planning a traditional home video release for Wreck-It Ralph: On March 5th, 2013 a four disc Blu-ray 3D combo set of Wreck-It Ralph - priced at $39.99 - will become available, along with the 2-disc Blu-ray - $31.99 - and more traditional DVD and standard def video on-demand versions.

What's different this time is that Wreck-It Ralph fans can also purchase the film for download or streaming weeks before everyone else can legally obtain a home version: The online version of Wreck-It Ralph is available today - February 12th, 2013 - and to build awareness for this February 12th ONLINE-ONLY release of Wreck-It Ralph, Disney has also decided to use transmedia storytelling techniques to offer additional content that fans can download from the app stores.

One of the Wreck-It Ralph apps (first released in November 2012 to coincide with the release of the theatrical film) allows fans to game-hop between different arcade games - Fix-It Felix Jr., Hero’s Duty, Sweet Climber, and Turbo Time - all based on the film.

A goal of Disney's strategy with their Wreck-It Ralph apps, of course, is to keep fans engaged with the characters of the story, building and retaining the audience for the version of the film that became available today on mobile devices and computers, almost a month before the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the film. But (if Mike Vogel's review is correct) some of the apps that Disney is using as promotion have their own appeal - and may also represent an independent revenue source.

What should be of particular interest to indie filmmakers is that, in addition to serving as marketing for the online and DVD versions of the traditional 120 minute film, the apps also extend the storyworld of the cinematic Wreck-It Ralph into free and paid gaming - as well as into interactive storybooks and comics.

Thanks to Fiona Milburn for the link

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