IU Cinema Press Day
To build anticipation for the opening of the IU Cinema, director Jon Vickers scheduled an advance Press Day event for regional and national film writers. Because the cinema boasts one of the most sophisticated digital projection systems available, that technology was the highlight of the event. To put digital projection into historical context, IU Cinema invited Grover Crisp, senior vice president of asset management, film restoration, and digital mastering at Sony Entertainment, to talk about the art of digital restoration. His lecture was followed by the cinema's first-ever screening: the newly restored The Bridge on the River Kwai, shown for the first time in the exact aspect ratio in which it had been filmed.
IU Communications worked with IU Cinema to create an attention-getting invitation for the event, build a press kit, distribute it online to press contacts, and create a gift bag for each attendee.
The competitive landscape was littered with high-budget swag. The creative team took a long look at the sort of big-budget promotional items movie critics receive from studios: action figures, t-shirts, free DVDs, promotional toys. We quickly realized a simple invitation card would be unlikely to make an impact. So we decided to create a low-cost but dimensional mail package that might stand out on a crowded desk of tchotchkes.
Bloomington, Indiana, is a long way from Hollywood, Park City, or Cannes. Despite the sophistication of the IU Cinema’s projection technology, convincing critics and reporters to travel to Bloomington, Indiana, isn't an easy sell. We also had a small budget and a limited timeline.
Guests had two primary incentives to attend this event. First, it offered the opportunity to see state-of-the-art digital projection technology in action. Second, it gave film buffs the chance to see a beloved cinematic classic restored to its original glory.
To tell the story of IU Cinema's unique projection capabilities, including the only 4k digital projection system ever installed in a university theatre, we created a press kit with in-depth information about the system and how few opportunities audiences have to see this level of crispness. Our news and media team prepared an extensive press kit for reporters highlighting key stories about the cinema—its historic building, its state-of-the-art projection technology, its connection with Indiana University’s historic film archives, and its role in advancing the scholarly study of film at Indiana University.
To appeal to the movie buff inside every film writer, we designed a military-themed invitation with the look of a military dossier. Recipients were promised, "You've never seen action like this before," alluding both to the restored film and the cinema's projection capabilities. Inside, to provide a little low-cost swag, we included two custom-made dog tags that served as tickets to the screening. The paper invitation was followed by an HTML invitation that mirrored the look of the original piece, with the inclusion of mini-newsletters showcasing key stories from the press kit.
At the event itself, we handed out khaki-colored cloth gift bags to participants featuring the IU Cinema's logo and tagline. Inside were printed copies of the press kit, packaged in the same dossier style as the invitations.
The reviews are in. Press Day was a success. A statewide AP Wire story was picked up by several different state and regional outlets, including the Indianapolis Star, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, IndianapolisNews.net, WLXY Louisville, Indiana Public Media (distributed to statewide radio), WTHR-Channel 13 Indianapolis, and FOX59 Indianapolis. IU Cinema was also featured in a number of online publications in the weeks leading up to its opening:
- Theatre Historical Society Readerboard wrote a piece that details the renovation process and the Cinema's direction and vision
- The Arthouse Convergence, in participation with Sundance Institute, featured the IU Cinema in its weekly spotlight
- The Chronicle of Higher Education mentioned the Cinema's opening press conference
- The Chicago Tribune ran a piece on director Jon Vickers's role and vision of the new cinema
- The Los Angeles Times reported on the IU Cinema's controversial Kinsey Institute Collection
- Wired.com ran a short piece on one contributor's personal experience visiting IU Cinema
- Turner Classic Movies featured IU Cinema in its Movie Morlocks blog
Development of Press Day materials took approximately two months, with a total production budget of $7,640, including creative and printing costs.
The Press Day campaign received a Silver Award in the Special Program Publications Packages category of the 2011 CASE Circle of Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
It also received high praise from IU Cinema director Jon Vickers. He told the team, “...EVERYTHING that you have done for us is superb! It is almost embarrassing to have such elegant materials.”