Obviously 20th Century Fox must be excited about Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo because the studio has just decided to sneak it four weeks ahead of the film’s December 23rd bow. The nationwide sneaks of the holiday picture will take place on Saturday, November 26th during Thanksgiving Weekend, one of the busiest moviegoing times of the year as well as Christmas when there’s a lot of releases all at once. In a statement, Oren Aviv and Tony Sella, the studio’s marketing mavens, said: “Once in a while, we’re lucky enough to have a picture to which audiences of all kinds and all ages respond so strongly, that it demands a big and unexpected event. We Bought A Zoo is that kind of picture – and Thanksgiving is a great time to share it via this special very early preview.” The idea is to generate very early word of mouth, so necessary in these times of slumping box office. The studio claims test screenings of the film in both major cities and the heartland have produced “exceptional responses across wide-ranging demographics so the Studio is using one family holiday to prime the release for the next holiday”.
How Fox is going about the sneaks is different than usual, using social media outreach. The studio is partnering with the social media service TOUT for a “TOUT Takeover”. Attendees can TOUT their reviews of the film, and present their own experiences involving “20 Seconds of Courage” – playing off a key theme of the movie. One TOUT entry will win a trip for four, to the San Diego Zoo’s “Ultimate Zoo Experience.” The social media outreach will also include a live chat with Cameron Crowe following the film showings, and tie-ins with Twitter, Facebook, and so on. Crowe said in a statement, “I’m really excited about these sneaks. Holding previews so far ahead of our opening is a bold move – but that’s one of the many reasons I like it.” We Bought A Zoo stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, and Thomas Haden Church, and was co-written by Crowe with Aline Brosh McKenna, and produced with Julie Yorn and Rick Yorn.