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Knowing how to play the market

After the first one cleaned up at the box office and audiences demanded screenings, ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ opens.

‘The Blair Witch Project’
(1999) How do you sell out theaters in 1999 with what is essentially a home video of some kids camping? Hit the still-naive Internet with some faux news footage suggesting that it’s a documentary.

‘Snakes on a Plane’

(2006) “I have had it with these motherf—ing snakes on this motherf—ing plane!” Instead of panic, New Line Cinema got in on the joke, and by the time their once under-the-radar B-movie hit theaters, it was a pop-culture phenomenon.

‘Cloverfield’
(2008) One of J.J. Abrams’ best tricks was “Slusho,” a Japanese soft drink website connected to “Cloverfield” that fans scoured for clues. Oh, and then there was that home video trailer that ended with the Statue of Liberty’s decapitated head.

‘Paranormal Activity’

(2009) The most successful horror films get off the ground by word of mouth — so the people who made “Paranormal Activity” on a shoestring budget decided to tape an audience’s horrified reaction during a screening. Following that, the ticket-buying public was asked to request a screening in their area. And they did.

‘District 9’
(2009) Peter Jackson’s name was tacked on, but the “Humans Only” billboards, stickers, and flyers that began popping up around the city is what first got people buzzing about Neill Blom-kamp’s smart sci-fi hit last year.

‘Super 8’
(2011) J.J. Abrams is again teasing his audience with a website that offers little details about his upcoming film. Abrams buffs figured out that in the trailer released earlier this year, the words “The scariest thing I ever saw” flash­ed across the screen. Plug www.scariestthingieversaw.com into your Web browser for hints that more information will be revealed at noon on May 15.

 
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