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“Cold Weather” Scavenger Hunt Finds a New Audience

"Cold Weather" Scavenger Hunt Finds a New Audience

Stylish raindrop graphics dominate the poster for Aaron Katz’s new film, “Cold Weather,” which opened at IFC Center February 4. The one-sheet also served as an apt advertisement for the neighborhood’s February 5 “Cold Weather” scavenger hunt, in which 130 people made their way through the Greenwich Village wet on a series of clue-finding missions designed by scavenger-hunt sightseeing company Stray Boots. For the winner, Katz would present a pair of IFC Center Cineaste Membership Passes.

“I would give (Brigade Marketing founder) Adam Kersh most of the credit. It was his idea,” said Ryan Werner, VP marketing for IFC Entertainment. “We liked the idea because it had a DIY aesthetic to it and felt very much in the spirit of the movie and a way to get people involved besides going to see the movie, besides going to a promo screening.”

“Cold Weather,” which premiered at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival, tells the story of Doug (Cris Lankenau), a college dropout who moves back to Portland to live with his sister, Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn). The siblings bond as they attempt to find Doug’s missing ex-girlfriend. Using the skills he learned from Sherlock Holmes novels, Doug, Gail and their friend Carlos (Raul Castillo) embark on a hunt of their own to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Danielle Thomson, a self-proclaimed veteran of New York City scavenger hunts, said the hunt drew her to the film. “I had seen the film listed as being currently in theaters, and had even taken a look at the summary, but it was not until the film was linked to this scavenger hunt that I fully engaged with the notion that it was a mystery,” she said. “In all honesty, this event was so much more effective in bringing me to see a film that I would otherwise not have been engaged with.”

Scavenger Jennifer Drake, who’s also the fiancee of Spout blogger Christopher Campbell, said she appreciated that the marketing stunt felt like it had a connection to the film. “I enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t just about running all over the city and, say, snagging a ‘We Are Happy To Serve You’ coffee cup or being photographed wearing a Statue of Liberty foam hat. The riddle-solving and code-cracking made it challenging and entertaining. I’d have to admit, however, that the rainy, frigid weather was no fun. I’d rather participate on a beautiful, sunny day.”

Werner noted that marketing strategies such as this one work best on a case by case by case basis. “We also had a screening at the Rerun Theater where brothers and sisters if they came together in the spirit of the movie could get half-price drinks” he said. “You take movies one by one and try to kind of tailor them to the movie.”

It’s hard to measure how the cold, rainy afternoon of running around Greenwich Village impacted the film’s box office, which earned a solid $15,100 in its opening weekend at a single New York City screen. However, the Saturday evening audience included many still clutching damp city maps and wet gloves.

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