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Tired of Being Ordinary: Inside the Secret Website and Mysterious Game Hyping a Sundance Hit

The marketing team for "American Animals" has created a game that allows participants to play underground hackers who go on a real adventure.

American Animals Mysterious Game Flyer

American Animals Mysterious Game Flyer

The Orchard

The “American Animals” trailer asks an ominous question: “Are you in, or are you out?” It’s a tough one to answer when, like film’s main characters, you don’t know the first thing of what the question refers to, except that it promises to be dangerous and very exciting.

“American Animals” is the true story of how a group of friends plotted a brazen and elaborate heist of rare books valued at $10 million. After realizing how unimportant their adult suburban lives have becomes, four high school friends get together to try to break free from their ordinary existence.

After the film was bought by the Orchard and MoviePass Ventures out of Sundance, the distributor’s marketing team has taken its underlying message – how, in our modern lives, we all crave some out-of-the-ordinary fun and adventure – and launched a mysterious companion game. Requiring some (very) minor hacking and a little sleuth work, the contest is promising to lead players on an unusual adventure that will lead to some yet-to-be-announced prize associated with the film’s upcoming release on June 1.

A 25-second video that launched on nobodywantstobeordinary.com on Friday included a code; anyone who has unlocked it gained access to a web portal with additional clues. The portal also contains a video in which actor Fedor Steer, who plays Albert an international fence in the film, delivers a message directly into camera:

You are here because you no longer want to be ordinary, yes?
In the coming weeks I will dispatch my associates to five major US cities.
They are Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Miami and Austin.
I’ve hidden clues on this site that will help you find them.
And if you do — an extraordinary experience for a limited few awaits.
For those elsewhere, your time and effort will not be for naught. Trust me on this.
Unlock the clues, find your way, and prepare for something extraordinary.

Paul Davidson, the EVP for Film and TV at The Orchard, confirmed to IndieWire that game is part of the film’s marketing campaign and explained how it was secretively launch at SXSW.

After the movie’s SXSW premiere, the company disseminated thousands of posters around town, said Davidson. On the back of the poster was an email address, and “it was the same one from the movie the guys email to contact a ‘fence’ — the person they could sell the books to after they stole them,” Davidson said. “In the movie, they go through many steps to meet his colleague on a street corner to get the info on how to meet him.”

American Animals Myterious Game Flyers SXSW

Flyers for hung up at SXSW

The Orchard

At the same time, flyers (pictured above) went up all around SXSW and in the five key cities. When curious types emailed the address they were led to “nobodywantstobeordinary.com” which had a countdown clock. (When asked how many people wrote the address, Davidson declined to offer a specific figure, but said it was “thousands.”) On Friday, the countdown clock was replaced with the video that helped unlock the first set of clues and the “Fence” video to get people started playing the game.

Davidson said the game will mirror the movie in that there will be multiple steps, each of which must be unlocked or discovered, and that contestants are going to have to venture out into the world to play the game.

“Just as the characters in the narrative film are given the opportunity to [get] away from their computer screens and go out into the real world to further their story, so too will those who make it past the barriers presented to them in this experience,” said Davidson. ”There is an ultimate goal and a finite end to the puzzle and those who reach it will be rewarded — some more richly than others.”

If you want to try your hand at the game, click here.

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