- Sony Pictures Entertainment is promoting the July 2 release of "Spider Man: Far From Home" with a multichannel campaign that showcases the latest augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies. The movie studio on June 26 started letting users of image-messaging app Snapchat take pictures of characters from the superhero movie who show up in "Landmark lenses" that are tied to four famous buildings worldwide for the first time, Variety reported.
- The "Far From Home" lens appears at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, the Flatiron Building in New York, Buckingham Palace in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. When Snapchat users are near those landmarks, they can activate the lens to see movie villain Mysterio appear in a cloud of smoke before Spider-Man swings into the frame for a shareable picture. Sony on June 28 released a non-geotargeted lens for fans who can't visit the landmarks.
- In addition, Sony's red-carpet premiere gave attendees a chance to experience what it's like to be Spider-Man with a VR experience that launched on PlayStation VR, HTC Vine and Oculus Rift. Sony showcased the event on social media with a Facebook 360 camera, fashion camera, Twitter mirror and Spider-Man Instagram and Snapchat filters, per an announcement.
Sony's promotion for the latest Spider-Man movie highlights the growing role of interactive experiences in campaigns aiming to engage younger generations who have grown up on smartphones and videogames. Sony is the first company to implement Snapchat’s Landmark lens in a global campaign, fitting with the movie’s plot in overseas locations.
AR lenses continue to be a source of growth for Snapchat, indicating that their novelty hasn't worn off over the years. The company last year said about 70 million Snapchat users play with AR lenses on the app every day, and a report last month indicated that its baby-face and gender-swap lenses triggered a strong surge in app downloads. HBO in April sponsored a more limited geotargeted lens to promote "Game of Thrones," which was only available in New York.
Snapchat has become a key marketing tool for film studios because the app’s younger-skewing audience aligns well with a significant portion of moviegoers. Snapchat users make up 36% of U.S. moviegoers and 50% of ticket sales, per a study Snap commissioned last year from National Research Group (NRG). This isn't the first time a studio has targeted this demographic; Warner Bros. in March teamed up with Snapchat to create a voice-activated AR lens for the promotion of superhero movie "Shazam!" Universal Pictures in February partnered with Snapchat on the first sponsored facial-recognition lenses for animals to promote "The Secret Life of Pets 2," per Variety.
AR and VR technologies are transforming electronic entertainment from passive viewing into more immersive encounters with characters from popular movies and TV shows. Sony Pictures last year released the animated movie "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" with a mobile web AR experience that didn't require users to download an app, as well as an AR gaming app called "Ghostbusters World" that resembled the 2016 hit mobile scavenger hunt "Pokémon Go."