Winner of the 2018 GSCA Achievement Award for Best Film Launch by a Theater, IMAX Victoria in the Royal BC Museum launched America's Musical Journey with a flash—a flash mob, that is.
outreach to local dance groups, music schools, stores and venues, this theater
created buzz by hosting four special opening screenings featuring an appearance
by the film’s star, Aloe Blacc, and a special off-site concert featuring Blacc,
where the only way to get tickets was by winning them in contests. Local dancegroups delighted audiences with a flash mob during these special screenings.  

The Campaign

For IMAX Victoria in the Royal BC Museum, the film America’s Musical Journey represented an
opportunity to engage not only traditional IMAX fans and the annual pass
membership base but also to reach further into the community and bring a new, younger
audience into the theatre by attracting music fans of all generations,
including the large contingent of pop music fans who are less likely to attend
a documentary. To do that, IMAX Victoria reached out to local dance groups,
partner museum Science World (Omnimax) in Vancouver, music schools, stores and
venues in general, and Aloe Blacc fans in particular.

A local dance group rehearses for the flash mob performances


To host opening events to create a buzz and build
excitement that would carry over into the full run of the film, utilizing a
high-profile guest, with a fun, lighthearted atmosphere reflecting the nature
of the film, and then continue the interest generated with an ongoing
advertising campaign and community outreach.


Special events both in the theatre and off-site, media
and community outreach, traditional advertising such as newspaper, radio,
television, outdoor, in-theatre, as well as organic social media and online


In conjunction with Science World in Vancouver, IMAX
Victoria had the exciting opportunity to bring Aloe Blacc, the featured performer
in America’s Musical Journey, to open
the film. To build awareness, excitement, and word of mouth, the theatre hosted
special opening screenings with Blacc and an acoustic concert at an
off-site venue. The theatre screenings were open to the general public as well
as to the theatre’s annual pass membership. Tickets to the concert could not be
purchased—they had to be won through a contest.

Blacc would appear at four screenings but
perform at only one, so the challenge became how to take full advantage of this
opportunity but also ensure each audience felt they had attended equal
events. Also key was to create a performance-like atmosphere at the opening
events where Blacc would not perform, one that would carry the excitement from
the theatre seats and create a buzz in the community.

Working with local dance groups, the theatre engaged a
volunteer flash mob to entertain at three screenings (where Blacc would appear
but not perform), which was a smashing success with both Blacc and the

Public Relations
IMAX Victoria sent a press release to promote the film and Blacc’s visit and personally followed up with a
call to each journalist contacted. They were are also able to host the media
reviewer who works with the daily newspaper, his wife, and their four children
to a private morning screening. The kids in particular loved the film, which
increased his enthusiasm.

Within the release and all materials, IMAX Victoria reinforced Blacc's off-site performance as being at a “secret location” that
would be revealed only to the winners. This minimized the chance that there would
be a rush of people trying to obtain entry, and it also made the ticket seem
even more valuable because of scarcity—people really wanted to get in, sometimes
just because they couldn’t. This also appealed to the contest partners as they
were part of the exclusivity.

The media outreach resulted in two television
interviews, three radio interviews, an article in all the regional papers and
two articles in the daily newspaper, which included a front-page, above-the-fold
lead and the full front-page entertainment section photo and interview.


In exchange for tickets, the daily newspaper, the
regional newspaper, and two radio stations agreed to run contesting.


An email campaign to over 15,000 was used to promote
the contest and the in-theatre screenings. Online advertising included Google
ad words and a new initiative wherein the theatre paid to run the film trailer
on Aloe Blacc’s Youtube channel. Additionally,
Expedia contributed in advertising on
their sites.

The advertising campaign also included online, social,
in-theatre, outdoor, bus, television and radio advertising.


The launch of America’s Musical Journey was an
unqualified success. More than 1,800 people attended the launch events and another 5,000 saw the film in the 9 days following. In addition to in-theatre
impressions, the on-going advertising campaign sits at 7,000,000 impressions.

Aloe Blacc performs at a private event where the only way to get tickets was through a contest.

Most Successful Part of the Campaign

The visit by Aloe Blacc
was even more successful than expected, but most surprising was the response to
the flash mob. The audience had no idea what was happening when the film ended,
the music started, and a lone dancer moved to the front of the theatre. As more
dancers began filtering in from one entrance and then another, the audience
started to realize what was happening, and many began dancing in their chairs.
As the dancers ran out the doors, Blacc came in and the excitement was palpable.
The flash mob brought a joy with their performance that spilled into the
audience and had them sharing the wonderful event and film with friends and
family. Click here to watch the flash mob performance.

Paul Wild and Marie Zirk from the IMAX Victoria in the Royal BC Museum with their 2018 GSCA Achievement Award for Best Film Launch by a Theater