Even the most dedicated movie fanboys tend to geek out at arm's length from Hollywood's business dealings. But for “Jurassic World,” Universal Pictures brought two of them into the fold.
In a scenario that could’ve provoked cease-and-desist letters, “Jurassic Park” loyalists Timothy Glover and Jack Anthony Ewins were instead recruited for the blockbuster's marketing efforts, after they created a fan website based on a rumored character.
Glover hatched the idea for a site centered on the fictional corporate owner of the Jurassic World theme park in early 2014. All they had to go on was the leaked name, "Patel." The rest of the material came from two decades of "Jurassic Park" lore and their own imaginations.
"I remember saying, 'Jack, I’ve got the craziest idea,'" Glover said.
Neither had a Hollywood background, nor were they professional Web designers.
Glover, 30, was a healthcare professional in Perth, Australia. Ewins was London movie theater worker, whose prior claim to fame was a "Jurassic Park" podcast and a popular YouTube video of his extensive merchandise collection.
Nonetheless, the Patel site fooled some in the "Jurassic Park" fan community into thinking it was a legitimate Universal Pictures marketing platform.
Then in April 2014, the Comcast-owned studio contacted Ewins and Glover, and asked them to build the official site for the fictional conglomerate behind Jurassic World, actually called Masrani Global.
They signed nondisclosure agreements and got their hands on an early version of the screenplay, photo stills and rough cuts of the trailers. In September, the company flew the two to Los Angeles to meet "Jurassic World" director Colin Trevorrow and producer Frank Marshall. They even attended the film's premiere.
"As a fan, this was like the ultimate goal," said Ewins, 26, who first saw "Jurassic Park" in theaters when he was 4 years old. "To become part of something like this is almost a dream scenario."
The Masrani Global site has all the trappings of a corporate online presence, with news releases, executive biographies and an investor relations page. It has generated about 2.5 million page views.
While the Masrani site is clearly a small part of the studio's campaign for the $150-million movie, Universal Pictures' digital marketing head Doug Neil said it was a lucky stroke to have superfans involved in the promotional efforts.
"We had always planned to build a theme park website, but what we hadn't explored was the back story, and the whole other aspect of who created this world," Neil said. "Having the superfans be a part of that helped expand that world."
Both Glover and Ewins are back on their day jobs, but working on other projects.
Whatever risks the studio took have paid off. “Jurassic World” grossed a record-breaking $524 million worldwide in its first weekend, and is expected to top the box-office charts again in its second.
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