Marketing is a huge part of a new movie’s budget, and in the past the promotors had to rely on billboard advertising and TV and cinema advertising. These days it is unusual if a movie does not have its own dedicated official website as part of the marketing campaign, and these sites generally offer movie trailers and teasers, a synopsis and a list of cast and crew members.
Sometimes there are poster or wallpaper downloads, and even games and activities can be included, particularly on the sites for children’s films. The production of a website probably uses a minimal part of the marketing budget, but is no doubt one of the best marketing tools, so it is important that the site is well designed in all aspects. And official movie sites have not been left behind in keeping up with current trends – you can find a lot of trends utilized in these sites. Here is a selection of 20 official websites of movies that have already been released, or will be soon – we are looking at films released in late 2014 or early 2015.
Official Movie Websites
The Boy Next Door
When this site opens, you will see a very short trailer of the film, followed by the option to purchase tickets through two outlets, then a promotional grid of images of some TV episodes of Unbroken and Game of Thrones – this pop-up can be closed down to reveal the actual site for The Boy Next Door. The complete hero area – the white section with headline text and the blue navigation menu – remains static as you scroll down the page.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘Shortly after her divorce, a woman falls for a younger man who just moved in across the street, though their torrid affair takes an obsessive, dangerous turn.’ The film stars Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman.
Quite unusually, this site does not open with the movie trailer playing. A quite retro/vintage design sets the scene for this comedy film.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘Juggling angry Russians, the British Mi5, and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai races to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain a code that leads to lost Nazi gold.’ Starring Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow.
As you would probably expect, this Disney movie’s home page is an amazing illustration. The trailer video is playing in the center, and when you land on this page you are at the bottom of the page – the only reason I can think of for that is that the navigation menu is placed at the bottom.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘Goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.’ Starring the voices of Evan Rachel Wood and Elijah Kelley.
This landing page starts with a pop up video trailer of the movie. When you close that pop up, the site is presented in very light, pastel colors with a dreamy tone.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘Claire becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group while grappling with her own, very raw personal tragedy.’ Starring Jennifer Aniston and Adriana Barraza.
The landing page of this site has a slide show of very, very short clips from the film with a patterned transparency over each. They use a ‘hamburger’ menu button that drops the menu down over the map on the left side of the page.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘A chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.’ Starring David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo.
Into The Woods
Another Disney film, but not animated in this case, so the site is presented very differently from the Strange Magic site. The home page has panels of images of each of the main characters in the film that expand on mouseover, revealing the actor’s name, a quote and the character’s name. They are:
- Meryl Streep – ‘It’s not what I wish. It’s what you wish.’ – The Witch
- Emily Blunt – ‘All will come to a happy end.’ – The Baker’s Wife
- James Corden – ‘If we’re going to get through this we have to stick together.’ – The Baker
- Anna Kendrick – ‘If you loved me, why would you stray?’ – Cinderella
- Chris Pine – ‘I was raised to be charming, not sincere.’ – The Prince
- Mackenzie Mauzy – ‘I am no longer a child, I wish to see the world.’ – Rapunzel
- Lilla Crawford – ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have strayed from the path.’ – Little Red
- Johnny Depp – ‘What’s your rush? You’re missing all the flowers.’ – The Wolf
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.’
The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies
This site has a slideshow of 3 different shots from the film, all of which are downloadable as posters. The navigation menu is in white text over the images on the left side of the screen. If you are really into The Hobbit movies, you can even create your own wallpaper from this site. You are offered a choice of desktop wallpaper, mobile wallpaper, profile icon, Facebook cover, Twitter skin or Pinterest image, then you scroll the image into the provided frame as required. You are then offered the option of adding the logo or not, then you can download the result.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness.’ Starring Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman.
Unusually, this site does not offer any video trailers. A beautiful, slightly animated large image greets you on the landing page, with a navigation menu across the top and social media links at the bottom. This is a slow loading and slow page-changing site.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘In the future, a young destitute human woman gets targeted for assassination by the Queen of the Universe, and begins her destiny to finish the Queen’s reign.’ Starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
As we have come to expect, this site opens with a video of short clips from the film that you can close down. There is a navigation menu at the top of the page and three call-to-action ghost buttons towards the bottom of the page.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘A veteran secret agent takes a young upstart under his wing.’ Starring Colin Firth and Taron Egerton.
The Last Five Years
This is a very differently presented movie site with huge, bright orange social media buttons at the top of the page, and a pieced-together image with the title of the film and the tagline: ‘There are two sides to every love story’. It is a simple, one-page site with the opening date and a video trailer with call-to-action buttons in bright yellow and orange to ‘Join Our Newsletter’ and ‘Subscribe”.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘Based on the musical, a struggling actress and her novelist lover each illustrate the struggle and deconstruction of their love affair.’ Starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan.
Although this film was released last year, the site is still available. With a slightly animated illustration, grungy-style navigation bar and call-to-action buttons and a font very similar to that used for The Nightmare Before Christmas – many years ago!
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘A young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator. Based on the children’s novel ‘Here Be Monsters’ by Alan Snow.’ Starring the voices of Ben Kingsley and Jared Harris.
This site opens showing the video trailer which you can close via the word ‘close’ at the top of the screen. The menu is very discreet and placed at the top left of the screen with just one short line beside it. Hovering over the word reveals the drop-down menu in very small text, dark gray until you place the cursor over the category when it becomes black.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.’ Starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller.
This firm favorite story among children has been a long time in the re-make! The site is clearly aimed toward children and uses large blocks of quite bright colors as you scroll down the site, there are widescreen images and posters available for download.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘A young Peruvian bear travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family, who offer him a temporary haven.’ Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and the voice of Ben Wishaw.
Night at the Museum – Secret of the Tomb
The third in the Night at the Museum series of films, and the last film featuring the late Robin Williams. The site includes some games and activities for children, as well as widescreen image downloads.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘Larry spans the globe, uniting favorite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever.’ Starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.
The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 1
This site uses a large hero area with a full width image and gold text, and the rest of the page, as you scroll down is presented in a blog-style format with white body area on a black background. For a movie site, this is really quite minimal and certainly easy to find whatever you may be looking for.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.’ Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson.
The Theory of Everything
This is a very understated design for an official movie site. A montage of two images on a white background with some press comments at the top right, the stars, the title, the tagline, the navigation menu and finally the trailers offered in a small slide show, and that’s it!
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘The relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife.’ Starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.
The Woman in Black – Angel of Death
The site representing this horror film has a suitably spooky full screen image on the landing page. The woman on the stairs has a bride shadow that is immediately unsettling. As you scroll down the site is presented in a grid-style layout in mainly black and white.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ’40 years after the first haunting at Eel Marsh House, a group of children evacuated from WWII London arrive, awakening the house’s darkest inhabitant.’ Starring Helen McCrory and Jeremy Irvine.
This space-age movie site has a large image slide show on the landing page using stills from the film. There is the navigation menu on the left of the screen that includes a selection of wallpaper for different devices and FB covers for download, a ‘Solar System Creator’, ‘Endurance Space Explorer’, ‘Patch Creator’ and ‘Test Flight’.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival.’ Starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway.
Exodus – Gods and Kings
This site uses a full screen slide show of short clips from the movie on the landing page. There is a ghost call-to-action button in the center of the screen and a triangular transparency at the bottom of the image with links to the trailer and the soundtrack. This site offers a selection of poster downloads.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.’ Starring Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton.
This site has a navigation menu on the left side that is white text on a black background, and a grid layout of thumbnail images of stills from the movie on the rest of the page. These images are not links, but they all have a purple transparency overlay. You are offered to create your top five (of anything) and share it.
Here is the short synopsis from IMDb: ‘A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancée talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.’ Starring Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson.
These are just a selection of official movie sites. Some current or forthcoming movies didn’t make it into this list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if they weren’t different or amazingly stunning, and secondly and very frustratingly, some official movie sites are not available to me in English as I am based in Spain – with a Spanish IP address – it is surprising in this day and age that some sites don’t offer a choice of language – especially when the original site is the one I wish to view!
Have you ever used movie sites for inspiration? Do you think they are inspirational for website design in other markets? Please share your thoughts and links with us in the section below.