Even before The Blair Witch Project hit theaters in 1999, it had already made a major impact on the history of horror films. Its production company, Haxan, is credited with essentially inventing viral marketing, and though the film didn't invent the found footage genre, it inspired countless knock-offs, homages, and imitations to follow.
The Blair Witch Project - directed by friends Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez - follows three college filmmakers to Burkittsville, MD, in their attempt to document the local legend of the Blair Witch. The students, Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard (all played by actors of the same names), search for clues about the myth, but end up getting lost in the woods and hunted by unseen forces. According to the movie's opening title card, the final cut is made from reels of lost film discovered by police after the trio went missing in 1994.
Despite lackluster reviews from critics and some filmgoers, the movie grossed over $248 million on a $60,000 budget. Arguably, the greatest legacy of The Blair Witch Project isn't the impact it had on horror movies, but on movie marketing for decades to come. The key to the film's success was the way it blurred the line between fiction and fact, convincing people that what they saw might very well be real.
Here's a look at some of the best and most audacious promotional stunts and viral marketing tactics that were used to make The Blair Witch Project such a groundbreaking hit.
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Blairwitch.com Provided A Detailed Mythos And History To The Blair Witch Mystery
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Haxan Films Released A Documentary About The Disappearances
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They Changed The Actors' IMDb Profiles To Reflect Their PassingPhoto: Artisan Entertainment
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The Actors Were Told To Go Into Hiding Before The Movie Came OutPhoto: Artisan Entertainment