A flashy home page with high-resolution pictures of actors, interesting tidbits about the movie, attractive contests, photo collages and exclusive trailers… The official websites of Tamil movies are shedding their garb of dreary online pages that merely list cast and crew, to emerge as an interesting promotional tool for the movies.

With the demand on rise, many web designing companies working on films have sprung up in the city. Marketing companies are offering website designing as part of their package to allure producers. They are also working out ways to please the directors who are insistent on making the websites for their movies distinctive.

“They [directors] demand websites that show strong links to the story line. From colours to the shape of navigation bars, every thing must match closely with the story of the movie,” explains D. Karthik, who works for Indiaglitz that develops websites for Tamil movies.

For instance, films with a strong theme of violence would predominantly have a red or black backdrop, while a breezy love story would go for pastel, soothing shades.

The trend of considering websites as an effective way to promote films began when actors such as Kamal Hassan and directors such as Shankar and Gautam Menon launched stylish websites for their movies. “The film industry began to look at websites seriously when a few made news for their creative templates. Now websites have become as mandatory as a trailer,” he says.

These online promotional pages are considered to be more important for films that enter international film festivals. Makers of movies such as Achamundu Achamundu, which have been screened in many film festivals, make sure the websites do their bit of publicity.

“My film got its maximum publicity through its website. Indians across the world got to know about it and comments still keep pouring in,” says Arun Vaidyanathan, its director. The life span of the websites varies from one year to five years, depending on the directors’ choice. Some of the best websites of films have been scrapped as the movies faded out of the audience’s minds to make way for newer ones.

The websites come into place soon after the photo shoot gets over and receive continuous updates from then on, says R.R. Pranesh, Head (Operations), Entertainment Marketing and Communication, which has designed websites for movies such as Abiyum Naanum and Yaavarum Nalam.

“With Tamil audiences spread across the world, the best way to promote the movie is online. While social networking sites and blogs leave room for the audience to voice their feedback, an official website attracts people as it offers authentic, exclusive information,” he says.

Mr. Vaidyanathan finds the trend encouraging and says websites are emerging as the most effective promotional tool. “The film industry is heading towards a more sophisticated way of publicising the movies. We will soon see web-screening of films. ”

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