Monday, June 30, 2008

The Long Tail of the Italian Spiderman

One of the more exciting things about the Internet is how it expands a potential audience (and market) from the local to the international. In pre-Internet days, only companies with the resources for extensive marketing could hope to break into other markets.

These days, almost everyone can. Especially if what they're offering is some kind of data -- audio, video, text. Take the case of the "Italian Spiderman."

This five-minute video was created as a project by some Australian film students at Flinders University. "Italian Spiderman" pays homage to Italian action movies of the late 1960's and early 1970's.

In the pre-Internet world, the video would have been shown once or twice at Flinders University, and that would have been it. And perhaps a few others that the director, Dario Russo, would have sent the video to as a demo.

Instead, the "Italian Spiderman" was placed online -- and it found an audience.

The example above I pulled from YouTube, where it's been viewed almost two million times. It also has a MySpace page (250,000 views) and is available at many other sites. So now this student film has turned into something else.

Russo and his company Alrugo Entertainment have starting filming the movie in installments, and posting them weekly YouTube. And the soundtrack is now available for sale.

Now the really remarkable part of the story is that "Italian Spiderman" only appeals to a very small niche audience. Most of the people I've talked to who've seen "Italian Spiderman" don't like it (many didn't make it through the first few seconds). The few who did appreciate it were fans of Italian late 1960's cinema, such as spaghetti westerns or spy movies.

How well does "Italian Spiderman" nail its subject? As you can see from the trailer for the real 1968 Italian spy film "Danger: Diabolik," they come very close. The quality of the film stock looks right, the gestures are right, the closeups on the eyes are right, -- even the Euro-groovy soundtrack is right.

Statistically, people who are familiar with late 1960's Italian genre cinema make up a small part of film fandom. And if "Italian Spiderman" had only been shown in Australia, it would have faded into obscurity. But because Alrugo Entertainment could make "Italian Spiderman" available internationally, they've been able to connect with enough of that niche audience to start monetizing their creation.

I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't offer a DVD of the film once they post all the installments.

I'd buy it.

- Ralph

Day 16 of the WJMA Web Watch.

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