Donnie Darko (2001) is a psychological thriller directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The story follows a teenager being lead to cause mischief by his imaginary friend Frank before the world ends, kinda (make sure you see the film).
With the release of the film came the website.
The website sets itself apart from standard film marketing as it creates a distinct audiovisual experience. It’s nature reflects that of the film and it serves as a quiz that unlocks further information about the film and it’s characters. With this the events and characters of the film transcend the cinematic universe and echo into reality through this online presence.
Thankfully we can still view the site through Hi-reS! Archive as the site is no longer being supported by its original host.
While this film is not the first to have online support, Donnie Darko was the first film I experienced that had multiple avenues in which I could explore the world created.
The site is a representation of the culture of convergence and an element of integrated marketing communications that focuses on the audience members experience and highlighting the film’s narrative possibilities.
Donnie Darko and it’s website have paved the way for filmmakers as they consider that narrative possibilities lie in marketing opportunities. Marketing and narrative storytelling don’t have to be separate, they can support each other, and ultimately enrich the audiences experience.
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