Posted on Friday, July 24th, 2009 by Devindra Hardawar
Last night I took part in an elaborate viral marketing event for Tron Legacy along with Katey Rich of Cinema Blend fame. What follows is an account of the night as best as I can recall. It started with a fairly large scavenger hunt, and ended with a visit to Flynn’s arcade. By the end of this event I was unsure of both where I was and what decade I was in, and it was clear that Disney was willing to spend truckloads of money to spread the word about Tron Legacy.
Check out the play-by-play, along with some photos and video of the event, after the break.
9:20p – We learn that the event is a scavenger hunt across downtown San Diego. The event coordinators equip us with a map, blacklight, and instructions to find “Flynn Lives” posters scattered across a several block radius. We’re told to use the blacklight to find hidden coordinates on the posters, which will lead to a certain location on the map.
[flv:http://media2.slashfilm.com/slashfilm/trailers/tron1.flv 400 300]
9:30p – We find our first poster, and are immediately struck by how communal the whole experience is. Various groups of scavengers are helping each other find the hidden numbers on the posters, and everyone seems to be having a good time.
[flv:http://media2.slashfilm.com/slashfilm/trailers/tron2.flv 400 300]
9:35p – A guy shouts something along the lines of “Geeks!” as he drives away. We like to think he ran off as soon as he realized he was vastly outnumbered by rabid Tron fans.
9:40p – We find our second poster, but we quickly realize our map is not looking the way it should.
9:45p – We run into a large group of scavenger hunters on a street corner sharing all of the poster coordinates with each other. We avoid the temptation, and pursue our last poster.
10:00p – After finding our last poster, it became clear that something went awry early on with our map making. We wave down another group of scavenger hunters and they pointed us to the corner of 6th and J. We head there, heads hung low, deeply ashamed of our failure.
10:15p – We find the crowd lined up outside a neon “Flynn’s” sign in front of a nondescript storefront. As we wait in the very back of the line, we catch a glimpse into the wonders that lie ahead: Flynn’s is an old school arcade. Every time the front door opens we feel a bit of magic.
[flv:http://media2.slashfilm.com/slashfilm/trailers/tron3.flv 400 300]
11:00p – We’re now about halfway through the line, and both not-so-secretly hoping this thing isn’t a complete waste of our lives. We catch wind that there may be a light cycle inside. Hopes are renewed.
11:15p – We finally make it in, and it feels like we’ve been transported to another time. The sounds of old school arcade machines and 80s music fills the air. I run into comedian Paul Scheer (who helped us review Death Race on the /Filmcast). I wish I could live here.
11:20p – Behind the Tron arcade machine, there’s an obvious gap in the wall meant for a “secret” door. This harkens back to the footage we saw from Tron Legacy on Thursday.
11:25p – Eventually, the trap door opens and we’re led inside a meandering hallway. Light cycle concept art lines the walls, and we’re pretty certain what we’re going to find at the end of this rabbit hole.
11:28p – We find the light cycle, and it is glorious. It’s life size, and looks simply gorgeous. Sadly, we didn’t get to touch it, otherwise I probably would have licked it. Here’s 30 seconds of hot light cycle rotating action:
[flv:http://media2.slashfilm.com/slashfilm/trailers/tron4.flv 400 300]
11:35p – Katey and I walk out with posters and t-shirts in hand. Thankfully, they took pity on our deformed maps, and gave us the swag despite our useless cartography skills.
Throughout the course of this goose chase, we were struck by the elaborate setup of the whole event. The resources needed to organize such a large scavenger hunt, secretly set up an old school arcade, and truck in a light cycle must have been tremendous in terms of time and money. We were also shocked that Disney was able to get a massive neon Flynn’s sign set up so close to Comic-Con without many people noticing before the event.
If anything, this event shows that Disney is willing to spend tons of money on this film. Given the footage we’ve seen, it has the potential to be a huge blockbuster. I’m just hoping it has more to offer than marketing hype.
Check out the gallery below for some more photos, and Katey’s coverage for her side of things.