5 films with Brilliantly Designed Websites
The best websites take visitors on a journey that will leave them wanting more. So set aside an hour or three and explore these five brilliantly designed film websites.
In todays digital world we want to be wowed and amazed before we even reach the cinema, whether this detracts from the film overall is for another discussion. Either way it has become the norm for films to have an accompanying website - sometimes this is done well and complements the pre and post cinema experience and in others, well let's just say they could do with a license to thrill. Now pleasantries have been exchanged, we can get onto my favourite bit, talking about these fascinating websites!
A big summer blockbuster with loads of action, giant robots and time travel nonsense I wasn't entirely sure what to expect in terms of a website. I was rather pleased to come across a crisp and slick advertisement of Trask industries, the creators of the film's antagonists; the Sentinels. It is effective because it knows its target audience well and makes you believe mutants are a real threat with its clinical description of identifying mutants through specific traits. There are also various images throughout the site that echo WW2 propaganda, which adds to the sense of growing unease and threat presented by mutants.
The site also has some interactive elements that allow you to apply to a range of job positions at Trask Industries such as the ominous "Containment Specialist". Only after you’ve answered a range of questions to check you don't have a propensity to sprout claws from your knuckles; I'm still waiting to hear back about my application.
Release date: 22nd May 2014
Facebook Likes: 18,529
Peak visits: 35,000
Ever since the first Jurassic Park came to the big screen, we have all been wondering what a fully functioning park would have looked like. And now you can explore the park in all of its glory through this website.
There are countless details that make the idea of a dinosaur theme park realistic and appealing. From an interactive map listing all the attractions and utilities, to the next T Rex feeding time and listing park capacity. The site rewarded repeated viewings in the week's building up to the film's release more sections became available to explore and more dinosaurs were listed as inhabiting the park. Even after the film's release the website continued to be updated to reflect the incidents that happened throughout the film. In particular the change in the webcams went from displaying calm crowds to some going offline or people running in terror. It's worth checking out Winston's Restaurant cam and you'll see what I mean.
Release date: 29th May 2015
Facebook likes: 4725
Peak visits: 300,000
For a website that has been live since 1998, it is still incredibly effective. The website builds upon the legend of the Blair Witch and the film's found-footage; theme by using various artifacts from the film. You can explore the background of the Blair Witch through the mythology timeline and read up on the individual film makers who got lost, and even download some of the grainy audio/video files that were found.
The website’s minimalist approach reflects the internet's infancy which adds to the mystery of film, and no matter how many times I pore over the material found on the website it does nothing to calm my nerves! And yet I still find myself reading through Heather’s mottled diary with curious fascination. I'm not sure whether it's the illegible scrawl that I squint my eyes at trying to read or the increasingly panicked writing style but it certainly enhances the film's frightening reputation. It also serves as a less traumatic way to experience the Blair Witch Project without developing a severe case of Hylophobia and refusing to leave the house at night.
Release date: 22nd October 1999
Facebook likes: 533
Peak visits: 45,000
If ever there was a website that could be mistaken for a game then this would be it! Whether you liked the Hobbit or not this website makes up for any misgivings. This is barely recognisable as a website with its sweeping views of Middle Earth and an in-depth journey experience that lets you explore the world through the eyes of the heroes of middle earth by selecting which character to explore at each juncture of the story. Each of the heroes' journeys are embellished with quotes and video clips from the films which will satisfy Tolkienite and new fans to the franchise alike.
Alternatively if you are one less for story but titillated by topography there is a quick selection to view descriptions of the landmarks and towns throughout Middle Earth, from Rivendell to The Black Gate. Each of these locations features a battle aspect (which reappear in the journey mode also), where you can play out action scenes from the films with your own controllable character.
Considering the breadth of locations and characters in Middle Earth, each visit to the website makes for a unique experience that is both informative and enjoyable. If you don't fancy fighting through a 20+ hour movie marathon, but need to get your Middle Earth fix then this website will serve you well indeed.
Release date: 12th December 2014
Facebook likes: 198,057
Peak visits: 1,100,000
Where the Hobbit takes you on a physical journey across the land, The Life of Pi instead follows more of a spiritual one. The film transports you to unfamiliar places and eye catching moments. So what kind of website can do this? I introduce you to Parallax web design constructed using HTML5, you can read more about it on our blog here.
The site features numerous moving and overlaying components that echo the film’s rich visuals and outstanding set pieces. You don’t so much as explore the website as experience the effort and thought processes that went required to make the film a reality. These range from the indistinguishable CGI of the tiger Richard Parker to details of constructing the world's largest wave pool machine that was required to film the multitude of ocean scenes. The site's cascading elements make for an intriguing experience that will capture your attention until you can scroll no more!
Release date: 28th September 2012
Facebook likes: 3618
Peak visits: 170,000
As you will have gathered from the previous 5 websites, what makes them so effective is that they allow you to become immersed in the mythology and background of the film's universe and some even let you play a part with interactive features. The director of Life of Pi describes his experience of the film, which also applies when considering what makes a brilliant website design; "The Journey for me was one of faith, of destiny - it's a journey for us and the viewer".
*Special Mention must go out to Space Jam with its kaleidoscopic colours and incomprehensible planets that would appeal to the children of the 90's. An exemplar of what can be done when you know your target audience. Long may it live in our memories!