Joseph Farrell, a Hollywood market research professional, died yesterday at the age of 76. Few, if any, movie fans knew his name, but he did more to shape the modern theatergoing experience than any other member of the film industry.
Farrell created the movie trailer.
In a world where movies started on time, and future projects were woefully under-marketed…One man would stop at nothing to advertise upcoming films before the feature presentation.
Farrell worked for, then ran, the National Research Group, Hollywood’s biggest marketing consultancy. Not only did he come up with the notion of showing movie teasers before features, but he also introduced such industry staples as tracking and test screenings. Did you ever wonder how you can read about a film’s weekend box office take on a Saturday afternoon? That’s tracking, and Joseph Farrell innovated and utilized it before anyone else did.
Recently, Farrell got into production with a first-look deal at Disney, but his real legacy will be what he did on the marketing side of things. He helped shape the practices of the entire entertainment industry. And that’s pretty cool.