13 Jun 2018

Using film to get young men into books

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:37 pm on 13 June 2018

In a world-first, a trailer for a book will play with a film trailer in New Zealand cinemas later this year.

The NZ Book Council are working to make reading relevant again, targetting the group least likely to read – males aged 16 to 25.

Only 44 percent of young men in this age group are "functionally literate" says New Zealand Book Council CE Jo Cribb.

"We've got a whole generation of boys who just think reading is not okay."

The idea to add a trailer for the JK Rowling book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to the film trailer for Fantastic Beasts 2 (due for release this November) came from interviews with a group of South Auckland high school students handpicked by teachers as "the most reluctant readers".

With their teachers out of the room, the boys told the interviewers what they really thought about reading.

"We asked them 'Who reads?' and they said 'Boys who are skinny, who have glasses, who have no friends'.

"We then asked them 'Hey, what would it take to get you guys reading?"

"Basically what they told us 'Give us a reason to read'."

The boys were mostly interested in wrestling, gaming, sports and… movies.

Conveniently, many of today's popular movies are based on books, Cribb says.

"Can you use all the hype around a movie to get people to read the book first?

"What if we made it really attractive to know about what happens in the movie before you even get there? So you're the first to know.

"What if you could find out really cool stuff about the characters? You can do that if you read the book before you go to the movie."

Cribb pitched the book trailer idea to JK Rowling's publisher Bloomsbury in London – and they liked it.

With Bloomsbury's support and the input of the test group, the NZ Book Council are currently creating the book trailer with animators who worked on Taika Waititi's 2017 hit Thor: Ragnorok.

It will be a test pilot and the idea could potentially go global, Cribb says.

"There are a lot of people watching."

From September onwards, the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book trailer will be linked to Fantastic Beasts 2 film trailer both online and in NZ cinemas.

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