University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventMedia Mutations 2013: Ephemeral Media: Time, Persistence, and Transience in Contemporary Screen Culture - University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Duration: 21 May 201322 May 2013


ConferenceMedia Mutations 2013: Ephemeral Media: Time, Persistence, and Transience in Contemporary Screen Culture


On its release in 1982 Disney’s sci-fi adventure TRON (Steven Lisberger) may have been considered a flop but over time it has entered into folk culture for a whole number of reasons: it was the first commercial film to include computer generated sequences; it presented one of the first cinematic mappings of cyberspace and perhaps most importantly, it lauded the nascent video game culture which was beginning to establish itself.
Thirty years on the film’s sequel TRON: Legacy (Joseph Kosinski) sought to capitalise on the cult reputation which had grown up around the original film. But whilst this film met a similar poor reception from critics, like its predecessor, it has already been acknowledged for other attributes. Most notably its transmedia promotional campaign Flynn Lives, designed by 42 Entertainment, which has won numerous awards for its innovative approach to film marketing.
Flynn Lives takes the form of a ‘campaign’ to search for the film’s central character Kevin Flynn who has mysteriously disappeared. The paratexual event was rolled out over a period of months before the film’s release creating what Genette referred to as a ‘threshold’ encounter arguably larger than the film itself.
This paper will investigate what operations and functions such a paratexts fulfils within the film franchise and, building on recent scholarship on franchise adaptation, identify what logics are deployed in it (Parody, 2011). The paper will consider:
• the temporal and circulatory regime of the paratext including its duration and patterns of transmission within the media’s circulatory networks(Grainge,2011)
• how the paratext provided a bridge ‘de-gapping’ the distance between the two films in the franchise as well as the generations of the film’s audience
• the harnessing of games culture’s ‘nostalgic attitude’ (Koivuven,2001)
• the mythologization of TRON by inserting it ‘Zelig’ style into the history of digital culture
Clearly paratextual film sites are no longer just static ‘destinations’ on the web. TRON has been adapted and reworked in this promotional campaign to generate a whole range of experiences beyond the film’s narrative. By the conclusion, a few days before the film’s theatrical release, it becomes clear that Flynn Lives was not just about TRON but about TRON audiences and that this points to the way in which the relationship between industry and audiences are being reconfigured in a digital film culture.
Kim Louise Walden, University of Hertfordshire 2013

ID: 2648100