Sometimes when I have a particularly long blog post, I’ll take the time to turn it into a nice PDF and offer it as a download. Occasionally, I might even turn it into a SlideShare presentation or video.
Of course, I’ll reference that article in future posts, and continue to share it to social media, but that’s about the extent of my repurposing efforts.
Yet there’s so much more that I could be doing. And when I saw a trailer for a Disney movie which was coming out back in March, 2017, it struck me how much better Disney is at this repurposing thing than I am.
Beauty and the Beast
In 1991, Disney released their 30th animated film, Beauty and the Beast. Based on the French story by the same name, the film went on to win international acclaim and box office glory, amassing multiple awards and over $425 million revenue. (Thanks Wikipedia.)
However, not content to stop there, Disney continued to leverage the beloved film by…
- Turning the film into a Broadway Musical (1994)
- Releasing a television series, Sing Me a Story with Belle (1995)
- Releasing the followup video, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas(1997)
- Releasing the followup video, Belle’s Magical World (1998)
- Releasing an IMAX version in 2002
- Releasing a sing-a-long edition in 2010
- Releasing a 3D version in 2012
And that was just in the theaters. Disney also…
- Released the film to VHS in 1992 (and put it on moratorium in 1993)
- Released the full theatrical version in the fall of 1993
- Released Beauty and the Beast: Special Edition as a 2-disc DVD set in 2002 (and put it on moratorium in 2003)
- Re-released to DVD and Blu-ray in 2010 as a 3-disc pack containing 4 versions of the film; a 2-disc DVD set was released later that year
- Released a 5-disc set in 2011 that included the 3D and Digital versions (and put it on moratorium in 2012)
- Released a 25th anniversary Signature Edition in 2016
To that add all of the merchandising and integration into Disney’s theme parks, and you can see how the interest in Beauty and the Beast has been maintained and stoked over the years.
Beauty and the Beast Live Action 2017
And now we have what some would consider the ultimate in film repurposing: the remake.
Released in March 2017 is a completely live action version of the classic animated success.
We’ve talked before about how themes are just as important to music as they are content. As you watch that trailer, and listen to the music, from the very first note you can hear the same piano notes and chords.
Understand this: longtime fans of the animated film got goosebumps watching that trailer for the first time and hearing their favorite songs and themes come alive once more.
To say this was deliberate by Disney… well, let me just show you exactly how much Disney is banking on that love for the original film:
That’s the original trailer and the new film’s trailer side-by-side and, no surprise, they’re virtually identical.
How’s that for repurposing?
It was so successful Disney did it again with Aladdin and again with The Lion King.
The Beauty of Repurposing Beauty and the Beast
Review for a moment the timeline I shared above. There was a TV show and a couple “straight to video” movies, but all the rest are just new versions and adaptations of the original film content.
It’s as if Disney was taking notes from George Lucas and the original Star Wars trilogy.
Time and again we see that it’s the original material that audiences fell in love with, and that coming back to that “home base” is the most successful tactic.
None of the new material did half as well as the original film. In fact, after those first few efforts to capitalize on the excitement of the film received lackluster results, Disney never tried again. It was all IMAX and 3D versions from then on.
UPDATE 12/08/18: The 2017 Beauty and the Beast film grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing live-action musical film. So it did OK. 😉
It’s also interesting that Disney, more than any other production company, deliberately introduces scarcity into their product lines by putting a moratorium on films — essentially announcing that production of a film will cease and whatever’s left on the shelves is all the available inventory anyone will have for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, I can’t announce that this will be my last blog post ever and expect people to flock to my site to read it, but there are other tactics from Disney that you and I might emulate.
Repurposing Content Disney-style
Just like Belle’s Magical World, I can write followup blog posts to other articles that have achieved a lot of success. However, my expectations for these followup posts has to be minimal. Without exception, they have always performed worse than the original post.
However, it’s possible that we cannot and should not gauge the success of the tactic merely based on the followup’s performance.
Was there an impact on Beauty and the Beast sales when Belle’s Magical World was released? Did the new movie introduce or re-introduce the original film to new audiences? Was more Belle merchandise sold in stores?
Of course, Disney won’t give me access to that kind of data, but it’s reasonable to assume that if you write a followup article, it will bring new visibility to the original one. Just monitor your New Visitors report for those pieces of content in Google Analytics to see how much more interest it brings.
What has worked verifiably well for me in the past is to update old articles that have performed well. I will regularly:
- Review for new information or changes that need to be reflected in the copy.
- Review for changing affiliate relationships or SEO opportunities.
- Review for consistency of branding and messaging.
- Review for additional links to or from that article elsewhere in the site.
Simply make a note on the article that it’s been updated on such-and-such a date and put an annotation into your Google Analytics account so that you can see the impact those changes have on future traffic.
And of course, do a new round of blog promotion and social sharing to ensure the maximum visibility.
Where Disney is about to blow the barn doors off of repurposing is to release a completely new film that’s not a completely new film.
As a live action film, they’ve essentially had to start over and create a new film just like any other production house — except this film comes with the story, music and audience already in place.
I have no doubt that the 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast will have changes and differences from the original, but as we saw in the side-by-side comparison, the trailers at least are virtually identical, therefore, it’s likely that much of the rest of the film remains intact.
Publishing a new version of an old blog post is something I’ve only done once — and it worked extremely well, so I shouldn’t be so reticent to try it again.
I wrote an article about “How I Promote My New Blog Posts” back in 2013 and it was very popular. I regularly updated it with the latest techniques I was trying, as well as those that were no longer working, and that was fine for a few years.
But after a while, I realized that there was so much more I could pour into that post, and the years of updates and revisions had made it ungainly. I took the time to create an entirely new article that followed the same premise and format of the original, but in so much more depth. That was published as “How To Promote Blog Posts For Maximum Visibility” due to the fact that it came in at over 10,000 words and is essentially an online course in promoting blog posts.
While not every re-released article has to be done to that degree, it’s a technique that you and I should consider more often.
Continuous Promotion & Integration
Finally, there’s the continuous marketing that’s been going on ever since the first theatrical release by Disney. They hyped up the film as much as they could and then, when audiences fell in love with it, they kept the pressure on.
Too often, bloggers will fail to adequately promote a new blog post or, perhaps worse, forget to keep promoting a blog post when it’s obvious that it was a winner.
Keep in mind that, just like our blog posts, not every movie is a hit, not even every Disney movie. (Remember 2013’s The Lone Ranger? Or how about 2012’s John Carter? Both were box office flops.) And when a movie fails, unlike a blog post, it’s an extremely costly mistake in judgement.
So when you have a post that is clearly getting a lot of traction, either in search or on social, leverage that! Share it some more. Talk about it in other circles. Integrate it into your email marketing and other mediums where new audience members might be exposed to it.
And take the time to consider how else you might repurpose that particular piece of content. You just might have a future award-winning classic on your hands.