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From the 14th Annual Shorty Awards

#HereForFreeGuy Preview Screening Twitter Wall

Audience Honor in Call to Action

Entered in Call to Action, Twitter

About this entry

One by one theatres across the world shut down during the peak of the pandemic, depriving movie-goers of the ideal cinematic experience and putting into question the release date of many 2020 and 2021’s most anticipated films. Among them was the action adventure filled comedy, Free Guy, directed by Shawn Levy and starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, and Taika Waititi. Free Guy was postponed over a year later from its premier date of July 3, 2020, to August 13, 2021. Though the fans remained excited to see the film, there was some conversation about whether they were ready to be back in theaters and if seeing a movie on the big screen would still have the same magical experience it once held for them.  

As this film marked Disney’s first theatrical release since the pandemic hit, Disney wanted to reward a group of lucky fans with a one-of-a-kind exclusive screening experience to increase positive word of mouth to drive fans back to theaters. A week before the film release, Disney invited a special group of excited fans to an exclusive preview screening at 10 theatres across the US. But it didn’t end there – invited attendees were given a fan engagement experience unlike any other, amplifying the buzz for attendees by showcasing them and their pre-screening Tweets across the massive theaters’ screens leading up to the main event, and creating a truly unique and memorable fan exclusive event focused around fan content and excitement.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

Apart from producing a well-made film, there are a few key strategies that can ultimately make or break the success of a film. One important factor being to strategically promote the film prior to the release date. In addition to the cast of Free Guy (including star Ryan Reynolds) promoting the film via their personal socials leading up to the release, Disney sought out to take promotion one step further. Teaming up with Twitter and Telescope, Disney strategized to enhance film promotion and create buzz by engaging fans directly into the mix (because viewers are the ultimate critics after all) and put them in the forefront to spread the word about this new film 9 days prior to the release.

On August 4, 2021, we put a twist to a traditional preview screening by not only setting up exclusive screenings across 10 different theatres in the US but implementing a real-time interactive strategy prior to the main screening to engage attendees, create buzz around the film, and give fans their ’15 minutes of fame’.

Normally, movie-goers are presented with film trailers as they wait for the main show to begin. In replacement of these previews, the exclusive Free Guy preview screening opened with a cascading Fan Social Wall presented on the big screen across all 10 participating theaters. This wasn’t just a wall of random Tweets – it was a custom and curated Free Guy screening event wall that cascaded down the movie screen featuring the invited attendees’ personal Tweets of all things Free Guy along with a countdown clock to the preview screening. All attendees were encouraged to participate via a few simple steps:

Fans visualized in-person their own Tweets featured on the big screen, encouraging other attendees to join in on the conversation to also achieve their ’15 minutes of fame’. And as more and more Tweets rolled in from viewers across the US, the more it drove buzz and organic fan promotion of the highly anticipated film, Free Guy, across the Twitterverse before ever hitting theatres publicly.

In addition, Disney further drove fan excitement and gave them a reason to Tweet by having the director (Shawn Levy) and cast (Joe Keery) surprise fans at the NYC screening prior to the film beginning. Attendees and fans on Twitter were also treated to a video of the broader cast reacting to fan Tweets about the film - encouraging more people to join the conversation.


A unique engagement and promotion strategy was successfully implemented to drive buzz for the film Free Guy. As it was many attendees’ first time back in the theatre since the pandemic hit, we created a memorable and exciting experience for fans to celebrate the release of Free Guy while celebrating the return to cinemas nationwide.  Additionally, the unique fan experience and social sharing further promoted the upcoming release and further stoked the fan enthusiasm for the film across Twitter.

During the 30-minute social wall countdown’s appearance, 112 unique pieces of content were pushed and showcased on the Free Guy Social Wall.  Fans across the 10 theaters saw their content pushed in real-time, often creating a second unique post of the fan excitedly pointing to their Tweet or showcasing the social wall itself where they were featured, creating a direct call to action and reward cycle for the in-person fans. In return, fans continued to Tweet with #HereForFreeGuy post activation day, further enhancing buzz and promotion beyond the 30-minute initial call to action before the screening.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Telescope Inc., Disney, Twitter