5. Funny People

The team behind Funny People pulled out all the stops when creating viral video content to promote the movie. Although the first major installment, a Funny or Die collaboration that featured Adam Sandler’s face on a little baby, wasn’t chock full of laughs, it did get the Internet talking. It also led to a fake NBC sitcom called Yo Teach!, which NBC graciously hosted on their website, as well as the amusing LaughYourDickOff.com, which features stand-up from Aziz Asnari’s character in the movie .

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4. District 9

The heart of the viral marketing campaign for D9 were the billboards and bench ads seen around major cities that essentially promoted the segregation of humans and aliens. Slogans like “Bus bench for humans only” not only created real world buzz, but spurred a social media discussion that was supplemented by a robust collection of pictures on the movie’s official Flickr account.

Additionally, positive Twitter sentiment about the movie is credited for sustained results at the box office. It pulled in over $14 million on opening night, but then an impressive 12.6 million the next day. Bruno, by contrast, was a movie that was widely panned on Twitter, pulled in $14 million opening night, and then a measly $8.7 million the next day.

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3. Watchmen

The Zack Snyder-directed Watchmen came with a massive, built-in audience of comic book lovers. But the viral marketing behind the movie expanded that audience with a series of clever, faux-news YouTube videos that racked up millions of views. Take, for example, this clip from a 1970 edition of NBS Nightly News, anchored by Ted Phillips, that features an extensive report on Dr. Manhattan. The video accumulated over 200,000 views just two days after it was uploaded.

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2. Terminator Salvation

Christian Bale’s on set tirade was perhaps one of the biggest social media and celebrity stories of the year. While the tirade didn’t exactly make Bale look like a saint, the idea that it was a stunt to drum up buzz for the movie is not without merit. After all, just a short while after the video hit the Internet, Terminator Salvation was trending on Twitter, and every blogger and their college roommate were gossiping about Bale. The tirade aside, Paramount released a rather novel, interactive Twitter game wherein players deciphered coded messages to fend off robots and rise in the rank of the Resistance army. Of course, while rising in the army, players were disseminating free Terminator promotion to their network of followers.

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1. Paranormal Activity

Produced for less than $15,000, this camcorder horror flick has already raked in over $108 million and is hailed as the most profitable movie of all time. The marketers behind the movie hosted screenings at select college campuses, then progressed to midnight screenings around the country, encouraging fans to “tweet their screams” and join the movie’s Facebook page. They pieced together shots of audiences screaming to create a truly a viral trailer, and to tip the film into national distribution, set up an Eventful.com competition wherein one million “demands” eventually brought the movie to a theater near you.

What was your favorite Hollywood social media success story of 2009? Please let us know in the comments.

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