Why did 'The Simpsons Movie' take so long to make?

How do you publicize a film as secretive as 'The Simpsons'?

A 7-Eleven that's been converted into a Kwik-E-Mart to promote "The Simpsons Movie"
A 7-Eleven that's been converted into a Kwik-E-Mart to promote "The Simpsons Movie"
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Although the producers of "The Simpsons Movie" have gone the traditional route of releasing trailers of the film, the teasers are anything but typical. The trailers run anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds, and they don't give out a lot of information. In fact, what’s shown could have nothing to do with the movie. Groening told Entertainment Weekly, "there are some very misleading things in the trailer" [Source: Entertainment Weekly].

The producers have also become very creative and are doing cross-marketing ventures with other companies. In early 2007, 12 7-Eleven convenience stores were transformed into Kwik-E-Marts, the fictional convenience store featured in "The Simpsons." All of the stores -- 11 in the United States and one in Canada -- have been selling "Simpsons"- themed items, such as Squishees (Slurpees in collector’s cups), Buzz Cola, Krusty-O’s cereal and other related merchandise. And it seems to be working. These 7-Eleven stores have seen a huge increase in profits, with one store’s figures up by 30 percent since the promotion began [Source: The Hollywood Reporter]. Other companies are also jumping on board with action figures, video games and cell phones to add to the list of ever-growing "Simpsons" merchandise.

Big companies aren’t alone in wanting in on the action. FOX held a competition during the early months of 2007 to find a host city for the movie’s premiere in July. The only criteria -- the town’s name had to be Springfield, of course. To enter the contest, each city made a film explaining why it should host the premiere. Each film was featured on the USA Today Web site, and the winner was voted on by visitors to the site. On July 10, 2007, Twentieth Century Fox declared Springfield, Vt., the winner. The lucky town hosted the premier on July 21, a week before the nation-wide release [Source: USA Today].

Even with all of this promotion behind the film, it’s safe to say that the best marketing will come from word-of-mouth. "The Simpsons" TV series is shown in 70 countries around the world and has a loyal, if not cultish, following. There’s no doubt countless fans will line up at theaters on July 27, 2007, to see just what predicament Homer has gotten his family into this time. D’oh!

For more information on "The Simpsons," movie and related topics, check out the links below.

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  • Cindy Clark. “’The Simpsons Movie’ Hometown Premiere Contest.” USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/simpsons-contest.htm.
  • Dan Snierson. “Inside ‘The Simpsons Movie.’” Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20035330,00.html.
  • Gail Shiller. “D’oh! ‘Simpsons’ limits tie-in partners.” The Hollywood Partner. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3i5cd11e0c6fc24e90a897224f6f3c214d.
  • Michael Fleming. “Homer Going to Bat in ’07.” Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117940840.html?categoryid=14&cs=1.
  • Nathan Rabin. “An Interview with Matt Groening.” The A.V. Club. http://www.avclub.com/content/node/47771/3.
  • Sean Smith. “Homer’s Big-Screen Odyssey.” MSNBC.com. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18237345/site/newsweek/.
  • The Simpsons official site. http://www.simpsonsmove.com.