MySpace Rolls Out ‘Black Carpet’ for Movies

NEW YORK MySpace is introducing a movie-marketing program that aims to harness word-of-mouth buzz for upcoming releases.

The social networking juggernaut has launched “The Black Carpet,” an opt-in group on the site that will alert MySpace users to preview screenings of new movies. In its first deal, MySpace is promoting News Corp. sibling 20th Century Fox’s Borat release by promoting Sept. 20 screenings in 25 cities in the U.S., Europe and Australia. About 7,500 MySpace members will get to see the movie in their local theaters.

Social media sites like MySpace, Friendster and YouTube are experimenting with advertising models. MySpace has leaned heavily on optional user engagement with brands. While they are running run-of-the-mill banner ads, executives there see a greater opportunity in user-initiated advertising models.

The goal of Black Carpet is to encourage MySpace users to build buzz for a movie before its release. In the case of Borat, which stars British comedian Ali G., the movie is not due to come out until Nov. 3.

“They’ll come back and start talking about the screening,” said Colin Digiario, svp of international corporate development. “It’s taking the viral marketing effect that occurs naturally and organically on MySpace and extending it out to the real world.”

The program is modeled on MySpace’s “Secret Shows” group, which gives MySpace members access to local shows. Over 250,000 members have signed up for the group, which has been used to promote shows by Gnarls Barkley and The Killers. Digiario said MySpace is working on deals with several movie studios for Black Carpet.

Entertainment advertisers, particularly movie studios, have taken to MySpace. Nearly every movie released now has a MySpace page, where fans can add it as a “friend.” Black Carpet will promote the featured film’s profiles. Borat‘s MySpace page already has 111,000 friends.