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'Super 8' teaming with Twitter for Thursday sneak preview push

X-Men: First Class, January Jones

Moviegoers eager to learn the “secret” of Star Trek director J.J. Abrams’ new film Super 8 can now learn it one day earlier. Paramount Pictures and Twitter are announcing today a unique partnership that will bring the sci-fi adventure to select theaters on Thursday, one day before the film’s June 10 wide release on 3,200 screens. The sneak peek push is part of Paramount’s marketing effort to ignite grass-roots buzz for the $50 million PG-13 production; the studio is hoping those who see the sneaks will Tweet about the experience using the hashtag #Super8Secret at Twitter.com/Super8Movie. Over 300 theaters – including 240 IMAX screens in the United States and Canada – will take part in what’s being called the “Tweet Movie Sneak Preview” program. Theater locations and local showtimes are available by clicking the “tickets” tab on the movie’s website. (We hear free popcorn comes with ticket purchases, too.)

Set in 1979, Super 8 concerns a group of movie-loving kids (all played by newcomers, save for Elle Fanning) who witness a train derailment one night while shooting their own low-fi zombie flick. Something monstrous escapes the train and begins terrorizing the kids’ small Ohio town. The movie was written and directed by Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg.

The sneak peek program comes amid reports that Super 8 may not meet lofty box office expectations. According to one tracking estimate, the movie is on pace to gross between $25 million and $30 million. Some consider that figure to be surprisingly low given Abrams’ history and Spielberg’s heavily-promoted involvement. However, Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore says the studio isn’t sweating the tracking and believes Super 8 has the potential to be a word-of-mouth hit with legs like Bridesmaids, which opened at $26 million and has continued to perform well in subsequent weekends despite stiff competition from franchise pics with bigger stars like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hangover 2.

“Some have criticized us for keeping certain elements of the movie under wraps,” says Moore of the studio’s marketing campaign, developed in collaboration with Abrams. Ads have positioned the movie as a mysterious creature feature/sci-fi thriller by withholding plot details as well as images of the monster. Moore believes Super 8 will be “discovered” as buzz grows. He adds that the movie doesn’t need to open as big as other summertime gambles, such as last year’s Inception, which had a much larger budget. “Fortunately, we are in a position where we can afford to take risks that allow us to protect the surprises of the movie,” says Moore.

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Originally posted June 8 2011 — 8:06 AM EDT

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