Old movies don't die, they live on as Facebook pages. Lionsgate is finding second life in some back titles, showing that a couple decades on, movies like Dirty Dancing still draw big crowds.
Dirty Dancing's Facebook fan page is now up to over 6.8 million "likes," adding about 150,000 per week. The 1987 movie is the No. 6 most popular movie site all time on Facebook, outpacing more modern franchises like Avatar and Sex and the City. It got to its huge fan base without the benefits of ads.
Lionsgate didn't start the page. It found a year ago that Dirty Dancing had quite a following in fan-created pages. Lionsgate then worked with Facebook to consolidate the pages into a single, official page that had a total of 700,000 fans.
The entertainment company is treading carefully with the fan base, doing only light promotions for a Dirty Dancing fitness DVD, said Anne Parducci, evp of family and home entertainment marketing at Lionsgate.
"We're trying to do it in a way so the page doesn't feel like a giant promotion," Parducci said. "We want this to be a fan base, not a direct marketing tool."
The page is so popular it has the odd distinction of owning a Guinness Book of World Records distinction of the Facebook post with the most comments. (Its Sept. 2010 update marking the anniversary of Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze's death garnered 10,260 comments.)
The page saw a surge when Swayze's costar Jennifer Grey made a run for the crown on Dancing with the Stars last month. The Dirty Dancing page was fully behind Grey, urging fans to vote for her. Grey ended up winning the combination.
The popularity of the page is helpful in subtle ways, such as its use as hard evidence of a passionate fan base for product extensions like a proposed TV show, Parducci said. "You have to prove to yourselves and the world there's a strong affinity there. It's real consumer data," she added.
Dirty Dancing is not the only old movie in the Lionsgate stable seeing surges on Facebook. Rambo (800,000), Apocalypse Now (200,000) and Reservoir Dogs (270,000) all have sizable fan bases that Lionsgate hopes to mobilize in the future.