It’s the Movie Hit of the Summer: Why ‘The Kissing Booth’ Clicked

From the NY Times

It may be one of this summer’s most popular movies, but “The Kissing Booth” is not playing at a theater near you. Netflix released the teen rom-com on its streaming service with little fanfare in May, and it quickly swelled into a stealth sensation.

“Fans found it, liked it, and decided to pass it on to other people,” said Vince Marcello, the film’s writer and director. “You can run commercials, you can do all the conventional stuff, but none of it is as powerful as people on their Twitter feeds saying, ‘Oh my God, check this out, it gave me all the feels.’”

Netflix specializes in the soft sell, expecting viewers to stumble across its original films while scrolling through menus of suggestions. “We weren’t aggressively marketing the film,” said Ian Bricke, the service’s director of independent film. “But when people find a movie like this on Netflix, they feel like they’ve discovered it for themselves, and there’s a degree of ownership and investment that translates into word of mouth.”

This user-generated strategy seems fitting given the D.I.Y. origins of “The Kissing Booth.” In 2011, Beth Reekles, a 15-year-old in Wales, started posting chapters of the story on Wattpad, an online platform that allows amateur writers to read and comment on one another’s work.

“It was easier to share it with total strangers online than people I knew,” Ms. Reekles, now 23, said in an email. “I was — and still am — quite self-conscious about my writing.”

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Joel Courtney