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Searching for D-9.com in the archives: An archaeology of a film’s website

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Film marketing materials such as trailers and posters are regarded as ephemeral, but as they have migrated online, they have become increasingly pervasive and intriguing forms, colonizing the spaces before, between and beyond the film itself. The distinctions between promotion and content have become blurred, and arguably, some marketing campaigns have become as entertaining as the films they promote, which raises questions about the cultural value of these ephemera. In setting out to investigate what film websites contribute to the narrative ecology of the film, the award-winning promotional website for Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009) promised to be a good starting point. However, the research did not get off to an auspicious start because shortly after it began, the site disappeared. The article gives an account of a media archaeological excavation undertaken to search for D-9.com. A search led to encounters with a wide range of digital archives including the Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine, the Webby awards as well the ‘new’ generation of Web 2.0 archives such as blogs, YouTube and social media sites. In the light of this journey, the article will reflect on digital archives from what media theorist Wolfgang Ernst referred to as the ‘machine perspective’ and how the mechanisms of the digital archives condition the way we know things about the recent digital past. It will conclude by suggesting that these archival encounters in this project revealed as much about the nature of digital archives as online film marketing and promotion.
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Keywords: District 9; archive.org; film archives; film marketing; virtual archaeology; wayback machine

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Hertfordshire

Publication date: 01 April 2017

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