Hollywood And The Trailer Conundrum

The final trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom dropped yesterday, and I’m still angry about how much of the story it gave away.

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It’s not a new phenomena for feature film trailers to give away too much of the story, and in essence spoil their own plot threads. But yesterday the third and final trailer for Fallen Kingdom proved to be perhaps the most egregious example of a film studio giving away far too much since The Amazing Spider-Man 2 actually showed the final shot of the movie in a trailer.

There’s an obvious argument for why studios do this, at the end of the day they’re a business and their job and the role of the marketing department is to get people into the cinema. But that shouldn’t come at the cost of the cinematic experience you take part in once you’re there.

In part in can perhaps be associated with the Social media age we’re currently living in. People want information in small portions and they want it straight away in quick news cycles. So hiding away the main story thread and focusing on tone and themes isn’t perhaps the best way to approach a trailer aimed at a mainstream/general audience. Instead your trailer needs to focus on “moments”; key shots and plot points that grab the attention and make you want to see the film.

The final Fallen Kingdom is littered with said moments, some of which are highly infuriating spoilers, so I won’t go into detail here. But what I can do is note that there are at least 5 key moments, plot points or mysteries spoiled over the course of a 2 and a half minute long trailer.

So the question has to be asked, can marketing departments focus on themes and tone and still get those tickets sold? Quite frankly, the answer is a resounding yes and anyone from the film industry who argues otherwise is either complacent or incapable of producing a unique marketing campaign.

John Krasinski’s recent horror-hit A Quiet Place is testament to the wonders a good marketing campaign can do. It didn’t spoil key moments of the film, only ever alluding to them, and relied on the quality of the film premise itself to sell the tickets. That could have failed spectacularly, especially for a film that doesn’t have any prior name value, but to everyone’s surprise it opened up to similar numbers to that of Ready Player One.

What’s all the more frustrating is that Fallen Kingdom nearly had it nailed. Whilst the first trailer failed to capture the buzz that Universal likely wanted, and received pretty negative reactions, the second trailer was widely praised. Honing in on the horror tones of the film and providing only the most basic of story-points, the second trailer told us exactly what the film was going to be and teased enough moments to grab our attention, all the while maintaining the secrecy that hotly anticipated films should try and keep.

What’s more concerning on the Fallen Kingdom front is that apart from that second trailer the entire marketing campaign feels like a B-Movie you would find on the SyFy channel. Alongside the most recent trailer we were treated to the following poster and I can safely say that it’s one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time.

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So enjoy marketing campaigns the likes of which A Quiet Place managed to produce, applaud studios when they manage to scramble together a trailer that tells you everything you need to know and nothing more and criticise when they give you too much. Talk with your money if you have to. Because until movie-goers start to show that marketing still matters in this social media age the steep slope that trailers find themselves on is only going to get worse.

Where does the Jurassic franchise go from here?

Unless you’ve been living in some self-imposed exile then you’ll be well aware that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is only a couple of months away, with the final trailer hitting the interwebs later today. But once this trilogy has come and gone, where does the Jurassic franchise go?

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There’s likely far more riding on Fallen Kingdom than most fans realise. Whether you liked the final product of Jurassic World or not, the one thing that cannot be debated is the fact that it made an absolutely huge amount of money for Universal. But, it had the good fortune of being a beloved franchise returning in a big way after a significant period of absence. Similar in vein to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World was always going to make a large amount of money at the box office, especially given Chris Pratt’s meteoric rise into the main stream following Marvel’s smash-hit Guardians of the Galaxy.

Fallen Kingdom doesn’t have that “big comeback” luxury. Yes it will to some extent ride the coat-tails of Jurassic World’s success with the general movie-going audience, but for a much larger degree it will need to stand on its own two feet and a box office disappointment could significantly alter the future of the franchise.

All we know about the third and final installment of the franchise, for now let’s take a shot in the dark and call it Jurassic World: Extinction, is that it’s releasing June 11 2021. But come June 12 2021, is that it? Are we done with the franchise?

In my own opinion there are a number of routes that the franchise could take, and as previously mentioned I think a lot of it will depend on the success of Fallen Kingdom at the box office.

The first and most likely route in my opinion is that the franchise takes an extended leave of absence, at least on the film front. Whilst it’s possible that Extinction ties together every loose end and leaves the story with a finality to it, what’s more likely is that it ties together enough story threads that should it be the last ever movie we can say we’re satisfied, but with enough openness that stories can still be told in the future.

If this is the route they choose to take then I won’t be complaining. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and with the announcement of prequel novel The Evolution of Claire by Tess Sharpe Universal have already shown that they’re not averse to building this universe with extended canon.

If I had to put money down on what I thought would happen, I’d say that Extinction will end in a fashion that doesn’t directly set up any plots, but leaves the world in a state whereby something could always be worked out in the future. Universal would then take a back seat and steer away from the movies, but focus on both extended canon novels, games (and possibly a Netflix/Amazon TV show?) as well as giving Jurassic Park at Universal Studios a complete overhaul into Jurassic World. The latter part might not be popular among fans of the franchise, but it’s fitting and probably the right thing to do in the long run in order to keep the franchise’s presence at the park relevant and modern.

This method would allow the franchise to take a breather, whilst keeping it relevant. Then in 5-10 years time they can return and start fresh with a new trilogy, taking the story in whatever direction they see fit. The key here would be not to rush anything, it’s the best route to take if this franchise wants to have a long-term future. We just have to hope that Universal could say no to the money of more films.

Of course there’s always the possibility that they carry on making feature films. Universal is at the end of the day a business and the best way for them to make money is to milk this franchise dry. Spin-off films, sequels and prequels could all be possibilities if that’s what the executives wanted.

Let’s just hope we live in the brightest timeline and not the darkest.

What do you think the future holds for the Jurassic franchise? Would you like to see a new trilogy start right after the Jurassic World trilogy finishes, or would you prefer a break in order for the franchise to come back feeling refreshed? Also let us know if you’re excited about The Evolution of Claire, it’s very likely that it’s a test run for extended canon content, so if you want more novels in the future make sure you go out and buy yourself a copy.

And as always, be sure to follow us on Twitter @WeAreNiche

Why Adam Chitwood Is Wrong About the Jurassic Franchise

 

Earlier today Adam Chitwood from Collider put together an article titled “‘Jurassic Park’ Is Not a Franchise“. As a massive fan of the franchise, I have a few things to say about his argument.

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Adam certainly raises good points during his discussion of the Jurassic franchise. The emphasis on the incredibly weak story of Jurassic Park 3 and the irony of Jurassic World becoming “the very thing the script tries to take down” are both relevant points.

But Adam’s core arguments, that no film in the franchise after Jurassic Park could capture the magic of seeing a dinosaur for the first time and that no film since has correctly balanced the adventure with the horror we felt in the first JP movie, for me do not hold enough weight to warrant the end of a franchise at the first port of call.

I spoke about it recently and Adam Chitwood echoed the sentiment that Jurassic Park will always be held on a pedestal for its contribution to the film industry, and in particular the revolution of CGI. That awe-inspiring feeling we get when we see the Brachiosaur for the very first time can emote real emotion in people. But expecting that feeling to last into future entries of a franchise is unfair on not only the people behind the film, but also on the audience.

Steven Spielberg would not have gone into the The Lost World: Jurassic Park anticipating, or even trying, to wow the audience in the same way that he had done previously. The film industry is much like a news cycle, it moves incredibly quickly, so quickly in the modern era that a trick will only work the once. Take Avatar for example, it was so successful not because it was telling a story that blew everything else out of the water, not because it was being held up as the epitome of film-making, but because of the revolutionary use of 3D effects. But the trick was short lived, and now 3D is a dying trend that saw its true success born and die alongside Avatar. James Cameron won’t go into the Avatar sequels expecting to bring in the same audiences that he did last time, the trick is done and he will need to rely on something new to turn his commitment to the franchise into a continued success story.

And that is where Adam’s arguments around the Jurassic franchise begin to fall apart in my eyes. He is too focused on what the original did right, and could not be repeated, as to why that meant it should have stayed as a one and done. The sole purpose of a sequel is not to repeat the success of its predecessor, but instead to build on it in new and creative ways. Whether that be through new filming techniques or through a new plot that builds on a pre-existing world and lore.

The Jurassic franchise is far from perfect. JP 3 is as poor as Adam makes it out to be, and only avid fans of the series would find positives there (I count myself among those people), and whilst certainly better than a lot of sequels The Lost World still has a number of faults. But poor execution does not expel the effort involved and it does not grant weight to the argument that a franchise should never have been attempted.

The Lost World itself had the continuation of John Hammond’s character arc from “capitalist to naturalist” as he sought to protect Site B from the outside world, a full circle story thread that isn’t given the credit that it deserves. JP3 is the bad egg of the bunch, and then we have Jurassic World, potentially the most divisive of the series. Adam points to this film as being the best example of why a franchise should never have been conceived, but I disagree. Jurassic World does exactly what a franchise (That isn’t built on pre-existing source material) should try to do, and that is build on what came before, but do something new that makes it stand out as its own film with its own identity. Jurassic World did that, not by wiping the slate clean and starting again, but by introducing new characters that a new generation of children could grow up loving, by showing us what it would be like if the Park had finally been opened on the same island as the original, and what happens when capitalist greed goes too far and the DNA is exploited for other means (A thread that will carry on in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).

One of Adam’s final comments states that should Fallen Kingdom director J.A.Bayona pull off the terror aspect of the franchise then “maybe we’ll get a decent enough film”. That is not only underselling a movie before it has even been released, but it is also patronizing to the director, cast and crew involved with the movie.

It’s no secret that thousands of people criticized Star Wars: The Last Jedi for being too different, for doing things that didn’t feel enough like the Star Wars of old. Adam Chitwood was not one of those people:

Yet here we are, less than a year later talking about why a franchise that tried to do things differently, that tried to take a step in a new direction to inspire a new generation of children (And hey, let’s be honest, make some money along the way) should never have existed. Did the Jurassic franchise live up to the excellence of the original? Not even close. Does that mean that it should never have been allowed the chance to try? Not at all.

If you do happen to read this Adam then I would love to talk about it further with you. But for the rest of you, let me know what you think about the Jurassic franchise, should it have stayed as a “one and done” or were there aspects that needed exploring in sequels?

The Looming Tragedy Of Avengers: Infinity War

We’re only a few weeks away from the cinematic experience of the year, Avengers: Infinity War, but with rumours abound that we’ll be losing a fan favourite hero, who exactly is on the chopping block?

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For a few years now it’s been long rumoured that we would be facing the death of at least one major Marvel Cinematic Universe character once Infinity War and Avengers 4 rolled around. Names as wide and varied as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, War Machine, Hawkeye and Vision have all had their names thrown out over the years as potential heroes who will bite the bullet. Contract agreements have led to speculation over some, whilst storyline threads have alluded to others.

Therefore as it stands the playing field is pretty open, there are a number of routes that Marvel could take to deliver an emotional gut punch during Infinity War and from the point of view of the fans that unpredictability is something to cherish. Too often do we go into superhero films with a solid idea of where the story will take us. Just last year DC tried in vein to dupe the audience into believing that Superman wouldn’t be coming back in Justice League, it was only once box office market numbers started to dwindle that they brought him into the marketing campaign. Even Marvel have suffered from a form of predictability, with the always present knowledge that Infinity War and Avengers 4 were around the corner we knew deep down that whilst watching films such as Thor Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that none of our heroes were yet in the firing line.

The gloves are off and it’s hard to argue that any of the original Avengers cast are for sure going to find themselves coming out these two films alive and well. Sure there are some who have a longevity that the others do not. Hulk is likely to stick around and with rumours abound of a Black Widow spin-off being in the works, as well as the easier route of having the more human characters retire to a farm somewhere, always being open.

So who do I think are the likely candidates to start pushing daisies?

Captain America

It was a recent profile on Chris Evans for the New York Times that prompted the creation of this article in the first place. In the profile it appears to confirm that Cap is sticking around until Avengers 4 and then packing his boots and leaving the franchise for good.

But for me that all feels a little too convenient so close to the release of Infinity War. Why would Marvel authorise the release of that news if it takes away any stakes for the character in a hotly anticipated film that’s only a few weeks away? Combining that with the knowledge that Evans’ original contract with Marvel finished with Infinity War, and that he supposedly signed on to an additional film, and with tinfoil hat on I’m starting to think that there’s a conspiracy afoot.

Whilst it could very well be true that Evans is sticking around for Avengers 4 and that is the end of his Marvel run, I’m now slightly more convinced that we could be looking at a shock exit for the character at the end of Infinity War.

Thor

It was recently made evident by the Russo Brothers that Infinity War is essentially the story of both Thanos and Thor, with the two characters taking up the most amount of screen time in the film.

Thanos having such a pivotal role was an obvious reveal, but I feel as though the Thor declaration was slightly more revealing plot-wise. As of yet Thor hasn’t had a massive presence in the trailers, popping up here and there, but with little dialogue and no clear direction for where his story in the film will take him. Which is interesting given that the film will likely start with the Asgardian clashing with Thanos before being flung into the far reaches of space where he will meet up with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

What this leads me to believe, is that Marvel are trying to play coy with us. We’re directly shown Loki approaching who we assume is Thanos on the captured Asgardian ship, with accompanying Asgardian bodies littering the ground. We presume this is Loki’s turn to Thanos’ side, or at the very least his surrender of the Tesseract. But I think there’s more to that scene, so it’s prediction time!

Loki has played a key role in Phases 1-3 of the MCU, you could even argue that he was the central villain that for a long time kept the whole thing anchored to a central point. So what better way is there for Thanos to be asserted as the new big-bad than to take out the person who came before him? I expect that Thor and Bruce Banner are nearby in the scene where Loki is handing over the Infinity Stone, and that as a final act he turns and uses its power to cast the pair away to safety, saving them and causing Thanos to have him killed at the hands of the Black Order. This will be how Thor ends up with the Guardians and Bruce ends up back on Earth.

This can then lead Thor on a revenge mission against Thanos, one that culminates with the God of Thunder falling in some heroic fashion that helps to save the rest of the Avengers or at the very least foil Thanos’ plan long enough for there to be a need for another part to this story in Avengers 4.

So in wrap up, I think that Infinity War will at the very least be the last time we see Captain America and Loki, with Thor either following them out in the same film or his death being held off for Avengers 4. Both Cap and Thor have had their time in the sun, they both have 3 solo films under their belt and their stories have little room to maneuver in Phase 4.

Iron Man is another obvious candidate, but I think that he will bow out in Avengers 4 rather than Infinity War, setting up a clean slate for the likes of Black Panther, Spider-Man and Dr. Strange to take over as the leaders in the MCU new age and allowing us to see an angry Tony Stark who is out for revenge following Cap’s death.