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.

The Superbowl Roundup

The Superbowl happened! For most people it’s an event in the calendar that highlights the culmination of the American Football season. But for us nerds, it’s a time for some sick trailers.

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The Superbowl has come and gone, and whilst the result of the game itself was historic, what was perhaps as equally jaw-dropping was the quality of the trailers which we were treated to throughout the night.

There were too many to publish individual blog posts about every single one, so instead I’m going to make “The Superbowl Roundup” a yearly feature whereby I go through and highlight the best of the bunch, the trailers which stood out to me for one reason or another.

First up let’s talk about the trailer that everyone was looking forward to the most (Arguably as it’s not actually a full trailer): Solo: A Star Wars Story

Whilst this is one of the shortest trailer in our Roundup, it’s probably the one which has people talking the most. An excellent PR move on Disney’s side, as by publishing a short teaser at the “Big Game” (NBC property) they have effectively used another network’s most watched product to say “come and watch Good Morning America (ABC property) for the full thing”.

The teaser itself didn’t offer a great deal, as was to be expected from a trailer of this size. But what it did offer looked promising. The visuals were superb, in particular the shot of the Star Destroyer deploying tie fighters in what looks like the Kessel run.

Hopefully we get significantly more Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo) in the full trailer, as if the marketing tries to hide him as much as possible then there will be massive worries among the fan-base that LucasFilm don’t have faith in him as Han. Which given the rumours around a dialect coach on set, is the last thing he needs going into the movie’s release.

Next up, was another shorter trailer: Avengers: Infinity War

The trailer offered little in the way of new content, but given the hype around this movie anything new is worthy of note. Giving us a high quality shot of Captain America’s brand new Wakanda-style shield, as well as our first footage of Nebula in action, the trailer served its purpose to keep Infinity War fresh in everyone’s minds and to keep the hype machine ticking along nicely.

Our first full trailer for the Roundup comes from the sixth installment in the Mission Impossible franchise: Mission Impossible: Fallout

A surprisingly dark tone for the first trailer of the movie sets us up with the concept that Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt) is on the run (Again) and 1. Having to atone for all his actions in previous films (Hence the “clever” name Fallout) and 2. Is having to go up against friends of old and enemies of new in Rebecca Ferguson and Henry Cavill respectively.

Cavill’s character appears to work well as a counter-weight to Cruise’s character, but we’ll need to see more interaction between the two to confirm that. Whilst it’s evident that the chemistry between Ferguson and Cruise is carrying over well into this next film in the franchise.

The trope of Ethan Hunt being disavowed and turned on by his own Government is becoming stale now, so hopefully the movie approaches it in an entirely different way, otherwise this movie runs the risk of being all too familiar before people have even stepped foot into the cinema.

Our penultimate note for the roundup comes in the form of what was more than likely the most surprising trailer from the Big Game: The Cloverfield Paradox

Perhaps not noteworthy for the content of the trailer itself, or indeed for the hype preceding it, but instead for the context it lends to the modern era of film-making. As we reported at the end of January, the fourth Cloverfield film was being rumoured to land on Netflix outside of the US. Little did we know that the 3rd installment, creeping ever closer to what we believed to be the rough release date in cinemas, was in fact only a few hours away from being made available on Netflix.

With the trailer noting that not only was The Cloverfield Paradox going to be releasing on Netflix rather than in cinemas, but in fact it was releasing right after the Superbowl. A surprising move for the confusing sci-fi series, but a welcome one.

Regardless of what reviews the film gets (Early reviews aren’t looking great) it’s certainly a statement of intent by Netflix and you can almost guarantee than more and more movies will follow a similar format of release.

Lastly let’s take a look at my favourite trailer from the Superbowl: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I am a massive fan of the Jurassic Park/World franchise, always have been and likely always will be. But even I had to admit that the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom did absolutely nothing for me, in fact I actively disliked it.

Fortunately, this trailer has completely turned my hype train around and I am fully on board going forward. The darker tone, the emphasis on practical effects and sheer sense of fear and dread that is laced throughout the trailer was incredibly appealing to me.

It’s promising to see that the Island rescue portion of the movie may end up only being perhaps the first third or half of the movie, as to me that was what put me off trailer 1. A volcano makes for a very bad antagonist, but another hybrid that leans more towards the Raptor gene than the T-rex? Sign me up.

J.A Bayona’s directing appears to be leaps and bounds ahead of Colin Trevorrow’s from the first Jurassic World film (Sorry Colin), so it’s safe to say that my expectations for the movie have been suitably raised. Let’s just hope that the actual film can live up to this trailer and that the story is strong enough to warrant this new trilogy.