Despite that oh-so-clever headline, no, I’m not going to talk about Harry Potter. Instead, I’d like to talk about how the over-abundance of clips, trailers, and behind-the-scenes videos are shaping the marketing of movies. And I’ll leave you to decide whether that’s a good thing.
It would be silly to talk on this topic without acknowledging “The Ultimate Super Preview” for the “Amazing Spider-Man” which was compiled and edited using only footage release prior to the movie’s actual release. It was 25 minutes that, if you had seen it beforehand, would have saved you the trouble of buying a ticket. No hyperbolic speak intended, every major plot point and even a considerable amount of exposition and characterization was revealed. It could be argued that seeing the 2-hour, 33-minute film would be a waste compared to the 25-minute preview that skipped all the unimportant details. They basically gave the movie away for free.
Now, this certainly does not happen for every movie. Of course not. And now most movie secrets are heavily guarded just like the 5 minutes of “Avengers: Infinity War” footage only a select few were able to see and the rest of us are left with a million different iterations of the viewing. In this film’s case, we are pretty much just left to our imaginations. We are left to speculate so much from so little.
On one hand, we saw everything in a trailer. On the other, we weren’t even allowed to see the trailer at all. Two perfect examples, in my opinion. But first, let’s try to understand why showing too much content in trailers can be perceived as either good or bad.
Obviously, not every consumer wants to see everything spoiled and vice versa. But sometimes a movie quite literally has to stand out in the crowd of movies. Do you know how many movies are coming out this week? Just from a quick glance at Fandango, there are 23. Probably more. Not to mention that sometimes just having an amazing cast doesn’t cut it. The trailers/clips serve the purpose of showing us that movie is going to be worth a trip to the theater.
Conversely, showing too much can ruin the movie for some consumers, especially when spoiling a twist. Ironically enough, and I really can’t believe I’m saying this, sometimes showing that twist can mean the difference between seeing a movie and not. That spoiled twist can potentially let you know the plot is not half-assed and has some interesting things going on, things that are going somewhere. And if you can’t be excited or surprised by the twist, you can at least still be surprised by the aftermath.
But really, I understand the aversion to trailers and such. And even more than just movies. I wouldn’t want to be spoiled that they somehow find a way to save Terra in Kingdom Hearts. Hell no. It’s really the fans that really really care who are more sensitive to the spoilers. But is it okay to sacrifice the covenant between the die-hard fans and the filmmakers by showing everyone a major spoiler just for publicity’s sake?
In the case of “Amazing Spider-Man,” I can honestly see why they showed so much beforehand. Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man” was still fresh in our minds. A reboot so suddenly would of course undergo much inspection and criticism. So it seemed natural that they really had to sell the movie in that sense. Though, they actually may have over-sold it.
But for the new Avengers movie, there are so many preliminary movies, some that still haven’t come out yet, that are integral to the film. To show too much of the Avengers could possibly spoil the others as well. Not to mention they’ve been building up to this for several years now so spoiling something now would just be self-defeating at this point.
The purpose of trailers is to market the movie. Within reason, I think it’s okay to spoil some of the movie for the sake of marketing. Especially when the film sorely needs it. On the other hand, depending on how much I care, it might ruin it for me. It’s no surprise that trailers, clips, and behind-the-scenes footage can be good and bad. However, it’s also extremely subjective. It’s weird balance between emotion and logic, I think, and it’s really left up to us to decide whether it hurt or helped.