Less is more isn't a motto you can apply to film marketing. In recent times, long before a film is released, footage is drip fed into the public sphere so haphazardly that the mishmash of TV spots, teasers and trailers form a Jackson Pollock style canvas of spoilers and plot details.
Adam Driver should know. After all, he plays the lead antagonist, Kylo Ren, in one of the biggest film franchises in the world, Star Wars. Making his debut in last year's rebooted sci-fi sensation, The Force Awakens, Driver will reprise his role in the next episode, Star Wars 8, a film that will be preceded by months of promotional material.
However, #AdamDriver recently stated that he'd "love it" if there were no trailer for #StarWars8, explaining that "the less people know, I feel like, the more exciting... the more of an event it is." He has a valid point, too. Modern marketing tactics are an exercise in excess, often giving away information that can detract from watching the final feature.
- Is This The Best 'Star Wars 8' Marketing Strategy Ever? (Spoiler Haters Will Love It)
- The 'Star Wars 8' Trailer May Not Be Released For Another 4 Months, Warns Daisy Ridley
- 'Star Wars 8' Theory May Solve The Mystery Behind Rey's Parentage: Is She Royalty?
Are Trailers Showing Too Much?
Star Wars is by no means alone. The sheer abundance of footage released before this year's #BatmanvSuperman caused fans to complain that they'd seen too much — in particular the money shot of Wonder Woman standing shoulder to shoulder with the titular superheroes. The uproar caused director Zack Snyder to respond by observantly claiming there was "a lot of movie that’s not in the trailer."
The follow up DCEU offering, #SuicideSquad, faced backlash for the opposite reason. The marketing campaign heavily pushed the film's comedy value, a tone that was at odds with David Ayer's original vision and allegedly became the motivation for reshoots. Further still, one disgruntled fan even took legal action, accusing the trailer of "false advertising" for including footage of Jared Leto's Joker that didn't make the final feature.
While too much footage isn't ideal, films like The Force Awakens still deftly avoided any major reveals. The same can't be said for all trailers, though. The preview for 2015's Terminator Genisys decided, bizarrely, to reveal the big twist that good guy John Connor (Jason Clarke) was actually a villain.
Even more bizarre was the decision to reveal in the Southpaw (2015) trailer that Billy Hope's (Jake Gyllenhaal) wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams) is shot and killed— a massive event that happens a third of the way into the movie. Or the #JurassicWorld trailer showing Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle alongside velociraptors, causing director Colin Trevorrow to openly state the film's marketing team had "shown far more of this movie than I would ever have wanted."
There are higher powers at play; separate marketing agencies are hired to create film trailers, often from early cuts of the film. In addition, only top-level directors — such as Nolan, Abrams, Fincher or Spielberg — have enough clout to have the final say on what footage is including in promotional material.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Matt Brubaker, president of theatrical at Trailer Park (the company who created the Southpaw trailer) explained that most focus groups reveal people are in favour of the less is less, more is more approach. He said:
“As much as people complain that trailers give away too much, nine times out of 10, the more of the plot you give away, the more interest you garner from the audiences. Audiences respond to the trailers with more of the movie.”
Will Star Wars 8 Reverse The Trend?
So, in a nutshell, we only have ourselves to blame. We complain, yet we scan the internet, speculate and breakdown every tidbit of information we are given in the build up to a film's release. Is it inherent to human nature that we can't help but peek? After all, we live in a society where a browser extension was released specifically to block #TheForceAwakens spoilers.
It's easy to forget that, fundamentally, a film is still a product of a capitalist market and needs to make money, which causes creativity and marketing to collide. But in today's consumption-happy world, Star Wars 8 could create a truly unique marketing campaign — silence.
Should Star Wars 8 go for the low-key approach?
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)