Over recent years, there's been a rise in the tendency of film marketing campaigns to overshare, to the extent that many of us (myself included) now bemoan that trailers, teasers and behind-the-scenes clips often "spoil" the enjoyment of the final product. Those within the industry, too, are clearly skeptical on the more-is-more approach; director Rian Johnson and actor Mark Hamill have advised fans to avoid marketing for their own movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
In an unusual move, in response to a Twitter user who claimed Star Wars fans have "officially been told too much," Johnson responded in agreement, Tweeting: "More stuff is coming, that's the nature of the beast. But I fully endorse avoiding everything you can from now till December!" That was then picked up by Hamill, who also reiterated he feels fans should avoid everything until The Last Jedi's release.
For a film with such worldwide appeal, the marketing campaign has been incredibly enigmatic, avoiding any key details of plot and holding back information on some key characters, including Benicio Del Toro's DJ and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). However, the closer we get to 15 December, the more information will trickle into the public realm — it's the "nature of the beast" after all. But are Johnson and Hamill right in advising fans close their eyes and cover their ears?
The Marketing For Star Wars Is Unique
There are a number of layers when it comes to #TheLastJedi's marketing, making it detached to the usual demands of Hollywood. Due to the high-profile of the franchise and the fictional universe it resides in, the collective mind of online fan communities can turn even the most innocuous looking promotion into genuine spoilers. Every minute detail is scrutinized, compared to an abundance of contextual material, and discussed. Consequently, the marketing team at #Disney have to be extra cautious with what they release.
It's a double-edged lightsaber, though — marketing has to be astutely planned, but Disney can confidently rely on a mammoth, dedicated fanbase. In many ways, there's nothing else like it, the hype surrounding the intergalactic series creates itself. Due to that luxury, the marketing campaign can rely on deliberately holding back and creating intrigue, because billions are already clued up on the ethos of the story.
Generally, modern movie marketing has burst that dam of intrigue, flooding audiences rather than drip-feeding them information. This year, many fans were disappointed with significant reveals in trailers for Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Spider-Man: Homecoming, among others. Johnson and Hamill aren't the first to speak out against their own product, either — speaking about the trailer for Jurassic World (2015), director Colin Trevorrow revealed the marketing team had "shown far more of this movie than I would ever have wanted."
We Love Spoilers, Really
But here's the thing; focus group studies reveal that trailers are more effective the more information they give away. Case in point, despite Trevorrow's annoyance, Jurassic World made $1.6 billion at the box office. Spider-Man: Homecoming has become Sony's biggest domestic hit since, well, Spider-Man 3 way back in 2007. Plus, from a psychological point of view, studies prove that spoilers don't actually ruin the enjoyment of a well-made film or TV show, so even with an abundance of information before release, The Last Jedi won't suffer too much.
In a saturated market, where audiences are becoming more and more selective with what they choose to watch, film campaigns need to overshare to attract audiences to watch. There are of course the anomalies that don't need to, #StarWars being one of them, being able to attract masses on brand power alone. Such is the power of the force, Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren, even claimed he'd "love it" if The Last Jedi didn't release a trailer.
Ultimately, everyone is different. Some love to engage, theorize, and dive head first into the fandom. Others prefer to stay away, to avoid any unnecessary information before heading into the theater. But here's the problem; for a film with as much appeal as The Last Jedi, it's almost impossible to avoid information altogether, so following Johnson's and Hamill's advice is no easy task.
Will you be avoiding The Last Jedi marketing material?