I remember those pre-internet days of movie going (or at least when the internet was young and used primarily to ask a/s/l?) when one movie had one trailer. You saw that one trailer when you were waiting for another movie to start, and that was it. If you liked it, you tried your hardest to remember the name of it through the film that you were there to see, and if you didn’t, you forgot about it completely.
Those days are long gone (thankfully, or I wouldn’t be able to post here!), but as films start to have more and more trailers, posters and online discussions, I’m wondering if it's all a little too much.
Take Guardians of the Galaxy, for instance. We still have over a month to go until the release, and so far have seen three trailers, multiple posters, promo shots, tv spots and stills from filming. That’s a whole lot for a movie that hasn’t even come out yet, and this approach to promotion isn’t rare by any means.
It’s clear why the studios are choosing to create this much pre-movie goodness. Back in the day, there was no point in releasing more than one trailer, or multiple posters, because no one would see it. When no one sees it, it is that thing studios hate most; a waste of money. If your target audience is going to even a few movies a month, it’s probably all at the same cinema (so no point in multiple posters) and the chances are that even if they saw two different trailer variations in that time…well, it wouldn’t make a huge difference. But now that social media and online news sites are such a huge part of day to day life for most people under 50, it makes perfect sense to keep putting out new things because moviegoers will actually see them.
Still, is this multi-trailer marketing really a good thing? I’m about to try and break it down!
1. Constant promo keeps it in the forefront of people's minds. I can’t tell you how many times I used to see a trailer, think “ooh, that looks awesome!” and then forget all about it, only to see the DVD months later, or hear a friend talking about it and remember that I had wanted to go. That’s the problem with traditional trailers – if it was in front of a great movie, then by the end, it was lost to the mists of memory. I might think about seeing the film, but it’s not going to be at the top of my to-watch list until it appears in cinemas. Multiple trailers, however, allow studios to create one for the theaters (or even two, depending on how far in advance they want to advertise), then keep releasing internet versions, posters and stills so that by opening night, everyone is still aware that they want to go see it. Now.
2. Over promotion. The flip side of making sure people are constantly reminded about a movie can lead to them feeling bombarded. You know those TV or radio ads that are on so often that after a month you actually want to boycott the company, just so you don’t have to hear that jingle one. more. time? There can be a similar effect when the casual movie goer sees yet more news about a film on a weekly basis. It goes from excitement to wondering when this is going to be over with, and that is the opposite of what anyone wants.
3. Letting the audience see different aspects of the film. A common theme these days with two or three trailers is to use them for different purposes. The cinema trailer might be the standard teaser, while later trailers tell us more about characters (even one specific character) or focus more on plot. Multi-trailers can be used to reveal more and more as the release date looms, adding on to the first teaser by showing us progressively more detail. All of this builds the upcoming movie bit by bit, building excitement at the same time.
4. Leaving nothing left to see. Sometimes it feels like by the time the movie is actually released, there is nothing to surprise us! How many times have you seen a movie, only to leave thinking that the trailer already included all the best bits? Now multiply that by three trailers and a set of stills. With trailers traditionally being used to showcase at least some of the funniest lines or biggest explosions, a problem with too many trailers and promo pieces is that between them, they will include ALL the best bits, and the film will be left with less-than-stellar reviews.
5. It creates buzz and discussion. With many multi-trailers offering us only glimpses into the film, it piques interest for the hardcore fans (especially with superhero/comic book movies) and leads to almost endless discussion on forums and sites (such as this one!). This can be fantastic – every studio wants a huge buzz around their projects, and the more speculation that can be created, the more people will want to see it just to know if it happens the way they think it will. Trailers can be a jumping-off point for fan discussions, rather than just a preview of things to come.
6. Creating expectation that isn’t fulfilled. When dealing with comic book movies, one of the biggest issues that producers face is the fan leaving the theater complaining about all the things that the movie got “wrong”. I’ll admit to being a part of this – a lot of my articles involve my whining about the travesty that is Rogue. Multitrailers can sometimes feed into this, and that is never a good thing. When discussion is started, theory becomes rumor, and enough rumor leads to expectation. When there are too many rumors floating around because of all the “leaked” shots and “revealed” scenes, you are bound to disappoint a lot of fans who are holding on to their favorite theory.
At best, multiple trailers and posters can be fantastic – it creates buzz, it keeps people talking. The constant trickle of information is doled out at the right rate to make sure that fans are neither bored nor oversaturated, and keep the release date firm in their minds.
At worst, this does more harm than good. It drives away some of those who are on the fence between fans and casual movie goers, who get sick of seeing yet MORE promo for the same film. They can reveal too much, so that even fans are just seeing the movie for the sake of it, rather than being excited to see what happens (because they already know what happens). Worst of all, it can set up expectations that won’t be fulfilled, leading to the death knell of a movie – bad reviews from fans and critics alike.
As with most things, it comes down to skill. Are the director, the producer, and the marketing department skilled enough to recognize when the time is ripe to add a little more fuel to the fire, without burning their own house down?
What do you think – are you in favor of the multi-trailers?