ByRyan Murphy, writer at
Ryan Murphy

We all love movies. And for many of us who frequent websites like these, we somewhat obsess over many of them. We discuss them back and forth for years before we ever see them, debating the various possibilities, whether or not it will be any good, and what will be good or bad about it. And yet, when opening night finally comes, the actual picture itself is only lasts a mere two hours onscreen. I’d like to put forth a new theory about the hyped up films we watch and wait for, that the experience is more than just the two hours we spend in the theater.

The joy is in the build-up.

The years we spend in anticipation, free to ruminate on the various possibilities and the potential quality, is in and of itself a tremendously enjoyable aspect of the process. Trailer reviewers like Mr. Sunday, spend their careers discussing what we’ve seen so far, while many other fans get huge amounts of internet traffic for their “fan theories” about what will ultimately be revealed.

This process goes through many stages. What follows is a scientific breakdown of this years-long enterprise.

Stage 1

It begins with the movie being announced. Immediately the internet is alive with buzzing. (A new Star Wars film! Batman vs. Superman! Captain America 3 is going to be Civil War! Indiana Jones 5….?) Already people are forming theories and ideas in their own head about how the movie will play out, what it will feature, what it will be, or what it should be. But for what can seem like a long time, this is all we have to go on.

Then people start to get hired. A director (J.J. Abrams to helm Star Wars!). Then the stars (Ben Affleck is the new Batman! [boy that was a doozy]). The studio begins to reveal more information, such as characters that will be featured (Black Panther in Civil War!) Much of this information is preceded by weeks or months of rumors before ever becoming official. Many times they’re right, sometimes they’re dead wrong (Remember Bryan Cranston as Lex Luthor?). Throughout the entire process, this is what will make it so enjoyable: The gradual release of information.

Stage 2

Then, filming begins. Blurry photographs snapped by sleuth-like fans begin popping up all over the web. Eventually, official production stills make their way online. The studio begins to reveal more bits of information. We begin an official synopsis, character details are divulged, and more is revealed in interviews.

Amidst all this, we talk. We talk to each other about our different ideas, about what we think this or that image means or what the filmmakers are hinting at with this or that tweet. There are rumors galore from sources claiming to have behind-the-scenes info (Is Doomsday in it? Will such-and-such die?) And, of course, throughout all this, we debate about the quality. (Will it be any good? Will it suck? Will Ben Affleck really be a good Batman? And that one guy who’s always saying Shut up, you haven’t seen it yet, you can’t judge it till it comes out! What’s wrong with all you people?)

Stage 3

Then there’s the big one: The Trailer. Or rather, the trailers. The systemic release of multiple previews, each showing a bit more material, becomes a process in and of itself. There’s the teaser, then trailer #1, trailer #2, the international trailer, the Superbowl spot, etc.

And now it’s a whole new ball game. Now we can actually see parts of the movie, aspects of the mystery shed away, and we start to make harder judgments (Look at the Millenium Falcon fly! Yeah, Ben Affleck does look kinda good! Dude, this looks amazing! Oh, that looks terrible! I knew this was going to suck!) And the more trailers are released, the more we talk, debate, and speculate.

Stage 4

Finally, we move into the home stretch. More than just a few trailers, now we get a heap of thirty-second spots airing on all stations. This is when many fans begin to complain about just how much is being shown, claiming that now “I feel like I’ve seen the whole movie!” Some intentionally abstain from many of these when they air or debut online. At any rate, what was once just a meager press announcement, years and years away, now feels real and tangible, and coming out next weekend!

The Release

Then, finally, the night comes. We all head out to our 7:30 “advanced screenings” because no one wants to wait until midnight anymore. And we see it. Suddenly, all the speculation, all the theories, all the debates, are useless. Now it’s just a movie that we have seen. Ultimately, it was good or it was bad, and within a short time, the permanent internet opinion is cemented by millions of fan comments left all over websites like these.

Eventually, what felt like it would never get here eventually fades into the distant past. Years go by, the movie may have many, sequels we obsessed about every bit as much, repeating the process time and again. Ultimately, we forget the long road to that film. But for me, this is the most exciting part.

Take this for example: Can you imagine if Disney made a Star Wars movie completely in secret, and then announced and released it the very same day, with no promotioinal trailers or even images? Well, for one, they’d probably make less money. But just think about how less of an experience it would be for the rest of us! Think of all the thought that went in to the movie the moment the first teaser arrived. Who is Kylo Ren? Is he really just Luke Skywalker? Whose voice is that? Why isn’t Luke in the trailer or the poster, seriously, where is Luke? Just think about how much we’d lose if films were made this way.

In many ways this is similar to the world of sports. Sports fans love to sit and talk about what’s going to happen, and millions will watch four guys on television do just this. Here, as we are, in March Madness, one can see everyone making their brackets, comparing them, and just spending inordinate amounts of time discussing what can and will be. So it is with the world of film.

P.S. Now just look at the speculation for our next big hype film, Batman v Superman. This build-up has lasted an inordinate amount of time thanks to a major delay in the film’s release date. The casting of Ben Affleck caused a massive sensation and debate over how he would do. But that alone was now TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO!!!! This period of speculation has been fun, but it’s high-time it came to an end. Get ready for March 25th!


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