San Diego Comic-Con is coming and with it will be an opportunity for studios to showcase their films and begin their marketing and advertising. For many this will be almost a whole year in advance, with limited footage or just some leaked information about casting, plots or concept art. For other movies it will be their “teaser” trailer, offering the first, somewhat restricted and limited glimpses at the movie’s people will have to wait another eight, nine or even twelve months to see.
Is this really helping the movies though? Are studios releasing footage too early and getting fans clambering for films too far in advance? This wasn’t always the way and as with most things, we can blame the internet.
The internet meant fans now had instant access to new footage, images and trailers of movies whenever they wanted. They no longer have to pay to see another film entirely just to get a first-look at the sought-after film or wait until the TV spots to even know the movie existed. Now from the moment of release the fans get all the facts, information and in a lot of cases spoilers, that they want.
This can seemingly hurt a movie though. With this new insight and anticipation, it places a larger burden on the movies that are being made. Fans want to know everything, see everything and begin to get excited for the film from the moment they know it exists and then when it doesn’t match up to that anticipation, they disregard the film as poor or of lesser quality.
Some films can withstand this and actually use it to their advantage. As with many examples of success stories, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was probably the most anticipated movie of the last decade and the fervor and anticipation was unprecedented. Luckily, it teased this out, with the first trailer being released a whole year before the movie was but this could have easily backfired.
Ghostbusters is going through a similar problem at the moment. From the point the film was announced, Paul Feig has been criticised. People were already skeptical about the movie but Feig hasn’t helped himself by releasing images, clips and trailers well in advance of the movie’s release next month. The anticipation is slightly different than that of Star Wars and many fans are already negative of the movie before they’ve even entered the cinema but surely Feig is fueling this fire with his marketing campaign starting so early.
Compare this to another recent release from earlier this year. 10 Cloverfield Lane was announced, a trailer released and details slowly leaked with only three months before it was shown in cinemas. It meant that fans had little time to search for any details or come to their own conclusions. It also meant that both anticipation and expectation for the movie was controlled and many fans watched the film with little knowledge and then complete surprise.
Imagine if producer J J Abrams had released the information that there was to be a Cloverfield “sequel.” Even if he had stated, as he did before the film was actually released, that it would be a “spiritual” sequel rather than a full one, people would still expect a huge monster or found footage and may have been more disappointed as they discovered these elements weren’t present.
Maybe the crop of huge blockbusters, some due to start marketing next month at Comic-Con could benefit from a more surprise approach. The idea of a blockbuster being announced, the trailer released and then the audience seeing it in cinemas within three months may seem extreme to a world so hungry for information but imagine how much less the pressure would be if people didn’t have a year (or longer) to chew over every small detail and create the movie they want to see in their heads already.
Overall, marketing seems to begin far too early for modern movies and it may be hurting the appreciation of the film they are advertising. Rather than a full year, with sneak-peaks, stills, trailers and gossip being constantly released, a more surprise approach or more controlled advertising campaign may be more beneficial.