Spoilers suck, but even more so when it’s the production company telling you about them.
The latest Star Wars trailer was released last week and I meant to ignore it after director, Ryan Johnson, tweeted in response to a question regarding possible spoilers “More stuff is coming, that’s the nature of the beast. But I fully endorse avoiding everything you can from now till December!”. For a long time I’ve attempted to go into films that I already intend on seeing as spoiler-free as possible as possible, trying to steer clear of trailers and such but boy am I Star Wars fan-boy… I couldn’t resist, it was like that last slice of pizza you know you shouldn’t eat but you really, really want to and afterwards, instant regret.
Now the trailer wasn’t really that bad but in comparison to The Force Awakens marketing campaign it gave you a lot more to go off. But my real question here is, do we need trailers, or at least full length trailers? I mean, who’s going to go and see Star Wars purely because they saw the trailer?
In my last blog I briefly noted Matthew Vaughn’s frustration at his marketing department’s reveal of Colin Firth’s return after being killed off in the Kingsman franchise. In his interview with Empire, he goes on to detail how they’d kept his involvement in the film a secret with pseudonyms for call sheets and in the possible event of someone seeing him there, the excuse that he was in a flashback, which he actually was.
As a smaller film with a surprise hit status, you could see why the boffins at the marketing department did that, there’s more money riding on this one, there’s a chance it isn’t going to capture the lightning in a bottle that the first one did, so best play it safe and announce the Oscar winner that’s in the movie.
However a terrible franchise for spoiler reveals is the Terminator series: revealing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s previously antagonist terminator as a good guy in the Terminator 2: Judgement Day trailer; outing Sam Worthington’s character as a secret terminator in Terminator Salvation; and making it wholly obvious that John Conner was going to be the antagonist in Terminator Genysis.
As an established and “successful” franchise, why in the world are you revealing plot points about the films? At least with Terminator 2: Judgement Day the reveal happens during the first act, the other two are third act reveals. At this point there’s not actually much point going to see the movie!
A film I wrote half an article about a while back about one of my favorites of last year, 10 Cloverfield Lane. This film popped up out of nowhere, completely unannounced and with a trailer that – when you were watching the movie – actually tricked you into believing certain truths. Coexisting in a world where Cloverfield happened (a monster ran ruin, Godzilla style, through New York), it played with the knowledge of its audience who would go on to assume certain things that its characters might not.
This – for me at least – was a masterpiece in marketing a film, getting people to see it and then making sure they didn’t really know anything about it and I wish more companies could get it that right because I love watching trailers!