Looks like Slash Film’s rumor about the first TFA teaser trailer was untrue after all…it’s in only 30 theaters across the country, not 100.
So dropped the news today in chaotic fashion, after the Regal Theaters chain let the nexu out of the bag, then J.J. Abrams through the Bad Robot social media accounts, and then AMC before the official Star Wars web site got out in front of the story and listed the theaters that are showing the trailer, all day, every day Friday through Sunday with each film showing at the theater. Then the trailer will go into wide release in December.
Not only is the theater count very limited in North America, there’s nothing about putting the trailer online nor is there anything about the trailer being shown internationally. I believe Disney and Lucasfilm are making a huge miscalculation. This isn’t 1990 anymore. Trailers have become events online and the big advantage of putting them online is that they can be viewed anywhere on any number of devices multiple times, whether you’re in Shanghai or in Broken Arrow. A trailer can be disseminated quickly online and viewed simultaneously by an untold number of people, who can post their reactions in real time. We’ve seen what happened this past year with trailers for “Avengers: Age Of Ultron,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.” They became global events. With international box office being very important these days and Star Wars fandom’s vast growth abroad during the prequel era, I find it baffling they’re completely blowing off that market. Movies like the recent “Spider Man” sequel, “X-Men Days Of Future Past,” and that last “Transformers” flick were saved by foreign box office.
So I’m not really sure what their strategy is, especially since everyone knows this is going to be pirated. Or as I put it, put it online or the fans will do it for you. (If you’re going, please remember to hold your phones sideways for best picture quality. Thank you.)
Now, in 1998 there was much made of eager fans who paid to see “Meet Joe Black” and “The Waterboy” at something like 75 theaters across the country just to catch the TPM trailer at the beginning and at the end of those films. I was one of them. But the fact is, the TPM trailer was all over t.v. that night and on the internet back when it was a relatively new concept to put a trailer online and it took a million years to download. There was no escaping it and that’s why it was a huge event. Everybody got to celebrate Star Wars. How could Lucasfilm forget that?
Sixteen years later, while there is a theater in my area blessed with the trailer, I’m not particularly inclined to pay $14 just to see 88 seconds of footage. I quit after they fluffed the whole trailer thing for TPM 3D anyway. Times change and people change too. Nobody gave me a check and a medal of honor for running out to see all of the Special Edition and prequel trailers, and that was back when a matinee was five bucks and gas was $1.25 a gallon.
Now compare this disorganized quickie rollout with Universal’s promotion for its teaser trailer for “Jurassic World,” which is debuting on t.v. Thanksgiving Day, where millions will be staring at their sets instead of thousands who will see the TFA trailer at a scattered few theaters. Universal posted a teaser of the teaser and let everyone know when and where to watch the entire thing. There’s clearly a coherent, organized strategy. Marvel also knows its trailers are primarily online events: it understands where its audiences are in 2014.
Maybe it’s poor planning, maybe it’s another “genius” move from the same guy who thought it was a great idea to pretend Khan wasn’t the villain of “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” maybe it’s some kind of weird reverse psychology. Someone commented on my Facebook that maybe the idea is to discourage all but the diehards to guarantee positive word of mouth. I think it’s entirely possible they are gauging reaction/demand and based on the results, decide to do a one-time broadcast or upload the trailer for a few days.
In any case, I don’t want people to think I’m just complaining because I’m one of those fans who are unhappy about everything. I supported all of the Star Wars films. I was an early true believer in Clone Wars. But maybe I need to say that the root of it all is that George Lucas had long ago earned my trust and respect. The new post-Disney purchase leadership has not and I don’t think I owe it to them just because they hold the keys to the castle. Canceling Clone Wars and hiring a basher to write a movie are two things that haven’t sat right with me and even though “Rebels” is a good show, they haven’t shown the right judgment in my opinion by putting it on a network with limited access at a strange night/time. There are a bunch of other issues. I haven’t been satisfied yet that they really “get it.”