Trailers: To see, or not to see, that is the question.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens made nearly a quarter billion dollars during its opening weekend. Granted, Star Wars is arguably the most beloved movie franchise of all time, but you don’t pull in close to a billion dollars domestically on brand loyalty alone. Films like The Force Awakens, The Avengers, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice each employed marketing budgets that could fund a decade’s worth of indie movies. When your film costs roughly $200 million, the studio’s marketing gurus better do whatever it takes to recoup their investment. Hollywood’s quest to entice viewers into theaters has lead to strange new dynamic where in a bid to pry us away from Netflix, our Playstations, and prestige TV, studios are willing to reveal a movie’s best moments.
Disney’s main objective for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is to surpass The Force Awakens’ box office totals. To achieve their goal, Disney is primed to unleash an all-out marketing blitz which they’ll kick-off with The Last Jedi’s upcoming trailer. Star Wars fans are notorious for their ravenous appetite for even the smallest tidbits of information and Disney’s latest trailer is ready to supply them with exactly that. So, what’s the problem? The Last Jedi’s director, Rian Johnson, thinks maybe fans should pump the brakes on tonight’s trailer.
Johnson took to his personal twitter account and tweeted out his thoughts on watching the trailer versus going into the film blind.
“I a legitimately torn. If you want to come in clean, absolutely avoid it. But it’s gooooood…..”
Is there a legitimate, “I am your father,” level shocker in The Last Jedi’s marketing campaign or is this the case of a filmmaker being precious with their material? If you had to pick a film that could earn half a billion dollars with no marketing at all behind it, you would be smart to choose a Star Wars movie, so Johnson is in no danger of hurting his film’s chances by telling potential customers to skip the trailer.
You don’t have to go back very far to find another example of Disney releasing a spoilerific trailer. Disney, steward of the Marvel movie universe, teamed up with Sony Pictures to create Spider-Man: Homecoming and proceeded to drop one of the year’s most spoilery trailers. The Homecoming trailer takes the viewer through Peter Parker’s entire arc; Peter fighting low-level thugs, Peter seeking Tony Stark’s approval, Peter fighting The Vulture and then losing Stark’s approval (and his Spidey suit). The trailer literally reveals the movie’s climactic set-piece where Peter prevents an airplane from crashing while wearing his home-made costume. Going into a theater to watch Homecoming, one didn’t require Bruce Wayne quality detective skills to sketch out the arc of the film.
Knowing Homecoming’s major story beats didn’t ruin the movie for me but it did (slightly) diminish how much I enjoyed it. Short of The Last Jedi’s trailer revealing Luke joining the dark side, I don’t see how it can ruin my experience either. We’re living in a spoiler-heavy culture where within moments, breaking news gets broadcast from a million social media handles and a dozen cable news outlets. It’s easier to remain in the dark during the lead-up to a zany biopic like American Made than it is to dodge spoilers from a pop culture juggernauts like Wonder Woman.” And when it comes to a film with the words Star Wars in the title, there’s no use trying to resist the force.