The Art of Rolling out a Trailer
Ron Seifried | On 01, Dec 2014The millennials have it short and easy. Today’s media culture of sound bites and clickbaits have moved toward a mass of empty content where a clickable “newsworthy” story links to a countdown list or a disguised satire site for gullible readers. Hollywood has taken notice of the shortened attention span and expanded the wonderful world of movie trailers by producing trailer’s for the trailers. The movie trailer now has its own sneak peak preview, a short clip announcing a full version of the first (of probably several) 2 1/2 minute vignette’s days before an online posting. Universal Studio’s cleverly generated buzz by dropping a 16-second video of virtual nothingness announcing a special Thanksgiving treat of a an extended trailer for Jurassic World, the fourth entry from Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur franchise. Not to be outdone, Lucasfilm and its beloved parent Walt Disney Studios, revealed one day after Universal’s pre-announcement, that the long-awaited first look of Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be in a limited number of theaters less than 24 hours after Jurassic World’s trailer online premiere. Universal blinked and pushed up their dino-trailer 48 hours to the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, presumably giving them an extra two days of online chatter. But the damage was done. Star Wars would dominate the Great Trailer Wars of 2014 and Jurassic World was left in the Raptor cage of online oblivion. By the end of the extended Thanksgiving weekend, dozens of Star Wars trailer parody videos were uploaded; meme’s generated and shot-by-shot commentary of an 88 second preview dominated the blogosphere. All Jurassic World got were complaints about an unseen DNA modified hybrid dinosaur and a pack of Velociraptor pets. The teaser trailer has been a medium of its own since the dawn of film, but now with instant access to videos with portable devices, studios are more aggressive on when and where to premiere a sneak peak. Comic-con, once the bastion of a small cadre of avid comic readers, has evolved into an important step in marketing franchise feature films. Exclusively created trailers for World of Warcraft and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice were showcased to a breathless group of devotees, with promises of non-disclosure and powered-down cell phones, all in the name of generating hype for unfinished products. Nevertheless, shaky mobile device cam footage and detailed scene descriptions almost instantaneously appeared on blogs for the unlucky masses unable to fly out to San Diego. Marvel Entertainment’s plan to debut the much anticipated trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron, during their crossover television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., were thwarted days before the scheduled premiere by online piracy, potentially losing a valuable week of lead-up marketing. Within days attorneys subpoenaed Google for the identity of a Google drive user and Marvel edited a new trailer for the ABC series. Despite Marvel’s compromised intellectual property, both versions of the trailer were big hits online. I am personally not averse to a blog’s method of generating easy click bait by exploiting the current Web 2.0 social media structure. People need to creatively express themselves, at the same time generate income competing with media conglomerates fighting net neutrality. It is the laziness appendage of non-content articles that is degrading our neurons and is extending to our entertainment choices. Why is Hollywood making vapid comic book movies like The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Because we bought into the lead-up hype and dulled our sensibility’s to accept trivial garbage. Hollywood execs have crafted the modern generation of franchises by churning out predictable and tired plots, camouflaged by flashy explosions, glossy set designs and stiff fashion models collecting paychecks. The teaser-for-the-trailer model is only a shell game to confuse quantity with quality. One reason commentators have declared this the Golden Age of Television is that films have become formulaic and repetitive. Sequels and remakes dominate the box office for the masses today, but the audience is beginning to take notice, even if the studio chief’s haven’t.