Tag Archives: Marketing

Spoiler: Trailers Ruin Movies

22 Jul

It was Spring 2008, and there was one particular movie I had been salivating to see for the past two years. I was very excited to see the Dark Knight that summer. I had been so grabbed by Batman Begins. Perfectly directed by Christopher Nolan, the franchise had been re-invented and resurrected. Then I heard the important members of the cast were all back and more importantly the director was back, I was on cloud nine for the Dark Knight. In the coming months up to the film’s release, I must’ve watched all thirty seven trailers, featurette’s, any other possible means of movie footage, and then I talked to my cousin.

With this particular individual, because of a ten year gap and my young interest in lego and well his interest in the opposite sex, conversations tended to revolve around video games, and well movies. So when I asked him, had you seen the trailer??? And he said ‘No’ I was in shock and a state of disbelief. I said let me grab a computer and he said: ‘No I don’t want to see a trailer’. What had possessed him, what and turned him into a movie temple of solitude, a creature of bizarre proportions? He then simply told me that he already planned to see the movie and thus didn’t need to see a trailer. I was shocked by this concept, and personally somewhat revolted, but this credo stayed with me none the less, and had planted a seed in my 8mm psyche.

Fast forward to present day and an over anticipation to see Man of Steel, the latest Superman film directed by Zack Snyder. This movie was being produced by my Bat friendly Chris Nolan (yes we’re on nick name terms), directed by Zack (300, Dawn of the Dead), and they were going to re-invent the franchise with a classic origin story. The variables added up so I let myself get excited, and I watched all 37 trailers, featurettes, and other bogus online crap, to get me more excited then I needed to be. But unlike the Dark Knight, this film did not live up to its cinematic potential, at least according to my imagination. It wasn’t a bad movie, it just wasn’t the breath of fresh air I was looking for, and it tasted stale and gross. And then I reflected, was it the lack of character development, was it the over the top action, or was it the fact that the S crest was literally the only symbol on Krypton? My cousin’s words started to come to me in my sleep as an echo, and then a yell! No it wasn’t the script or characters or whatever, while none of these things helped, the real problem was that I bought into the pre movie hype.

On a rare occasion a movie so good can transcend any hype put upon it, but this is a film with a divine touch, a classic or a masterpiece, for lack of a better term. But the reality is, movie’s are fragile stories, and like anything in life can be over sold. We’ve all been to the restaurant, seen the picture of the 7 layered triple chocolate cake with a puff of whipped cream and drizzled caramel sauce, ordered in and realized it was replaced with its single layered, floppy butter cream, un-appetizing, alcoholic half cousin? My sales boss used to draw horrible renditions of products to clients, yet they’d still buy and always be ten times happier than the original doodle they saw scribbled by him on a back of a cocktail napkin; the reason being, they weren’t over sold. In fact he used to hate computer mock-ups, because most of the time the mock-up was nicer than the actual final product. Don’t over sell. It’s one of the hard things I had to learn in sales, once the client says they’ll buy, leave it as is and complete the purchase, you don’t ever want to over promise and under deliver.

So what went wrong with Man of Steel? What went wrong was I had an unquenchable thirst of what the movie could be and I was so disappointed. I personally blame this on my own field of study and the make or break of many movies, the department of marketing. Two years ago a financial success of a film came out titled Super 8, the director was J.J. Abrams and he had an idea. The movie was steeped in mystery as he controlled the marketing direction of the film. He refused to reveal the monster and refused to reveal any plot. The studio thought no one would go to see it and it would be a predictable flop. But the success was anything but predictable, it grossed $259 million worldwide and had a simple budget of $50 million (Compared to the Box Office flop ‘After Earth’s Budget of $130 million). It was an experiment that paid off; unfortunately it hasn’t had the ripple effects needed to fix an entire industry. Yesterday I saw a blog that pointed out 17 trailers that ruined the twist of movies, thank the Lord that half of the movies I had seen without the need of a trailer. It’s as if that dim-witted friend asks you to tell the joke with the ‘that’s because she’s blond’ punch line, well instead of ruining the joke for a few friends, you’ve ruined the sale potential to a few thousand viewers.

Now if an executive were here they’d say, it doesn’t matter, as long as they come in the doors on opening night, you’ll do fine. I totally disagree with this and so does history in a word of mouth society. If you oversell a movie and people leave a theatre disappointed then even if they just purchased a ticket, there’s little chance they’ll come back or even tell their friends to see it. If anything they’ll give it a bad rating and rant on their blog about it (proof, read this blog again). But if they are properly sold, and happy with the results then the movie will live on past the opening night. Especially with websites like Imdb and rotten tomatoes and their user rating so important, it’s rare that I’ll see a movie without giving it a quick online peak.

With all my current disappointment in movies I’ve realized something, I’m being oversold. It isn’t the only problem but it’s a large contributor and one that I can easily avoid. That seed that was planted by my cousin now makes sense; if I know I plan on reading the book, why read the back and chance reading pivotal plot twists. I know it’s difficult in this age of hype and open access to information, but until the studios get it right, believe me when saying, a little faith might just restore your magic in the movies.

You shall not pass,

DD

Funfacts:
According to Alexa.com
Facebook is the number one visited site in the world
Apple.com is 54th
IMDB is 57th
Amazon.com is 60th
CNN.com is 82nd
CBC.ca is 1,328th
Hotmail.com is 2,733rd

I guess we love our International Movie Database

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