Are Trailers Already Spoiling Too Much of ‘Rogue One’?
Trailer culture is pretty damn pervasive in modern cinema. The anticipation surrounding the release of a new teaser often even rivals the release of the film said teaser advertises. It’s led to many studios opting to blitz audiences with story-spoiling footage well in advance of the premiere, often leaving little to the imagination in terms of what’s to come. In the last couple years, no one’s been a bigger offender than Lucasfilm. It started with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, preceded by upwards of two full-length trailers, five TV spots, two behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a series of clips from the film itself. And if you thought that was the peak of trailer overload for the Star Wars saga, then get a load of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Over the last year, Lucasfilm has rolled out a bafflingly sizable run of footage for their first installment in the “Anthology” series. The running total as of this article’s publishing is: one “teaser,” two full-length trailers, five “international trailers,” 10 behind-the-scenes featurettes, seven clips, 42(!) TV spots, four separate “previews” that aired during the Olympics, and to top it all off, a Fandango-sponsored “Ultimate Franchise Trailer.” For anyone keeping track at home, that’s a whopping 72 separate videos all prominently featuring key Rogue One footage, totaling over an hour (obviously with some overlap).
We’re starting to feel a bit like a broken record saying this, having already covered this last year leading into the release of The Force Awakens, but there reaches a point of extreme diminishing returns when it comes to hyping up a movie. When you start releasing something new almost every other day, you begin to wonder whether there’ll be any surprises left by the time the film finally does hit theaters.
In fairness to Lucasfilm, we totally understand the temptation (and potential necessity). Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie set outside the main trilogies, and there’s a whole lot riding on its success. But with most estimates putting it in some lofty box office territory for its opening weekend, there’s really no need to belabor the point. The Star Wars brand practically sells itself at this point, making the veritable deluge of TV spots, trailers, and featurettes less a marketing necessity, and more a detriment to the film itself.
Promoting a release is a delicate process for all involved. A studio has a vested interest in building and maintaining a constant buzz. At the same time, they also need to give audiences just enough to get them excited, but not so much that the entire movie is spoiled before it ever hits theaters. For a franchise like Star Wars though, the rules are slightly different. The fanbase is going to show up en masse no matter how you advertise the film, and Rogue One will be no exception.
It makes Lucasfilm’s strategy all that more curious. Why inundate fans who were already committed to seeing this movie the second it was announced with spoiler-laden footage every step of the way? More than that, what are you trying to accomplish in the first place? There’s nothing fun about walking into a theater with a solid outline of almost every story beat, and right now it’s hard not to feel like that’s what we’re getting with Rogue One.
It’s worth clarifying a couple points here. First off, we couldn’t be more excited for this movie. The idea of a standalone Star Wars story that essentially amounts to a war movie is insanely cool. The thing is, we were fairly set in that opinion after the first teaser back in April. We were even reasonably excited after the two full-length trailers that followed. A dozen teasers and TV spots later though, and it starts to feel a lot like overkill for a movie that essentially had us at “hello.”
So where does that leave you, the target demographic of Lucasfilm’s Rogue One trailer blitz? The easiest solution is to simply stop watching. Hell, you can even go ahead and take a peek at the main trailer; just avoid the window dressing. Quit tuning into the onslaught of TV spots and featurettes, and leave some surprises for opening night.
Ultimately, this will be all mostly buried under the hype of Rogue One‘s eventual release. Most of our discussions post-December 16 are likely going to be related to the film itself, as we try and determine the longevity of the Anthology series, the relative success of the first chapter, and anything else that hasn’t yet been shown to us in trailers. But mark our words, this is going to come up again soon. Episode VIII is almost a year off, and if Lucasfilm follows a similar roadmap, we may be in for more of the same. For now, all we can do is hope that Rogue One still has more to show us.
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