‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: Don’t Watch the Trailers
A while back, we published an article addressing the relative secrecy surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Thanks in large part to J.J. Abrams’s propensity for withholding even the slightest of spoilers, we’ve been told very little in the way of major plot-points. Abrams himself is notorious for shrouding all his projects in secrecy and, according to reports from Variety, didn’t even want to air the initial teaser that debuted last December. Since then, we’ve paid witness to two more full-length trailers, the latter of which was advertised as the “final” one before The Force Awakens releases.
In true Hollywood fashion though, Disney has managed to stretch the definition of “final” into something decidedly the opposite. Since the Monday Night Football trailer in October, the studio has released an additional international version with new footage, five TV spots, a full clip from the film, and a behind-the-scenes featurette (not to be confused with the one they released at San Diego Comic-Con). Suddenly, a movie that originally was kept under wraps is teasing out new footage on a weekly basis.
There are two reactions most fans have had in the wake of this deluge of TV spots: “Hooray, more Star Wars!” and “Oh my god please stop, and just release this god damn movie already.” For our part, you can put us firmly in the second category. Star Wars is a franchise that markets itself. People are going to see this movie. Like, lots of people. If you shave off maybe three of those five TV spots, odds are that number won’t appreciably change. If you opt not to air any of them, it’s a safe bet that The Force Awakens still makes Avatar kinds of money. If Lucasfilm had aired a teaser that was nothing but Han Solo doing a hand-stand, it’d get 40 million views on YouTube and half the world would still see this movie. That’s how unnecessary the current advertising has been.
In the face of all this, our advice is simple. Don’t watch any more footage. No teasers, no TV spots, no Han Solo hand-stands, nothing. Just this once, let yourself be surprised. It’s too late to undo what you’ve seen in the full-length trailers, but even those are ambiguous enough to keep everyone comfortably in the dark. The chance to go into a blockbuster with the gift of not knowing is rare, and it’s something to be cherished when it comes to Star Wars. It’s the not knowing that made A New Hope so breathtaking back in 1977, and if you, like us, are committed to recreating that sense of awe this time around, the best way is to allow yourself to be surprised.
It’s hard, we know. Studios are radically committed to the idea that no film can function without giving away 80% of the story across four full-length trailers and a healthy round of TV spots. It’s ingrained a culture of knowing within all of us that removes any and all suspense, and it’s something we’ve all just sort of accepted. Trailers and teasers give us instant gratification; the sense of “yay, more Star Wars!” is hard to shake when you’re essentially told you don’t have to wait a month to see footage. But in this case, sacrificing those 30 seconds of satiation for a better two-hour experience in the theater is going to give you the best possible Force Awakens experience.
Each of us remembers the first time we saw A New Hope. We all recall what it was like sitting in the theater for The Phantom Menace (prequel flaws aside). Nothing beats that sense of anticipation and mystery, and The Force Awakens gives us the opportunity to feel that again. Stay away from people telling you you’ll be happier knowing more. If you manage to stay out of the loop between now and December 18, we can promise you: You’ll be better off for it in the end.
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