By: The Reel James –
Apparently Sony has learned nothing from their marketing campaign for 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. The studio released so many trailers and TV spots for that film that someone pieced them all together and made a video that was literally a Cliffnotes version of the film, beat by beat.
I get that Sony was, at the time, rebooting Spidey and really wanted to sell the film to anxious audiences. They needed to show people that this wasn’t Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (which, let’s face it, it kind of was), and it worked. To the tune of $700 million dollars at the box office.
This time, it’s different. They’ve already rebooted Spider-Man and we are all excited to see him on the big screen again. Or, at least we were, until the Sony marketing machine went into high gear and started cranking out plot details and footage that, again, gives away pretty much everything.
Now, I haven’t seen the film of course, and am still cautiously optimistic that Marc Webb has a few surprises up his sleeve. But I can’t promise that, and frankly Sony has been badgering us with so much footage that it’s actually making me less excited about the movie.
This is sad, because I love Spider-Man, really enjoyed the 2012 reboot, and would count TASM 2 as one of my most anticipated films of the year. Yet, the closer we get to its release the more anxious I feel. Not because I don’t think the film will be good, but because I don’t think there will be anything left for me to see once I get in the theater.
I don’t mean to berate Sony for this, or turn this into a rant about TASM 2, because this problem doesn’t start or stop with them. The age of the internet has turned us into a Spoiler Culture with a 24-hour news cycle. That creates two problems:
1) With so many studios now making big budget tentpole films, they need to fight for attention at the risk of being forgotten. That creates an overabundance in movie advertising. Movie posters aren’t enough, so we get “character posters” for everyone in the movie. Trailers aren’t enough so we get teasers that advertise those trailers. Then we get International Trailers and TV spots, that lead into behind the scenes featurettes and, puzzlingly, B-Roll featurettes.
By vying for audience attention, studios release this stuff in alarming amounts, and are constantly trying to dominate the day’s news cycle. One studio releases some concept art, the other fires back with a new poster. It’s all done in order to grab the attention of fans who will then share the stuff online.
2) Over abundance in advertising leads, inevitably, to spoilers. Studios can’t just release the same material again and again, so they feel the need to continually up the ante, showing us more and more of the films in the process. We think we like this, because “Hey, it’s something new! Check it out!” When really it’s only hurting us as an audience in the long run.
What we’re witnessing here is the lost art of anticipation in movie advertising. Not all studios are guilty of this, but those examples are unfortunately few and far between. Christopher Nolan and JJ Abrams are two directors who try extremely hard to keep things under wraps until an audience pays for their movie ticket, and I wish others would lead by their example.
All too often, a movie’s intimate details and surprises are revealed in these marketing materials. Plot twists, character choices, villainous transformations… all of them spoiled in posters and TV spots that we then spread like wildfire across the Web. I fully admit that I’m part of the problem, and don’t have a good answer on how to stop it. There’s no doubt that this sells tickets, and studios wouldn’t do it if it didn’t inevitably fill seats at the cineplex.
All I’m doing is attempting to shed some light on the sad reality that going to the movies is becoming less about actually experiencing the movie. We go into each film with such high expectations and so much knowledge about what we’re about to see that it changes, even subtly, the way we watch them.
I would argue that anticipation is still valuable, and something studios just need to learn how to market. Building up our excitement is more effective than showing us everything in hopes that it will get us to buy tickets. In most cases, we’re already going to see these movies. It would just be nice to see them in the theater, instead of on Twitter in two minute segments.