The chronic problem of Too Much Information in movie trailers
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Hey Hollywood - stop complaining about piracy when you give away entire movies before the main feature...
One of the benefits of having been born in 1970 is that my peers and I were able to witness the transition from what might be called 'the old media world' into the one that we know today. While the internet and cable TV are invaluable in allowing us access to as much data and minutiae about pretty much anything we can think of, there's one area where this limitless supply of information is in danger of becoming a menace, and that's the wonderful world of movie marketing.
Take Ridley Scott's new movie Prometheus (2012), which has just been released. I really want to see it, having been a fan of most of Scott's work over the years, and an even bigger fan of the Alien universe in which it is set. But the problem is I wanted to go in 'cold' as it were, knowing as little about the film as possible so that I could discover it for myself in a darkened theatre.
I was too young to see Alien on the big screen when it was released in 1979, but when James Cameron's action-packed sequel came out seven years later, my friends and I were there on opening night, knowing little about the actual plot itself beyond the brief trailer we'd seen on television and a couple of articles that I'd read in Fangoria (who, as ever, were superb in not giving too much away prior to a film's release). As a result I - and we - were blown away by the experience, and surprised at the various twists and turns, and came out of the theatre very satisfied.
Now I'm obviously aware that when a studio spends millions of dollars on a movie, it needs a great marketing campaign to sell it to Joe Public. But back in the day these 'teaser' campaigns were just that - a hint of what was to come, a quick kiss in the dark to seduce and entice you to lay down your folding at the cash desk, with the promise of a couple of hours of entertainment.
These days, though, the sheer volume of pre-release promotion for the bigger movies is simply staggering. Though I've managed to avoid much of it in an attempt to preserve my sense of wonder and surprise when I do sit down to watch Prometheus, I've lost count of the number of different trailers and teaser trailers and posters and vignettes and character profiles, and on and on, for the movie which on recent experience I'm pretty sure will give far too much away. Ditto for Christopher Nolan's upcoming The Dark Knight Rises (2012), which I'm sure is going to kick all kinds of ass, mine included hopefully, but which I feel I already know too much about.
"Those of us who want the pure, unspoiled experience are just going have to become better at resisting temptation"
I was strong enough to resist the advance tidal wave of promotion for Joss Whedon's inventive and entertaining The Cabin in the Woods (2012), even managing to avoid all but the briefest of glimpses of the trailers when they blind-sided me on television, and in retrospect I'm glad that I was, because going in 99% cold to that film, I had a blast. As soon as I got home from the theatre I checked out the trailer and was immediately glad that I hadn't before I saw the movie, as there were several things in there that would have derailed a couple of 'wow' moments for me - although if you have seen the trailer and not the film yet, then do so, because there are plenty more surprises that aren't given away.
I am. however, disappointed in myself, because as a huge Spider-Man fan, having read the comics regularly for pretty much my whole life, I keep giving in and watching the trailers and reading the articles about Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Nan (2012), to the point where if I piece it all together in my mind then I've probably already seen most of the movie and know the plot and the various twists and turns inside out. That said, I only have myself to blame, and I'm sure I'll still have a blast watching ol' webhead swinging around New York and kicking The Lizard's ass in 3D.
Don't get me wrong, I love all the trailers, and promo stuff, and will tear off my clothes and roll around naked in hour after hour of DVD and Blu-ray extras about my favourite films. I just wish that the studios and their marketing people would exercise a little restraint when it comes to giving too much away in advance. There's a lot to be said for returning to the genuine 'teaser' campaigns of my youth, not least that it doesn't inadvertently spoil a movie for its potential audience; but given the relentless demands of the 24-hour digital age, with its constant need for updates and information, I don't think it'll ever happen, so those of us who want the pure, unspoiled experience are just going have to become better at resisting temptation.
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