Investors in a film want to take every action possible to ensure their movie will at least make its money back. With smaller, and even many mid-sized films, audiences need about six weeks of consistent ad reception to be aware of a film’s release. The most depressing words a filmmaker can hear from the average moviegoer are, “Is that coming out this weekend?”
Large scale films, however, can’t afford viewer ignorance. Releasing a teaser trailer a year ahead of time pings viewers’ minds. They won’t remember the exact date, but, subconsciously, they’ll know it’s coming out sometime. This is usually followed by a full-length trailer six months out, then by a final trailer 2-3 months before release. Once that six-week countdown to release starts, marketers know that the fans of this movie are prepped, so they focus on grabbing less die-hard eyeballs via TV, radio, and Internet ads as well as late-night TV appearances.
While this process, of course, costs more money than a standard release, the investment is usually worth it, leading to big opening weekends.
Another layer of this process gets added when talking about franchise and cinematic-universe films. If the property being released is a sequel or adaptation, a teaser trailer gets the appropriate content-mill websites and fanbase buzzing. Think of how many clickbait articles have already dissected every morsel of the next Marvel phases, with the next Avengers movie still two years away! Yesterday, while scrolling Reddit without logging in, the website’s default feed showed me two different concept posters for the next Batman movie. Kicking off a marketing campaign early, then, can snowball into an avalanche of free advertising.
Finally, regarding younger audiences, a film can make back most, if not all, of their money through merchandising opportunities. No one at Disney cared that Cars 2 and the shudderingly dreadful spinoff Planes were blatant cash grabs. They made their entire investment back by selling kids’ toys. As long as the marketing hides the unsavory reality of the final product, no one at the studio will care about bad reviews or hideous audience scores. They’ve already got their money back.
That said, audiences can only be fooled by clever marketing to a point. Even though Bumblebee is a fantastic film, it underperformed because the narrative laziness of the previous Transformers films poisoned audiences before the spinoff’s release.
The opposite is also true: Mission Impossible has delivered four truly spectacular sequels; I can’t wait to see it–even if it is still a year out.
The highly touted Game of Thrones prequel premieres Sunday night. Critics say this show keeps all the captivating parts of the original show, but is helmed, for the moment, by more responsible people.
Did you like Princess Principal? If your answer is “I don’t know what that is,” watch that here; you’re welcome. Lycoris is a spiritual successor and is an original project created by a supergroup of animator teams. Teen assassins who work at a cafe as their side job may sound suspect, but just like their kills–it’s all in the execution.