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Spoiler Alert: Trailers That Say Too Much

Posted: 21/07/2012 00:00

What do The Avengers, Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises have in common?

OK, there are all multi-million dollar blockbusters that hit our screens this summer; they are all, or will be part of an ongoing franchise; and they are all rather good.

But one less desirable trait that they all share is that they all have colossal action set pieces in their dénouements that were given away in the trailer.

Some may argue that the filmmakers went to an awful lot of trouble to create these climactic explosions, and that being able to see them twice constitutes good value, but putting the final money shot of a movie in the trailer is like reading the last page of a novel before tucking into chapter one.

Promotional material has reached ludicrous levels over the last few years. This summer, we have been pelted with trailers, virals, featurettes, sneak peaks, posters and even teasers for the teasers.

The laboured promotional campaign for Ridley Scott's Prometheus featured a countdown towards a sneak peak of a trailer, and when the film was finally released, it featured a character encased inside unconvincing, ageing prosthetics, just so it would fit in with the timeline of the viral campaign.

Some have argued that audiences' lukewarm response to Prometheus was a result the implacable barrage of advertising, and I think they have a point. Disney's megaflop, John Carter, was so heavily publicised due to the studio's fear that the public were unfamiliar with the concept, that the audience had already seen the majority of the nonsensical and laborious set pieces, and they stayed away in the droves.

Studios are aware that generating hype is key to the success of a summer blockbuster, but a failure to recognise that hype is not something that can be conjured up with an extensive marketing campaigned, and that hype can have catastrophic effects on box office receipts.

The fact is that all of these films have created their own hype through either the merit of their predecessors or an undying love for the characters, and slowly drip-feeding cinema goers with a film's best scenes and most impressive sequences is only going to create eventual disappointment.

Prometheus' 1979 ancestor Alien, managed to capture the attention and imagination of the movie-going public with nothing but an ingeniously devised poster and a tagline which invoked the atmosphere of the film, and audiences were blown away by what followed. It is time for Hollywood studios and their PR companies to realise that it is intrigue, not spoilers that really whets the appetite.

You can hear our review of The Dark Knight Rises on this week's podcast!

 

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