Good Vs. Bad: A Tale of Two Trailers – Look! It Moves! By Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh writes:

So two major teaser trailers were released this past week, one good, one bad. Let’s talk about why they’re good and bad, shall we?

You couldn’t get more diametrically opposite trailers from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer and the Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailers. The only thing they have in common is they’re both pop culture touchstones with a lot of money and cultural discussion at stake.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngElkyQ6Rhs&spfreload=10[/youtube]

These are teaser trailers because they don’t tell you what the plot is, as full trailers tend to do. Those come a few months down the line when the movie release looms closer. I’m not going to comment or speculate on what the story to either of the movies might be because we still don’t know exactly what the plots are. I want to judge the trailers on their own.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwfUnkBfdZ4&spfreload=10[/youtube]

Trailers only have one job: to make people want to see the movies.

I would say the Star Wars teaser succeeds in spades. The Superman Vs. Batman trailer? Not so much. Let’s break it down.

These are blockbuster movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, so it stands to reason that they would have ad and marketing campaigns budgeted at tens of millions of dollars to make the general public know these movies are coming so that they would want to see them. The Star Wars trailer does what you expect a trailer for a blockbuster movie should have: spectacle, a sense of wonder, a sense of adventure, escapism, fun. The Batman Vs. Superman trailer has a dark, ominous, lugubrious tone. It looks like a Russian, Tarkovsky-esque arthouse movie about loss of spiritual faith, only with men in tights running around and the odd explosion.

I’m not sure the Batman Vs. Superman trailer makes the movie look fun. And that might be the kiss of death for a blockbuster movie. If it ends up bombing or underperforming at the box office next year, regardless of whether it’s actually any good or not, you can trace it back to this teaser trailer. The studio now has nearly a year to course-correct and convince the public that this movie is going to be a big, fun movie everyone wants to see, and it’s hard to counter a bad first impression.

You might think I’m exaggerating or trolling, but I’m talking entirely from a marketing and PR point of view, and overall, I think the trailer might be an epic fail. Here’s why. While some comics fans might think the trailer was fine and they’re entirely in the mood for an adult, GrimDark version of Batman and Superman, they are not the target audience for the movie if the studio wants it to earn a billion dollars at the box office. In order for a movie to earn out that much, it has to appeal to everyone. Parents need to feel they can bring their children to see it and have a good time.

Teenagers need to think it’s something cool that they want to see. And these audiences need to like the movie so much that they want to see it two, three, four times. That’s how the likes of Nolan’s Batman movies, Frozen, the Fast and the Furious series and the last Transformers movies made so much money at the box office. And the key to that is that they’re thrilling and fun. FUN should be the operative word. The Star Wars teaser trailer delivers the sense that the movie will be fun for all the family. The Batman Vs. Superman trailer… does not. It looks like the cinematic equivalent of a cold, dark, hopeless, rainy day in February, and not even the suicidally-depressed want to experience that by choice. I really don’t think any parent that’s not a comics geek will look at it and think, “Yeah, that looks like a fun Friday night at the movies with the kids!”

What I find interesting is that both trailers actively play on audience expectations. Neither movie is a new IP or unknown quantity, featuring characters and franchises known to the general public for over 30 years. And they’re both for series and characters primarily aimed at children. The Star Wars teaser addresses this head-on by giving the audience exactly what they hoped to see: known space ships, action and the return of popular characters. The Batman Vs. Superman trailer takes a gamble by challenging audience expectations and presenting known characters as darker, grimmer and more adult. I also assume that Warner Studios’ PR and Marketing Department could only work with the movie that was made.

It’s entirely possible that Star Wars: The Force Awakes might turn out to be utter rubbish and disappointing, but right now, we don’t have any indications of that from the teaser trailer. Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice might turn out to be a masterpiece of modern mythical moviemaking, but that trailer, however, does not make me fancy the chances of that turning out to be true.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a remix of the Batman Vs. Superman trailer that gets more to the point.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMI6B734Ew4[/youtube]

Trailers for life at lookitmoves@gmail.com

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Look! It Moves! © Adisakdi Tantimedh

About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.

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