What do we want? TRAILERS! When we do want them? YESTERDAY!
Rumor has it the long-awaited Avengers 4will hit Wednesday morning, and Marvel fans are ready. They’ve been awaiting this trailer for months — possibly since credits rolled on Avengers: Infinity War back in April.
How ready are they?
Several dozen people on Twitter have changed their handles to some version of “GIVE TRAILER UNTITLED AVENGERS.” Fans using the Twitter hashtag #MARVELVSTHEFANS have made multiple videos begging the Avengers 4directors for the trailer. Fans on Reddit have shared, then deleted, moment-by-moment descriptions of what supposedly happens in the trailer, based on unofficial leaks. They’ve pored over the social media accounts of the film’s directors and stars, looking for clues to a trailer-release date and a title.
Complicated theories about a trailer-release date for the film have arisen based on past practices, planned events and possibly the waxing and waning of the moon.
Trailer watchers have been burned before. Fans hoped Wednesday, Nov. 28 would be the big day. It was almost a year after the Avengers: Infinity War trailer came out, and the film’s directors, brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, were speaking that night in Hollywood at a screening of Infinity War sponsored by Collider.
But that datecame and went with no trailer reveal.
Footage on demand
The first ever trailer was shown in a New York Loews cinema in a way back in 1913, and it wasn’t even for a movie. Instead, it was a short film made to advertise the Broadway musical The Pleasure Seekers. But it was a brilliant hook: Tease entertainment seekers with a preview of another piece of entertainment they might enjoy. Naturally, the promotional films took off.
Trailer hysteria isn’t new, but it’s certainly reached new heights, thanks to YouTube and social media, as well as the continued boom of sci-fi and superhero flicks. Studios have even managed to squeeze a little more publicity out of their trailers by offering super-short versions, often called teaser trailers.
Anton Volkov saw trailer love growing back in 2016, when he started a movie-news Twitter account and website he called Trailer Track. A wry quote from writer-director James Mangold that’s pinned to the top of the site’s Twitter account sums up the current trailer infatuation: “[Trailers] tend to debut a few weeks after you’ve reached a peak of frustration,” it reads. “Marketing’s like foreplay.”
“This sort of level of anticipation for marketing materials, be it trailers or posters, was always there,” Volkov says. “It’s just becoming … more mainstream.”
William Bibbiani is a film critic and co-host of Canceled Too Soon, a podcast about short-lived TV shows, and the movie podcast Critically Acclaimed. He agrees trailer madness goes back — at least decades.
“Audiences were so excited for Tim Burton’s original Batman [in 1989] that many people bought tickets to another movie, just to see the trailer in a theater, and then left before the actual film began,” he said.
The trailer for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace created similar buzz 20 years ago. CNET film critic Richard Trenholm calls that era, with no Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, a “veritable Stone Age” as far as viewing trailers. He notes that Steve Jobs described the second Phantom Menace trailer as “the biggest internet download event in history.”
Three major developments in the 2000s ratcheted up the hype, Bibbiani says.
High-speed internet connections allow fans to consume trailers and marketing materials instantly and share their reactions just as quickly. The surge of successful superhero movies made “geeky blockbusters” the norm — who better than a self-proclaimed geek to dissect even the smallest movie detail? And the 24-hour online entertainment-news cycle has created a beast that’s always hungry.
“Fans of these properties are being kept in a state of constant intrigue, so that new trailers — or even the conspicuous absence of new trailers — become big events, even though they are, at their core, just commercials,” Bibbiani said.
Building the buzz
Marvel’s extreme level of secrecy about an Avengers 4 trailer is getting all the attention lately, but it’s not the norm.
In 2017, extended footage from Avengers: Infinity War was shown in summer at both San Diego Comic-Con and Disney fan gathering D23. Though that footage wasn’t shared on YouTube at the time, some of those fans revealed what they saw, and word spread.
But we’ve seen nothing for Avengers 4 besides a release date and basic plot synopsis.
“I think it’s quite clear that (Marvel executives) have spotted how much buzz and conversation the very lack of content and the secrecy generates,” Volkov said.
Even dedicated fans understand it’s all a part of Marvel’s business. Alex Rodriguez, 19, started a Twitter account this year called MCU Speculation to share news and theories about the studio.
“The hype and the tension build up more and more for each day that the trailer doesn’t get released online,” Rodriguez said. “This makes for a huge launch for the trailer.”
Trailers still serve a purpose. Hard-core fans, the kind who wear costumes to midnight showings and buy day-one tickets well in advance, are going to see Avengers 4, preview or no preview. But a trailer can help sell a film to more general audiences.
“When a film like Avengers 4 comes in, there’s always at least one writer for a site making the argument that maybe that film can get away with not releasing a single trailer,” Volkov said. But he notes Marvel isn’t about to leave millions on the table by not marketing the film to pull in an even larger audience.
And studio dollar-signs aside, trailers create a social experience that can be just pure fun.
“The urge to share certain experiences simultaneously is often irresistible,” Bibbiani said. “And why wouldn’t it be? Who doesn’t love a good trailer, and who wouldn’t want to talk about it with their friends? Especially if it’s trending on Twitter?”
There are ways to deliver the goods without driving fans to Thanos-size levels of insanity. Some studios and distributors make pre-trailer announcements. Fox and Warner Brothers have even used a Facebook and YouTube feature that counts down to the arrival of an uploaded trailer. Volkov thinks this is a smart way to build anticipation for the movie while easing fan frustration.
When a trailer finally does drop, its actual content sometimes has little to do with the film’s quality.
“We’ve all seen good films that weren’t well served by their promotional campaigns, and we’ve all seen disappointing films that looked pretty good in trailer form,” Bibbiani noted.
An extreme example of this was 2016’s Suicide Squad, whose brought in the company that cut the trailer to help edit the entire film. (It didn’t help: Suicide Squad ended up with mixed to negative critical reviews.)Warner Bros. actually
But recent films at the center of the trailer storm have unanswered questions that make their trailers even more coveted — even though the previews themselves will have to walk a fine line or.
“The upcoming trailers for Avengers 4 and Star Wars: Episode IX are bound to be huge pop culture events because both previews will … answer questions that fans have been speculating about for months,” Bibbiani said. “What really happened after The Snap? And will (Episode IX director) J.J. Abrams continue down Rian Johnson’s controversial path from The Last Jedi, or will he make the next Star Wars movie more like his relatively safer Episode VII?”
The trailers are unlikely to tell us, but fans will watch them intently regardless. In 2018, anything released before a much-anticipated movie, from a poster to an Instagram image, will be picked apart by viewers and entertainment sites hungry for clues. Apparently, the cat in the recent poster for 2019’s Captain Marvel isn’t . And in September, the Russo brothers tossed out a Where’s the Waldo?-style challenge, at what appears to be a boring black-and-white image of an almost-empty Avengers 4 set.
Look hard… pic.twitter.com/NxI8RFh4f6
— Russo Brothers (@Russo_Brothers) September 19, 2018
Drawing out the wait for a trailer only makes the desire for footage more intense. The trailer for Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t released until four months after original Infinity War trailer has been viewed more than 214 million times., which gave fans more than 100 days to moan and complain online. Even Marvel Studios co-president trailer-hungry fans by tweeting that he loved the IW trailer, but wasn’t ready to share it yet. When the trailer finally came out, however, fans made up for lost time. The
Start the countdown
Volkov says the anticipation for Avengers 4 is the biggest he’s seen for any film since starting his site in 2016. After that, he ranks Avengers: Infinity War, Justice League, and war movie Dunkirk as the most anticipated.
“It does just come down to superhero and Star Wars films being the biggest game in town in terms of general interest and box office today,” he said.
Once the Avengers 4 trailer finally drops, look for fans to start demanding the second trailer, Volkov says. And naturally, interest in Star Wars: Episode IX, due out in December 2019, will be galactically high.
But while the final film in the main Star Wars saga holds many mysteries, a trailer date might not be one of them.
“At least in the case of Episode 9, it’s fairly clear and obvious that (the trailer debut) has to be at Star Wars Celebration in April,” Volkov says.
You heard him, fans. Start the countdown. Only four months to go.
Visit our Facebook page for more stories like this and even more!