Effective Marketing

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There’s a new film coming out next week called ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ and it’s the ‘spiritual’ sequel to 2008’s ‘Cloverfield’. What both of these films have in common is their exceptional marketing, something the film industry is lacking these days. Both films have been produced by J. J. Abrams behind ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (my review here) and ‘Star Trek’ which both films as well were notorious were for their lack of spoilers.

With the original ‘Cloverfield’, a untitled teaser trailer appeared in July 2007 – just over 6 months before its release. It was very vague but enough to catch audience’s interest with the flying head of the Statue of Liberty. The trailer didn’t give away the film’s title – the only text was the release date ‘1.18.08’ (18th January) so fans went looking around the Internet for clues and Abrams had set up a website with clues for the audience to try and piece together. Social media, in particular Twitter, was relatively young so it was harder for information to pass around. ‘Cloverfield’ built up a lot of hype over the 6 months towards its release date and when it finally opened in America, it was Number 1 at the Box Office.

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’10 Cloverfield Lane’ has gone through a similar structure. Hot after the heels of Abrams’, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, the trailer for this sequel appeared online just 2 months before its release date and again, it got audiences talking. Perhaps the reason why it was announced last minute is due to the impact of social media or perhaps just so Abrams could get ‘Star Wars’ out of the way first. Either way, it’s genius.

Now whether or not, ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ ends up being a good sequel or not (early reviews would suggest it is a worthy sequel), you have to admire Abrams’ marketing technique. Even for ‘Star Wars’ and both of his ‘Star Trek’ entries, production was shrouded in secrecy and the trailers were deliberately vague to not spoil the whole film.

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Christopher Nolan is another filmmaker who is notorious for holding back spoilers for his films up until its release. Although teaser trailers were released more than a year in advance for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘Interstellar’, nothing was given away until the film was released. What I particular admire about ‘Interstellar’ was its casting of Matt Damon who wasn’t revealed to be in the cast until very late into production and his character was in wraps up until the film opened. Another ingenious piece of marketing was David Fincher’s, ‘Se7en’ where similar to ‘Interstellar’, no one knew Kevin Spacey was going to be in the film until he shows up. Even in the opening credits to the film, Spacey’s name is omitted.

I think the film industry needs to have a big, long think about the way films should be marketed. With pretty much every mainstream film, trailers constantly ruin the film and promise us something that the film doesn’t give us. With Marvel and DC’s films, they have announced their line-up of films up until 2020 and the upcoming superhero smackdown that is ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ first received a teaser trailer in July 2014. That’s a year and a half in advance! Of course, this established to audiences that this film was in the pipeline for those that didn’t know but there have been 3 or 4 trailers now and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if when I watch the film, it is able to surprise me with something new that hasn’t already been spoiled. Everyone knew Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was going to be the villain but the second trailer spoiled that Doomsday would feature as well which I think ruins the experience.

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It’s not just spoilers that ruin a film but even the trailer is marketed as a big event. A lot of films release 15 second teasers of the TRAILER a couple of days / weeks in advance. Take the upcoming ‘Warcraft’ for example that released 15 second snippets of the trailer before it was released. This is crazy, in my opinion and it’s killing the film industry. Again, I will be surprised if the film offers anything new to what has been revealed in the trailers.

When you go the cinema or watch a film at home for the first time, it should be a new experience – like going to the theatre for example. When the lights fade out and the opening titles begin to appear on-screen, the audience should be on the edge of their seats and experience what is being portrayed on-screen. A lot of films that I have watched recently have been spoiled for me due to the excessive marketing and when I finally watch them, I tend to feel disappointed and start ticking off a mental checklist of what’s already been shown in the trailers.

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That is not what films are about and with talents like J. J. Abrams or Christopher Nolan, whether you like their filmographies or not, you’ve got to respect them for attempting to give to you the filmgoing experience.

’10 Cloverfield Lane’ will be released in UK cinemas on Friday 18th March.

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