With May 22 almost exactly a month away, Disney has really gone full-speed ahead with the marketing campaign for Brad Bird's live action sci-fi epic Tomorrowland...
First off, four awesome new character posters to go along with the super-cool new IMAX poster...
Aside from these posters, I'm really not too fond of how Disney has been marketing this film. If you've been here long enough, you'll know that. I have many other gripes with the company regarding their live-action studio right now...
Now to start off, I'm all for trailers that don't show too much, but sometimes you can't show too little. Now, this is not a personal problem for me, because I know that a trailer is just that... A trailer. I normally make decisions based on my own tastes, on reviews, and what others are saying. I remember having little desire to see something like Paddington, or Edge of Tomorrow. The trailers for those did little for me, but reviews came about and I though, "Hey, why not?" I really enjoyed the former, the latter is one of my new favorites.
A film could be everything I couldn't have imagined. With some films, I don't even bother to watch the trailers. Sometimes I just go in blind. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a recent example. Something about it just didn't appeal to me, like I was in no rush to check out a trailer... But when I had seen the final Hobbit in theaters, a trailer was attached. I saw Colin Firth beat up some thugs in a pub, it was stylized, the cinematography and editing of the fight scene was awesome, the rest of the trailer showed stuff that seemed pretty cool. So I said, "Yeah, I'll see that." I saw some of the TV spots later on and read some early reviews, then I said, "I definitely want to see that!" I didn't watch the red-band trailer or anything else, went in with little knowledge of the story and whatnot, and was surprised from start to finish. I love experiences like that.
I love trailers that are mysterious, trailers that tell me that I need to see the full film to learn everything. Knowing everything beforehand eliminates the magic, but here's the thing... I'm not the general public.
The general public on the other hand is fickle when it comes to original stuff. The mystery box trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens can get away with being the way it is, because it's freakin' Star Wars. The same applies to any franchise entries. Sometimes you need to spoil some things in order to get the audience to care about your movie, cool imagery can only do so much. I have my concerns because Disney botched the marketing campaigns for similar recent live-action pictures. When I say similar, I mean movies that aren't cash grab reimaginings of Disney animated classics. Ya know, Maleficent, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, etc. etc. I want this film to be a hit, because the fate of these kinds of original/fresh Disney-released live-action films might hinge on this one film. Disney has become very trigger-happy these days, and if one type of film doesn't post the numbers they want, BANG! No more of that kind of movie! Look what happened to Muppets movies, 2D animated films, and projects like this.
The teaser for this Brad Bird film seemingly left audiences cold, many complained that it was too vague and it didn't give them a good idea of what the film is even about. I saw film fans say these things too! I mean, they of all people should know that a trailer is just a trailer, right? I mean, they had me at Brad Bird and the synopsis! The first full trailer didn't ramp up excitement either, and again, I can see why. It emphasized Tomorrowland itself and the action, but it was light on story. If I wasn't a person who was in the know about these sort of things, I'd probably say "eh, looks like another generic summer blockbuster." I saw a lot of people react that way to the marketing by that point... When people - even people who are in the know about this stuff - think an upcoming Brad Bird film looks run-of-the-mill you know something is very, very, very wrong...
I mean, to me, a successful trailer simply leaves a majority of viewers in the theater thinking, "I'm going to see that." It takes a lot of effort to accomplish that, because as the past couple of years have shown, blockbuster action and awesome VFX can't do everything, you need to give the audiences a reason to care about what's going on in those trailers. Tomorrowland's first trailer drops the ball by rushing things. We get a good introduction to Tomorrowland and we see how the pin that takes Britt Robertson's character Casey Newton to said world works. Then it's the typical "you're the chosen one" stuff, but why? Why is Casey the chosen one? We don't get a good idea of who she is, personality-wise. We don't get any hints that she's super-brilliant or worthy to save Tomorrowland. Vague hints of other things go completely unnoticed by audiences. Then we get glimpses of bad guys, and they seem to want to get to Tomorrowland or do something bad to it... But that's it. Just, bad guys.
Now I don't mind that, personally. Again, I want to be kept in the dark. Audiences on the other hand need a reason to care, and unfortunately, spoilers are the price to pay if you want to satisfy them...
So, the newest trailer...
Judging by some of the mixed reactions I saw around the net, the marketing still isn't really working. For every "it looks cool" sort of comment, there are complaints saying that the trailer shows too little and that the movie doesn't look interesting. Again, not very good.
What do I think? I loved what I saw, I'm in the know, so of course I savored every second of this trailer. I loved what I saw in the last trailer, too, I just didn't like the way the footage was presented. What matters to me is this: The footage looks good.
That apparently isn't enough for others.
Anyways, the new trailer once again shows the pin, our lead, and how it takes her to Tomorrowland... But this trailer implies that the pin temporarily takes her there. So she says she saw George Clooney's jaded inventor character Frank Walker there, and we learn some new things. But then boom, there's the threat from the last trailer! Those mysterious bad guys who want to get into Tomorrowland! Oh, and we see that they mean business and there's more to them when we thought! The trailer then goes all-out nuts and decides to show Walker and Newton's exciting escape to Tomorrowland rather than a montage. I can only assume this all happens in the first act of the film. Anyways, it's loud, it's wild, it's intense, it got my blood pumping! I'm still asking questions, but again, I'm okay with that... I like mystery and surprise.
But is this trailer going to get others out there excited? Are audiences taking well to the mystery box marketing? Like I said earlier, I'm seeing lots of mixed reactions and that isn't very good... Even Brad Bird is doing what he can to amp up excitement on Twitter. People are telling him on Twitter that the trailers are showing too little or aren't working, here's what he's saying back...
Don't be mad. We're just looking for commitment. Come May 22, buy a ticket, some popcorn. We'll treat you right. https://t.co/kfGgJo9bxI
— Brad Bird (@BradBirdA113) April 21, 2015
The sell gets harder the closer you get to the film's release. We've got BOOMS, BANGS. But we've also got a STORY. https://t.co/EBAU6rhEaG
— Brad Bird (@BradBirdA113) April 21, 2015
I guess a lot of people want their trailers done in a specific way. Nothing wrong with that, it takes all kinds to make the world. I can see where some of those people are coming from. If we don't care about the leads and their dilemma, why should we want to see the movie? But I also think, "What if the movie turns out to be great? What if the actual film gives us a reason to care about what's going on?" Again, a trailer is a trailer. It's meant to sell the film, but at the same time, shouldn't we just ignore trailers, and just wait till reviews and word-of-mouth? I can't rip audiences apart, their tastes are their tastes... Getting a lot of audiences around the country and the world interested in an upcoming film is quite a tough task. Sometimes audiences might not even like your movie in the end, even if it's great in the eyes of critics and fans.
But I have a feeling audiences will love the film, they just have to get a ton of them in the seats on opening weekend. Heaven forbid your big budget film opens with $35 million, forget legs and potentially great international numbers, your movie is "FLOP! FLOP! FLOP!" and DOA. Then audiences see the bad press and assume the movie in question must be bad. Some films have survived that, others... Well... Might not.
On the positive side, this film has what the previous string of risky live-action Disney films didn't have... The connections to the parks. Remember Pirates of the Caribbean? Well, hopefully people who are watching the trailers think "It's a movie based on Tomorrowland at Disneyland and WDW!" and go see it just for that reason. Prince of Persia was another video game adaptation and it looked like a generic swords-and-sandals action flick, The Sorcerer's Apprentice looked like a movie for preteens. John Carter, on top of its awful title and marketing, had the misfortune of being based on source material that many people don't know... Even worse, that source material influenced the likes of Star Wars and Avatar. And people thought it looked like a rip off of Star Wars and Avatar! Of course the marketing failed to clear things up, no "Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' legendary novels" or "From director Andrew Stanton" tags. The Lone Ranger? That film looked like a generic western with a Pirates of the Caribbean flavor, and Pirates' expiration date was a long, long, long time ago. Oh, and the trailers failed to give audiences a reason why they should go see it.
Tomorrowland fortunately has the parks on its side, but some people will cry "it looks like a generic sci-fi movie!" So yes, I think the film is still fighting an uphill battle at this point. Hopefully all my worrying will be all for naught come Memorial Day weekend. I just want it to open very well, hold on well, and I want its success to tell Disney's higher ups that yes, the live-action studio should make cool original stuff! Most of all, I want Brad Bird to be rewarded for yet another most likely awesome film.
What did you think of the trailer? Is it better than the previous ones to you? Or do you still think that the marketing for this film isn't working? Sound off below!