Clone Corridor posted its own take here, but I’m going to discuss more the hype and reactions to trailers during the PT era and today rather than content.
It’s hard to pin down what exactly was the first “event” trailer but I’d have to say on a smaller level, it was probably 1996’s “Independence Day.” The internet was too slow and poky for that kind of video so it was mostly a theatrical thing but the trailer quickly became a must-see in anticipation of the summer alien invasion film.
Following that was perhaps the second “event” trailer, this time for the Star Wars Special Editions. The first one was attached with some prints of “Independence Day” and it quickly became a hunt to find which theaters were showing it. A second trailer (or maybe it was the same one, who knows) was released in the fall of 1996 on a more widespread basis. Again it was mostly a theatrical experience because of internet limits of the time. I remember paying to see “First Contact,” “Space Jam,” and “Jingle All The Way” just to catch the trailer more than once.
But it was all nothing compared to the debut of the first TPM trailer in November 1998. If ID4 and the Special Editions made trailers must-sees, TPM permanently made trailers as big a deal as the movies themselves. While many fans paid to see the trailer at a movie theater, many others spent an hour or so downloading it at home. It set a record for the number of downloads at the time and if that wasn’t enough, just about every media outlet you can think of showed it at least once. It made news all over the world. When TPM’s second trailer debuted in March 1999, I watched it online first and then I saw it on t.v. several times thereafter. AOTC had a short teaser, an internet only trailer (that you had to unlock with a TPM DVD), and two other theatrical trailers, one of which debuted on t.v. during Fox’s Sunday night lineup. ROTS’s trailers were also all over the internet and the media. Its second trailer debuted during a broadcast of “The O.C..”
Trailers once had no fanfare and were made on the cheap. Now they are flashy productions with announced debut dates and social media buzz. People don’t have to buy movie tickets anymore to see trailers; now they expect not to. TFA built up on the strategies first launched with TPM. Its first teaser trailer in November 2014 debuted online the same day it was supposed to debut in theaters and it was shown on every broadcast outlet worldwide. Its second trailer in April 2015 debuted at Celebration Anaheim but was put on the internet and shown on t.v. all over the world just moments later. Its third trailer debuted a week ago during Monday Night Football and was shortly thereafter put on the internet. Lucasfilm claimed that 16 million viewers caught it on ESPN and online, it was viewed 112 million times within 24 hours of its debut. See, now they’re putting out press releases after the trailers too! But it shows that greatly improved internet capabilities, outlets like YouTube, and the availability of video on social media can allow the experience to be just as good on your device of choice as on your television. It also lets you watch it over and over and over with relative ease.
Tags: Then and Now