Thursday, December 4, 2014

Star Wars: The Advertising Awakens

The big news this past week was the release of the first Star Wars: Episode VII teaser. For the two people who haven't seen it or for anyone who wishes to watch it again here it is:
Within hours of its release, minutes even, speculation and strong opinions were flying. Complaining drooling, attacks and parodies...every aspect of internet reaction to new content was present. Personally, I was thrilled to see some footage so early, but as time went by, I started to become more interested in analyzing people's hyperbolic reactions than analyzing the trailer itself. The theories ranged from reasonable to outlandish and the conclusions people were jumping to were nothing short of hilarious. Whether the comments come out of enthusiasm or derision, I think everyone's going a little crazy about this and we all need to take a breath and really consider what it is we're looking at.
First of all, let me just say that I've been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid, so while I have become detached from the series in the past few years, the announcement of a new film (several, actually) is definitely a source of excitement. At the same time, I'm reigning my feelings in and not allowing myself to be swayed too much by the new footage. I certainly liked it, but it doesn't assure anything.

Most important to realize here is that this trailer is a gift (or at least that's how I'm considering it). This early on, I didn't expect anything from the marketing department. Principal photography ended only a month ago, so the fact that anything is ready (most surprisingly a couple of VFX shots) should be seen as miraculous. Also, this is a in meant to tease. There are only 11 shots in the whole thing and how anyone can make broad generalizations from that is amazing to me. We get a slight feel for the tone and visual style, but nothing more. It's a great teaser precisely because it only gives us that small taste without hinting any plot strands. It whets the appetite, provides some nostalgia and stirs up buzz. And man, is there buzz...
The last Star Wars film was released nine years ago and in that time social media and the nature of the internet has changed, radically shifting the way people engage with such early marketing for hyped films. I remember the excitement for Revenge of the Sith, but it's nothing compared to what I've seen this past week. Various articles and blogposts (just like this one) have been written, breaking it down shot by shot. Memes have been created, trailer re-cuts have been done, a couple new fan posters (like the one above) based on the imagery of the teaser have been made...hell, a guy got a tattoo of the little soccer ball droid (a droid that is likely an insignificant element in the film- I wouldn't be surprised if it was some transition piece that ended up getting cut). Being Star Wars, the most beloved film series of all time (a subjective statement, but you know it's true), I can't blame people for buying into the hype. At the end of the day, folks are just having fun with it, which is exactly what JJ Abrams intended, I'm sure. It'll make over a billion dollars easily next year and toy sales will be just as impressive, but until then, we'll just have to wait for that second trailer to drop. Take your time, Disney, what you just delivered is more than enough to satisfy this fan for months.

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