I was just thinking the other day about the way Warners have ben promoting Man of Steel via their trailers. This has to be one of the best recent movie marketing campaigns I can think of.
Early mystery gave way to more detailed looks, a bigger universe and revelations on casting and character and designs. The artwork was also interesting the way our first look at Superman was of him next to a bank vault prompting to us to ask what he was doing there. And of course the big question of whether Michael Shannon was in fact General Zod, which unlike Star Trek Into Darkness was well orchestrated. (Star Trek had a similar mystery but fumbled towards the end – they should have release Benedict Cumberbatch’s real identity in the final months to build up massive anticipation).
But it’s the way they presented the four key Man Of Steel trailers that really impressed me.
The first one which was attached to The Dark Knight Rises in summer 2012 and was a genuine teaser. Short and sweet with an enigmatic tone and almost art-house dreamlike visuals. Earnest, Iconic Americana, the reveal shot of Superman explaining who we’re dealing with and then closing with the “S” shield. It felt like a Terrence Malick film.
The second trailer was fullof heavy drama and depending on which version you saw came complete with a noble voiceover from either Kevin Costner or Russell Crowe. It felt weighty, sombre and deep. It looked like a Christopher Nolan film.
The third trailer (Which you can see here) was closer to what we were probably expecting from a Superman movie. A bombastic and fun trailer with hints of humour, romance, big action but enough of the class and coolness we expect from a Zack Snyder / Nolan team up. This was also the first time we heard Hans Zimmer’s score and it was a suitably rousing and optimistic soundtrack for a trailer that upped the ante big time.
Although there were more hints of the scale of the action with each trailer, the first three promos were still relatively light on the big, big action audiences now expect from summer tentpoles. But Warners were saving their big guns for last. The forth trailer was action packed – filled with expensive looking CG and huge scale set pieces that looked to rival the likes of Avengers and Transformers. It proved this was undoubtedly Zack Snyder film.
Now of course studios tend to save the more action-y trailers closer to the release date – simple because most of the time CG isn’t ready until closer to release date. But rather than just rehashing the same trailer each time, Warner presented us with four different promos that each had a different tone and style.
This allowed the film to appeal to a bigger audience with each one allowing different fans to find something they could latch on to and anticipate. And by keeping the trailers tonally distinct it allowed each to deliver its message with clarity.
And judging by the early performance at the box office – it looks like they worked!
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