The following is excerpted from a conversation between myself and a major studio head who agreed to this interview only on the condition of anonymity.
First off, thank you for taking time to speak with me during what must be a busy weekend.
No problem, Bryan.
Actually, it’s “Brian.”
Oh, sorry. Wait, how did you know I spelled it wrong? We’re just talking here.
Don’t worry about it. So, I want to talk a bit about the marketing strategy behind…
[A beautiful 22-year-old Eastern European woman walks through the door wearing a black FIFA-style miniskirt and carrying a tray of waters]
This is Svetlana, my assistant. She takes care of my many needs. Beautiful, as you can see. But can’t tell a joke to save her life. It’s a real problem in this town. Would you care for some artisanal water cured by my personal aqua sommelier? We have Voss and 90H20.
Uh, which one is tastier? I only want one
Doesn’t matter. Both bottles are already open. We’ll throw out whichever you don’t want.
Isn’t California suffering through a historic drought?
[laughs uproariously] Maybe if you’re poor. Here, take the 90H20. It has hints of elderberry and birchwood. Svetlana, dumps the other bottle on the lawn outside. We don’t want to waste water. Where were we?
The marketing strategy behind the exclusive trailers studios cut for San Diego Comic-Con.
Comic-Con is a tremendous platform for debuting highly anticipated content. Our core audience comes to the show with certain expectations, and we need to ensure we deliver.
Right, and I don’t think anyone in attendance would argue with your position. However, I struggle to understand the rationale behind not releasing high-quality versions of the footage to the masses after it debuts at Comic-Con. There are, at most, 6,000 people crammed into Hall H. That’s less than 10 percent of the total number of attendees. Furthermore, those who find a way into Hall H in the morning tend to remain there for the duration, so turnover is minimal.
What’s your point?
Well, there are millions of people out there willing to push their kids down a steep hill just to watch the Deadpool or Suicide Squad trailers on a loop all weekend. You can drive 6,000 fans into a frenzy, for 10 million. What do studios have to gain by depriving an eager fanbase of this content?
If we release these trailers as soon as the panel wraps, what incentive to fans have to go to Comic-Con?
Fans don’t attend Comic-Con simply to watch previews. The experience is the main selling feature. Having the opportunity to stand within a few feet of legends, watch your favorite stars banter back and forth, and interact with other like-minded geeks is the true draw. Besides, the show sold out in 90 minutes this year. If a few fans sit next year out, a thousand others will scratch and claw to take their place.
Disagree to disagree. Besides, in almost every instance the trailers are cobbled together from preliminary footage. X-Men: Apocalypse only began principal photography a few weeks ago. Why would anyone want to see a few character shots?
Do you understand geek culture? Concept art creates boners that don’t subside in four hours. If you asked someone pining for a look at X-Men: Apocalypse if they wanted to see rough footage or wait six months for a proper trailer, they’ll look at you like there’s feces dripping down your forehead.
Actually, it’s Pa-JEYE-ba. And we’re going to have a talk about this at the next all-hands meeting, believe that.
Yeah, pronounce it the same way you do your name: Michael EYESner.
I specifically said that this interview could happen only if I was guaranteed anonymity.
Don’t worry, we’ll edit that part out.
Thanks, Mr. Burd.
[I pinch the bridge of my nose so hard the cartilage snaps, spilling blood all over the floor.]
Don’t worry. Svetlana will clean that up. It’s her pleasure. She does her best work on her knees, yaknowwhatImean?
Got it in one. Damn you’re pretty sharp.
Yeah, she does that, too.
Sure, she’ll do missionary, but have you seen dat ass? Getting on top of a girl like that is like slathering hot sauce all over some Nobu sushi.
OK, back to the topic at hand: what justification is there for showing these highly anticipated clips to a few thousand people, then refusing to officially release a high-quality copy online after the convention?
It just makes sense, Brain. Besides, these clips end up leaking anyway.
Exactly! Now we’re getting somewhere.
Not sure that we are. Why would we post crisp high-res copies of these teasers when fans are already in there recording these things on their iPhones?
Because buttcam bootlegs that look like they were shot by the Blair Witch don’t represent your product very well?
Buttcam? SVETLANA, DO YOU DO BUTTCAM?
No, no, no. Buttcam is entertainment jargon for footage surreptitiously recorded on someone’s smartphone. The resolution is like 13p, the dialogue sounds like it was delivered by Charlie Brown’s teacher, and snake with a Go-Pro on its head has a better understanding of camera angles. These videos are garbage.
Well, at least fans get to see it this way. Better than nothing.
Huh? “Nothing” isn’t the only option here. You can release HD copies of these trailers within minutes of them screening in Hall H. Or simultaneously. Or even before! Your market is not just the individuals at the San Diego Convention Center. Fans everywhere act as your unpaid marketing interns. They’ll retweet, share, email and evangelize. The Star Wars behind-the-scenes featurette — not a trailer, NOT A TRAILER; a featurette — has 5 million views in barely three days. Batman vs. Superman? Sixteen million in two days. These two films dominated coverage all weekend. Warcraft, Hateful Eight, Suicide Squad and X-Men: Apocalypse were all second fiddle.
Not true. Many sites posted detailed trailer descriptions for their readers. There’s really no difference between seeing the trailer and reading about what happens.
Those two things could in fact not be more different. Put it this way: would you rather touch your dinner, or taste it? Watch a porno, or have someone describe to you what the electrician did to the scantily clad housewife when he should have been repairing the breaker box? Video is a visual medium.
My tastebuds died in 1989 and Svetlana makes nudie flicks unnecessary. On a related note, do you know what the illiteracy rate is in this country? We’re doing our part to help the nation master reading. Far more than the black guy with the eye visor, at least.
How would the illiterate benefit from having to read a trailer description?
Hmmm, fair point. I have to go now.
This was horrible.
You’re welcome, Botox.