Most of us are probably familiar with movie trailers. We see them on the Internet, before a movie in theaters themselves, and sometimes even on TV. However, sometimes we see them before we are supposed to. While the studio may be unhappy about not showing any trailers on their time, this can actually be beneficial.
In order to understand why leaked trailers are a good thing, we must first understand the history of movie trailers. When movies first became viewable to the public, there were no trailers. Someone would simply read about a new movie in a newspaper, or even not at all. However, that changed around the mid 1910’s. Studios began to see that marketing their movie beforehand, even if it was just basic text with information such as the cast, could be viable and lead to more people paying for a finished product. Eventually, studios began using actual film from the movie, much like today.
Once the age of blockbusters began with Jaws and Star Wars in the 1970’s, trailers became much more modern, with sound, some plot reveals, and even fight scenes, if they were in a movie. Now, movie trailers are released on the Internet sometimes days before you can see a trailer in a movie theater. Even some movies feature clips beforehand of upcoming films, such as when Jurassic World IMAX showings had a preview of the film Ant Man.
Of course, the Internet changed everything. One of the earliest movie trailers was for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. This was in the late 1990’s, so it was on dial-up connection speeds, meaning fans of the upcoming movie would have to wait a long time and watch the trailer in low quality once the connection succeeded. There was no viable way you could watch a trailer instantly like today, especially not in HD. Technology simply wasn’t there yet. While we today can go to a site like YouTube and watch trailers for Star Wars, James Bond, and other films, there was no one central location back then.
Naturally, the Internet played a hand in other processes of filmmaking too. Now fans of movies can possibly get early scripts of upcoming films, such as with the upcoming James Bond: Spectre film due to the Sony hack of 2014. Set photos can be seen early, such as with drone shots of Star Wars: Episode 7 and fans filming what would become scenes in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But recently, another phenomenon started to occur more often. Movie trailers would get leaked before the official release date set by the studio.
This has happened quite a bit last year. The first trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron was supposed to air on its companion T.V. show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But someone who was working on the trailer at Marvel Studios leaked the trailer to the Internet one week early. The Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice trailer was leaked to the Internet nearly a week early as well. But the leaking of test footage for a Deadpool movie was leaked in mid-2014 is what really kicked it into high gear.
The footage was a scene the studio had made years earlier in order to see if they could make an actual movie, and was never designed to be seen anywhere but to people in charge of 20th Century Fox. Somehow, the footage made its way to the Internet and even though Fox wanted the footage offline, it wouldn’t go away. Eventually, due to fan demands, Fox decided to make an actual film, the trailer of which can be seen online now, three weeks after it was, again, leaked.
The single fact that leaked footage created an official movie is powerful. Even though the test footage to Deadpool was never meant to be seen by the public, 20th Century Fox’s response to fan’s loving of the footage made the film official and it is now in production to be released in February 2016. If no footage had been leaked to the Internet, it’s highly unlikely that a Deadpool film would be in production at all. While there are millions of Deadpool fans across the globe, it’s unlikely 20th Century Fox would want to invest time and money into making a film that might not be desired at all. If a studio chooses to make a movie and it is not well-received with fans, such as the new Fantastic Four reboot by Fox, that can drastically hurt any profits a studio seeks to gain.
This is why leaked trailer and footage can be a good thing. Without the leaked footage of Deadpool, fans might not be seeing that film. Because of the leak, the Age of Ultron trailer became one of the highest-viewed of 2014, even though it was released in late October. While a trailer might make studios unhappy, it could make them very profitable in the long run.
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- Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” – Teaser Trailer (OFFICIAL). (2014, October 20). Retrieved August 10, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmeOjFno6Do
- Polo, S. (2015, July 13). Comic-Con makes everyone a pirate: The ‘problem’ of leaked trailers. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://www.polygon.com/2015/7/13/8948469/leaked-comic-con-trailers
- Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace – Teaser Trailer. (2008, December 2). Retrieved August 10, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo5PYJvAAMI
- The History of the Movie Trailer. (n.d.). Retrieved August 9, 2015, from http://filmmakeriq.com/2014/03/the-history-of-the-movie-trailer/