This morning we all woke up to a nice little surprise: the full, HD trailer for Suicide Squad from Comic Con. It was shown exclusively to Comic Con attendees on Saturday, and now it has been released to the general public. The truth behind the trailer's release is a sordid tale of pirate intrugue that boils down to one simple truth: you were never meant to see that trailer today.
You see, when the trailer was shown at Comic Con to a legion of internet tastemakers in the famed Hall H, it was meant to be "exclusive". Only the people who went were allowed to see it, generating loads of "social buzz" for the studio to bathe in for months before actually releasing the trailer to the public. That's the sort of thing movie studios love when it comes to event movies: hype. It's the only currency that matters. A carefully planned and executed hype cycle means that a film like Jurassic World can go from desperate-looking reboot to record-smashing blockbuster.
The hype train left the station on Saturday at the Suicide Squad panel, and attendees were given their first look at the new film. What Warner Bros didn't count on is that nerds would hold up their phones in the crowd and bootleg the trailer. That bootleg has been circulating since it was first shown at Comic Con, much to the chagrin of Warner.
Here's some of the leaked footage below:
Once something is online, it's online forever, and try as it might the studio couldn't get it taken down. So the studio released the trailer early.
Sue Kroll, Warner's president of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution took to the film's official Facebook page this morning to tell fans how much they didn't want to release the trailer today. "We regret this decision," she said, blaming trailer pirates.
Here's the full quote:
"Warner Bros. Pictures and our anti-piracy team have worked tirelessly over the last 48 hours to contain the Suicide Squad footage that was pirated from Hall H on Saturday. We have been unable to achieve that goal. Today we will release the same footage that has been illegally circulating on the web, in the form it was created and high quality with which it was intended to be enjoyed.
We regret this decision as it was our intention to keep the footage as a unique experience for the Comic Con crowd, but we cannot continue to allow the film to be represented by the poor quality of the pirated footage stolen from our presentation."
- Sue Kroll, President Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures
I'm going to call bullshit on that one. What a stupid thing to say out loud where people can see you.
The real reason that Warner Bros. Pictures didn't want to show the Suicide Squad trailer to the world today is because it costs them marketing dollars and crucial time in the news cycle. It costs them hype.
You see, showing the Suicide Squad trailer to Hall H panel participants at Comic Con is a carefully planned PR move. Get tastemakers in the audience talking about it online before releasing it, and it builds that hype. Then when the convention is over and the studio doesn't have to compete against a handful of other blockbuster superhero movies also getting attention news cycle. That means you can drop the trailer and dominate a the news coverage for a whole day on sites like ours.
By hyping the movie to tastemakers while simultaneously dropping the trailer for the film, it costs you hype dollars. The first trailer is the most important, and Warner Bros has blown its powder months before the release of the film. By the time it comes out in 2016, internet tastemakers may feel like it's too stale to bother with, and ticket sales will barely move the needle.
That's the way all big event movies are marketed these days, and it sucks. Brands are not your friends, and you need to realise that even when you're reading coverage from the Suicide Squad panel at Comic Con that you're being marketed to. It's a slimy business, and today we're watching what happens when it all goes sideways in the sausage factory of modern blockbusters.