Last Friday I received an email from 20th Century Fox whose subject heading contained the words "world premiere" and "Ridley Scott's Prometheus". I couldn't wait to open it. After all, this is the hotly-anticipated prequel to Alien, due in cinemas on June 1, and I assumed it was my invite to the first screening.
(To be precise, it's not an official prequel, although it contains "strand's of Alien's DNA" according to Scott, and it's certainly set in the same universe and before the events of the first Alien film, with an advanced extraterrestrial civilisation at its heart.)
My heart sank when I scrolled down the email, whose subject line, had I read it properly, actually said, "World Premiere of Ridley Scott's Prometheus Trailer."
I'd seen a brief, impressionistic trailer already, thrilled enough to see the spaced-apart letters of Prometheus emerge from abstract geometrical shapes, alluding to Alien, whose typography appeared in an identical fashion. I mean, seriously - it's directed by Ridley Scott, it's about a spaceship landing on a dark planet and discovering something, it has a cast to die for (Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Rafe Spall, Sean Harris, Benedict Wong), and ... well, let's face it, I'm the target audience.
They had me at "Prometheus."
That's not enough though, is it? Not in these media-saturated times. Just packing in the old fans is not sufficient. This is an expensive film, being simultaneously released in 3D and at IMAX screens, and there's a lot at stake. Fox will be hoping for a certificate that maximises its potential audience, so I doubt it'll be an 18 (the 1979 Alien was an X). In the meantime - it's yet to be classified - they're leaving nothing to chance, no viral marketing opportunity unturned.
After a shoot that was shrouded in secrecy, the studio started building the hype at last summer's Comic-Con convention in San Diego, snowballing it through teaser ads, specially-made online videos and strategically drip-fed stills. Scott himself introduced the first trailer at a cinema in California in March, footage of which was streamed via the internet. (Hey, Alfred Hitchcock used to appear in trailers for his films - famously, Psycho - so maybe this is nothing new.)
The trailer I'd been alerted to by email premiered during the first ad-break of Sunday night's penultimate episode of keenly-watched US thriller Homeland on Channel 4, with viewers encouraged to "interact with this exclusive reveal by sharing their thoughts via Twitter using the hashtag #areyouseeingthis". Some of these pithy "thoughts" were shown during a subsequent ad-break.
It's all a bit unnecessary. I actually switched over during the trailer, as it was giving way too much away. But that's always the way with trailers, isn't it? I'm all for interaction and democracy, but I couldn't care less what other people thought of a film trailer. It's a trailer! An advert which was actually advertised; hype that was hyped.
It's Prometheus. I'll be first in the queue on June 1. Leave me alone.
That episode of Homeland was good, though, wasn't it? Didn't see that coming.