We haven’t seen much of it so far, but apparently nine minutes of J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek Into Darkness will be shown next month before Imax screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in the States.
And while Imax Filmed Entertainment president Greg Foster might well be right in saying that “the footage is absolutely incredible”, I’m not so sure this latest development in the way that Hollywood hypes its films is anything to celebrate.
This year we’ve seen movie ad campaigns ratcheted up to an insane degree, with studios behind the likes of Skyfall, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus all releasing huge chunks of their movies online prior to them going on general release.
Of course, this isn’t usually done all at once – no, these campaigns rely on a drip-drip method of gradually feeding the audience titbits of the film over a period of weeks until they’re so emotionally involved that they just have to buy a ticket to get some closure.
If you’re a casual movie fan, you mightn’t even notice just how much of a film you’ve seen before heading out to your local multiplex, but it’s often more than you think.
The best example of this in recent memory is probably The Amazing Spider-Man, a film with an ad campaign so ridiculous that a fan edited together all the different scenes from its extended trailers, TV spots, international teasers and viral videos together into an eyebrow-raising 25-minute video called The Amazing Spider Preivew.
Considering the film is 130 minutes long, committed fans would’ve already (and possibly inadvertently), seen a fifth of the whole movie before getting anywhere near the cinema.
But, while you can choose not to watch a video on the internet, it’s not quite the same in a cinema. After all, you’re in control of your web browsing, but you’re at the mercy of the projectionist when you’re seeing a film on the big screen.
And if I go to see a movie, I don’t want to kick off the experience by having to run out of the theatre with my fingers in my ears. There’s a reason why “spoilers” is such a pejorative term, after all…
Don’t people value surprise anymore? Is familiarity really that important a component of modern entertainment? I know there have always been trailers, which provide essential snap-shots of motion pictures, but the idea of a major movie studio forcibly subjecting its customers to a needlessly-long spoiler, as in the case of Star Trek, is surely a step too far.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in this era of instant gratification, movie fans enjoy seeing vast swathes of films before they’re released. Perhaps it makes people feel like “insiders” if they’re able to quote long sections of the “new” film they’re watching verbatim after they’ve coughed up £12 to go and see it?