It is one of the great mysteries of the Comic-Con. Studios create first-look videos with footage of movies fans want to see. The studios show that footage to the lucky few who can afford to make it to Comic-Con (or are paid to be there). And then they spend time making sure no one else sees the footage.
As an example, every year the creators of “Smallville” create a trailer for the upcoming season and show it at Comic-Con. Those in attendance describe it and post their descriptions online. “Smallville” fans then spend time searching for the least terrible version they can find of what was shown (typically captured by a camera phone or some other such device). The fans tell each other where to find the videos, searching for the best version, while the studio works to get the video off the web.
Now, some may say, “By making it impossible to see the video, they get people talking. Look at all of the people who want to see it.” And I will grant that, but by and large, those who are searching for the videos are the die-hards. They are the ones who would literally take the option of going to sleep now and waking up in time for the new season’s premiere because they can’t wait. But they aren’t the ones the studios need to reach. “Watchmen” proved a comic book movie needs to reach past the die-hards. And a movie like “Thor” needs all of the marketing it can get. Sure, it has a well-known cast (including Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Stellan Skarsgard and Idris Elba) and a well-regarded director (Kenneth Branagh), but how many non-comic book fans know who “Thor” is?
A trailer like the one shown at Comic-Con (and embedded below — for now) would do wonders for getting the word out about “Thor.” But the studio persists in trying to make sure you don’t see it. And that is what I don’t understand. What kind of a business tries to make sure only a very select few can view a commercial for its product.
Starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, “Thor” is slated to hit theaters May 6, 2011.
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