30 Apr 2017

The Media Blackout


There's a film soon to be released that looks great. You're desperate to see it. It stars Matt Damon or Jennifer Lawrence or Benedict Cinderblock or whatever. David Fincher directing. Hans Zimmer composing. You're usually a patient person, but you consume all pre-release media in the hopes it will satisfy you until the big day. The interviews, the trailers, the press releases. It then rolls around and you rush off to the cinema after work and buy a ticket. The curtains open and the film begins. Over the next two hours, you begin to realise this wasn't as good as you hoped. Sure, it's interesting enough. Good performances and stellar writing, but there's something missing. An element of surprise, like you've already seen this somewhere before. You've spoiled yourself. Your obsession with the media surrounding the picture has lessened experience.

At what point is it worth taking a "media blackout" on a certain film? When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice released in cinemas last year, many people noted how the trailers had given away all the best shots and major plot points. If you didn't see the trailers, it may have been different. The problem was most filmgoers had gone in having already seen at least one trailer. For a large percentage of the audience, an aspect of familiarity was already at play before the title card had even begun.

I first went "trailerblind" during the release of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar back in 2014. I was beginning to feel that trailers served as nothing more than hype machines. Rather than teasing the film, companies would instead pack its best moments into 3 minutes and that would be the end of it. Interstellar ended up being a cracking film (save for the last twenty minutes that let it down), and I think the experience was a lot more fun having not seen any trailers. Sometimes they can even spoil the drama. If a character dies in the film but you remember a shot of them from the trailer that hadn't been shown yet, you'd guess that character's death was actually a fake-out. For me, just seeing a name like "Christopher Nolan" attached to the project was enough to bring me aboard. 

The Fate of the Furious also had trailers that spoiled all its best moments.
It's the same for a lot of other big names. I don't need to see a Star Wars trailer, because I'm already hyped. I'll be there at the cinema. Don't show me a trailer, I don't need one! Are you going to release a film with Dwayne Johnson or Tom Cruise? Again, no need. Those two actors have enough fun making the movies that I'll go see it anyway.

I barely watch them now anyway, apart from when I'm forced to see them in the cinema. I think that taking a media blackout for certain things you're excited about can enhance the experience. Next time you see a trailer release for something you're already excited about, just stop and think. Will watching the trailer make things better or worse? I'm not going to tell you what to do, but my experience of avoiding pre-release media has made the film-viewing experience much better.

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