The movie Prometheus from Ridley Scott (Director of “Alien” and “Bladerunner”, amongst many others) is about to be released in the US and Australia (I believe it’s already showing in Europe).
I confess that I have been eagerly looking forward to this ever since I heard about the project. “Alien” and “Bladerunner” are among my favourite movies. In those movies Scott conjured up astonishing “alternate” worlds as a backdrop to the stories and in “Prometheus” we get to revisit the “Alien” universe.
Now, to recap for newer readers, my objective in the “Marketing and Movie Trailers” posts is to take a look at what Hollywood’s finest have to offer and see what tips we can glean in scripting our own marketing videos.
The trailers for Scott’s movies should be helpful because Scott himself has a lot of experience in making advertisements (for example, he directed the Apple “1984” commercial). Given Scott’s obsessive attention to detail it’s hard to imagine that he isn’t involved in the trailers.
What’s also of interest for marketers is the build up to the release. It’s not uncommon for studios to build up a movie release by making it an “event”. In most cases, this is little more than advance notices and the trailers. But with “Prometheus” there has been much more a buildup.
Not only is there the main movie site with news, clips and other content…
…but there’s a separate site about Weyland Industries, the corporation at the heart of the “Alien” stories.
What’s remarkable to me is how far they’ve gone in fleshing out the back story to the movie and the detail of the alternate world that’s been created. Check out, for example, the “Peter Weyland TED Talk”…
…and this somewhat creepy ad for the “David 8” android (have to say, I really like Michael Fassbender as an actor).
In effect, what’s going on here is a kind of product launch. It’s building up anticipation and engaging the audience with content. Worth looking closely and seeing what ideas might come up that you can use in your own product launches.
Of course, all of this content can be reused! No doubt much of it will appear in “Special Edition” versions of the movie.
So to the trailer itself…but which one? There are a number of different versions. For the purposes of this review, I’ve picked the “Prometheus – Official Full Trailer”.
Now, with a movie like “Prometheus” which is a follow on from another movie (“Alien” in this case) there are two groups in the potential audience – those who are fans of the earlier movie and those who don’t necessarily know about it.
For the “fans”, the selling task is easier. What will drive them is the promise that more will be revealed about the unanswered questions in the first movie (for example, where did the “Space Jockey” come from and how did he meet his grisly fate?) along with more of what they loved before.
For the second group, it’s more challenging. Sure, they might be aware of the buildup and all the hooplah about the original, but the task is to convince them from scratch to see the new movie.
Although I’m firmly in the first group, in this assessment I’ll aim to see how well the trailer performs in convincing the second group.
A – Attention
We start off with some spooky atmospherics that pretty quickly gets into the attention grabbing “Big spaceships” spectacle. The visuals are gorgeous as you might expect. The centrepiece of this open, however, is the somewhat enigmatic “Every King…” statement, that flags something bad is going to happen…but it’s not obvious what it’s got to do with the movie.
Arguably, a statement like that which is a little confusing and provokes curiosity (“Huh? What’s that all about?!?”) will be effective at drawing people in. For a mass-market movie trailer, I’m not so sure. It’s too subtle, which is probably why they have produced some alternative trailers.
I like the “Prometheus has landed” touch that concludes the opening section.
On balance, OK but not great.
Score – 1.5
I – Interest
OK, here’s where the story gets filled in and we find out more about what this is all about. It’s a similar theme to Erich von Daniken’s “Chariots Of The Gods” idea that extraterrestrials visited the Earth and influenced early human civilisations. The mystery is where did they come from? The Prometheus project is, in essence, a “Quest” story (of the “There and back” variety, although in some of the trailers there’s a suggestion of an alternate agenda in play).
The idea of extraterrestrial life might be controversial, but there’s no doubt the idea fascinates people. So, it’s a pretty good plot for a movie.
Score – 2.0
D – Desire
OK, this is where the pace picks up and the “big guns” come out. Cue the scary music building to a crescendo and a whole collection of dramatic shots! We are very definitely back to the “Haunted House” scenario of the original “Alien” movie.
This is a fairly typical “Big Picture” sequence, but well done, and does a pretty good job. Sure, they’ve set out their stall and there’s not too much curiosity involved (we kind of know what’s going to happen, it’s more a question of who is going to escape, how exactly is the world saved and does that creepy android meet a richly deserved, grisly end?). BUT we know there’s a demand for this kind of movie and I think this will get people’s interest.
Score – 2.5
Bonus Mark – For the production and gorgeous visuals, 1.0
Total – 7.0
Only an average ranking, saved by the bonus mark. I’ve no doubt this movie will do well, simply based on the “buzz” that’s been built and that thousands of “fan boys” like me are salivating over the release and will probably see it several times. But, the trailer only does an adequate job, methinks.
Here’s an alternative trailer, the “NEW Prometheus International Trailer”.
This is much more direct and goes straight for the “Alien Space Horror” jugular. Ridley Scott probably hates it but I suspect they decided to go with a standard “blockbuster” formula. Any way, see what you think…
…and I’d love to get your comments and feedback.