I had seen a few episodes of the original Jem cartoon years ago when it was packaged with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon on USA Network. So I’m familiar with the basic premise of Jem. The first trailer….was not Jem.
I understood what the movie was trying to show us, that instead of the lead singer being the result of high-tech projection software that the story is about the girls being transformed by music producers into metaphorical holograms to sell more music. The movie kind of promises glammer, glitter, fashion, and fame, but shunts all of those in favor of a more heart-warming message. A message that the internet seems to have hated because they were expecting…well, Jem.
One of the film’s leads, Stefanie Scott, then told Superherohype to not judge the movie based on the trailer. I know times change and I’m a leftover relic from the ’90s but that’s exactly the purpose of a movie trailer! That’s like saying don’t judge a movie based on it’s synopsis or the cast. Back to the Future‘s synopsis is: A young man is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, and must make sure his high-school-age parents unite in order to save his own existence. But don’t judge a movie based on its plot. Is this real life?
Naturally, the internet and I seemed to have similar feelings towards this folly of a first look (which may actually not be a good thing now that I think about it), but does that really matter? Presumably this movie will have multiple trailers, a short sneak peek, screen shots, frequent news articles with nuggets of information, news about studio backpedaling, ad nauseam. Any movie with this much production is going to get the full-court press for publicity. Lets be honest, no one was going to view this trailer and use that as their barometer to whether they were going to see this movie; you were either in from the get go or out. Since most blockbusters tend to possess this dichotomy, is there really any point to a movie trailer?
Try to imagine a time when there was no internet (or highly inaccessible and perhaps also not nearly as pervasive). I struggle trying to remember what life was like without the internet in my pocket. Anyway, in such archaic times as those, the movie trailer was largely the deciding factor to go see a movie or not. Even when movie tickets cost less than a large bucket of popcorn, there needed to be something besides the short blurb in the local newspaper that would create each persons hierarchy of cinematic choices. To up the ante, the home video market was growing exponentially during my pop culture formative years (and the local theater closed) which meant that home video served as a suitable alternative. At least then you had the box art to guide you! Plus even home release had commercials to notify the potential consumer that a movie was being available on home video.
Movies released in the current market that aren’t art house flicks will stamp out many different forms of PR. A trailer at this point is the genesis but perhaps the least important as it will most likely be supplanted by previously released set-photos, plot leaks, confirmed sequels, a large back catalog of comics or television shows, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more. If the reception to a movie trailer better correlated with a movie’s performance then perhaps there might be more TLC packed into the first two minutes we officially see from the “finished” product. Unfortunately, the movie trailer serves mostly as the official ribbon cutting to the PR juggernaut about to unfold, which includes the usual internet critique from trolls and vloggers, handing off to some sort of retort from the studios, all of which may cycle a few times up until launch.
Maybe Stefanie Scott was right when she suggested not judging Jem and the Holograms based solely on the first trailer. By the time the movie actually releases we would have, by combination of all advertisements, have seen over half of the movie anyway. Why bother with a drop in the bucket like a two-minute trailer that apparently doesn’t even tell us what the movie is about?
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