Marketing Madness

Back in the winter of 1998, LucasFilm debuted the first trailer for the Star Wars prequels. Hundreds of Star Wars fans bought $8 tickets for movies and then left the theater after seeing the trailer before the movie even started. Since that time, cool trailers have become a staple of the Star Wars series.

Yet The Phantom Menace had tarnished the image of the saga. The hype for Attack of the Clones is no where near the level it was for Episode I. It seems the use of trailers this time around would not only be to show fans what they were in store for, but to also rejuvenate the buzz.

The first trailer for the prequel-sequel, titled "Breathing," premiered with Monsters Inc. The teaser was very short and featured no dialogue and very little music. Instead, the teaser featured quick glimpses of different scenes with Vader's trademark breath playing being played in the background. The teaser was only well received by Star Wars fans and not much by the general public. After all, this was only a glimpse. No one likes a glimpse, especially one as small as this.

The second trailer, "Mystery," debuted as an exclusive to the Internet via TPM's DVD. This trailer, which detailed one of the subplots (the attempt to assassinate Padme) gained much more attention. However, being a DVD exclusive, the trailer mainly attracted only Star Wars fans.

Thus, the third trailer, "Forbidden Love," was released in theaters on November 16 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. This trailer is said by most to be close to perfection. It detailed the developing relationship of Anakin and Padme. With the love theme from Empire Strikes Back, the trailer made the gigantic action film have a feminine appeal, like that of Titanic.

So was the marketing campaign a success? Look at Harry Knowles over at Ain't It Cool News. In regards to the "Breathing" trailer, Knowles said "Prior to this trailer, my excitement level for Episode II was fairly in check. This weekend I finally sat down to watch the Episode I DVD, and while I still enjoy that film, I really do agree with those that feel that it doesn't feel to terribly much like Star Wars. This trailer does." According to Reuters, traffic to the Star Wars website increased 115% in a single week because of the trailers.

Then why is it the hype is still so low compared to three years ago? It would seem not even the trailers can actually completely revive that. But they're definitely a step in the right direction.

Nate Raymond

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Star Wars and all related elements are copyright LucasFilm. All other material copyright of Nate Raymond.