Why teaser trailers are dominating the fan experience
If you're a die-hard fan of the Netflix smash "Stranger Things," you might have ridden a roller coaster of emotions on Monday.
It probably went like this: You saw there was a YouTube clip going around about the third season of the show, so you excitedly clicked on it. Rather than see any footage - or even learn the season's release date - you instead watched several phrases such as "Suzie, Do You Copy?" and "The Battle of Starcourt" appear over the show's title page while its theme music played. These are likely episode titles, which might excite some fans. But overall, this was no trailer.
No, it was a teaser trailer - a method of getting fans hyped for the trailer, an ad for the ad for the movie. Teasers - generally in video clip or poster form - have become far more popular in social media age, and they're changing how fans consume media.
The purpose, of course, is to keep the project in an audience's mind as a means of building anticipation.
Things have reached the point that the trailer for every massive project is preceded by a lengthy, drawn-out teaser campaign.
Take "Game of Thrones," for example. The show's final season will air in April 2019. So, naturally, we already have a teaser trailer that simply shows . . . a dragon, some fire and some ice. Meanwhile, promotional posters for the new season just show notable scenes from the program's seven-season run.
"We live in a trailer economy," cultural critic Andy Greenwald said on a recent episode "The Watch" podcast. "The fact that they are releasing this much non-footage now speaks to how much HBO is aware of how culture works in 2018, going into 2019."
That's just how things work these days.. And sometimes, when crafted with specific intention, they work exceedingly well.
Take Disney's live-action remake of "The Lion King" that's coming out at the end of next September. The company dropped a teaser trailer showing a nearly shot-for-shot remake of the iconic opening from the original, animated film.
Twitter was alight with excitement, and some users immediately began comparing the new film to the old one. The ability to make the comparisons, using stills from both, so quickly - not to mention the ability to disseminate it immediately - did not exist when the original film came out. And it shows just how powerful teasers have become.
Make no mistake: Teaser trailers aren't new. Some films most iconic moments were first captured in quick teasers shown on television or before the movies.
But while teasers have always existed, it wasn't possible - at least, it wasn't easy - to watch them on repeat in a desperate search for clues, for some bit of foreshadowing. Now, spending absurd amount of time with teasers has become as much a part of the normal fan experience as actually watching the movie or the show - one that's not going anywhere.
Whether this trend is exciting or distressing depends on your personal constitution (and on how much you like arguing about movies on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit). It's also merely another example of how pop culture permeates our lives in the digital era.
And in case you missed it, Netflix also released teaser trailer for their upcoming show "The Umbrella Academy," starring Mary J Blidge and Ellen Page on Saturday, and the first teaser poster for the Sonic movie dropped on Monday.