Was 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Worth Seeing in Theaters?
by Ethan Anderton
November 28, 2014
When Disney announced that the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was arriving in theaters this weekend, but only in 30 movie theaters across the country, there were plenty of fans who were annoyed. Perhaps sensing some backlash, Disney still ended up releasing the trailer this morning, only adding to the Black Friday madness that always follows Thanksgiving. However, for fans like me, a trip to the nearest movie theater playing the trailer was still in order. But now that we've all seen the first trailer, the question is whether or not seeing the trailer on the big screen was worth the trip to the movie theater.
The answer is yes and no. On the positive side of things, seeing the trailer on the big screen is exactly the way director J.J. Abrams wanted fans to experience this first look at Episode VII. And there really is nothing like hearing and seeing the Millennium Falcon soar across the big screen for the first time since 1997 (that's when the Special Edition releases of the Star Wars trilogy were in theaters). For a huge Star Wars fan like myself, this was always going to be worth getting up in the morning, driving 45 minutes to Chicago on the busiest shopping day of the year, and waiting outside the theater in the Windy City cold for a half hour to be the first inside to catch the premiere showing of this trailer.
And because I'm a massive Star Wars fan, as soon as the trailer was finished, I jumped up and went to three other movies that had started in five minute intervals after mine and caught the trailer three more times, every single time with a huge grin on my face. The trailer doesn't show much, but the glimpse of the new characters, the X-Wings zooming across a large body of water, that new broad sword lightsaber, our first look at John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, that weird little soccer ball droid. This was all so wondrous and new, and this is likely the last time we'll have this feeling, because after this movie, we'll already have a grasp on what may come in the sequel, at least much more than we do right now. This truly was magical.
And while this was 88-seconds of pure bliss, unfortunately, it was the same bliss everyone else got on their computers, phones and tablets this morning from the comforts of their own home. Though there were rumors that those seeing the trailer in theaters might get a longer cut, that simply wasn't the case. This was the same trailer that hit the web anywhere between a few minutes and an entire hour before many in the United States were able to see it in theaters. You might think that it's my own (and others like me) fault for making this choice to partake in the seemingly unnecessary theatrical experience when I didn't have to. For the most part, you're probably right. But I just don't understand why it happened like this.
Despite my own personal joy (which in some ways is all that really matters), there was nothing special about this experience, and that's more unfortunate than anything. The exclusivity of this trailer in theaters this weekend was rendered pretty much pointless when it was revealed to be coming online the same day. In fact, Disney actually made it much more difficult for the biggest fans of Star Wars to see the trailer in the best possible format, the way a trailer like this should be experienced. Disney didn't go out of their way at all to make this a memorable experience beyond just seeing this footage for the first time, which was going to be something everyone was excited about no matter what.
There's no doubt that Disney released the trailer this morning in order to avoid any bootleg, recorded copies hitting the web. But if they were going to do that anyway, again I'm wondering why they limited the trailer's release to only 30 theaters around the country. If the timed release of the online debut of the trailer preceded most of the showings of the trailer in theaters, why not just show it on as many screens as possible this weekend instead of making it more difficult to catch in theaters? It just doesn't make sense. Sure, people who went to theaters, like myself, got to see it on the big screen first, but they couldn't have had an extra 15 seconds of footage just as a reward for heading out to movie theaters to see the trailer? Even some kind of free mini poster would have been a nice touch.
Instead, the trailer release in theaters was treated as a non-event, and was only truly exciting amongst the dozen or so fans who showed up at the earliest showings of Big Hero 6 this morning in Chicago and were able to discuss it with their friends. For me, that's pretty much enough. I'm happy that I saw the trailer on the big screen for myself this weekend, but that doesn't stop me from thinking Disney should have done a much better job of making this trailer release more worthwhile for all of those hardcore fans who showed up to theaters this morning instead of just sitting in front of their computer like any other ole day of the week. Did you see the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer in theaters? What's your take on this?