The Problem With Early Impressions of Movies

The Problem With Early Impressions of Movies

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Everyone has heard this phrase at some point in their life but it can equally be applied to most films nowadays. In the ever evolving world of social media, the internet and human curiosity early impressions of films are common, whether it’s a trailer put out before the film has even been made, a poster, a still picture or even on-set recordings. Potential audience members, particularly those who have a significant online presence, tend to gather as much information as possible on a film before its release even to the detriment of their own enjoyment of a film.


Those who are more vocal about their opinions on the internet voice their concerns with a movie based on a picture or early trailer. While their opinion is valid these people should take into consideration that these early impressions are not a complete view of the film. Stills and posters are given out and placed online to generate buzz and excitement about an upcoming film. At most they will show you who is in the film, when it will hit theaters and possibly a hint as to the tone of the film. However, in a world where everybody has the news at their fingertips, people react. They jump to snap conclusions about that film, whether it’s the choice of cast, an outfit or costume and even whether said film will be worth watching or not. At San Diego Comic Con this year, hundreds upon hundreds of people will have been subjected to early impressions, handed posters and shown early or test footage. This is not necessarily a bad thing, after all it’s what many fans go to see at Comic Con in the first place. Nevertheless, this early content is over analyzed by fans and critics of the industry in general, way too much. It leads to snap judgements or early impressions and can not only damage a film’s reputation but also decrease enthusiasm for it. It would be much more apt to read a review, a synopsis or ask your friends if a film is worth watching or not WHEN it is released rather than piecing together what you imagine the film may look like in a month or even several years time.


The Problem With Early Impressions of Movies

This early look of Ben Affleck as Batman led to much speculation and comment online


The main problem with early trailers is that they can be misleading. Again the intention of the studio is to generate excitement for the upcoming film. Early trailers though do not give a complete picture. Some trailers have been known to show scenes which didn’t make the final cut in the editing room. Others show what one part of the film is like, while the rest of the film may be completely different in tone or direction which can be true of later or final trailers too. Some have incomplete special effects that have yet to be added or little touches which will improve whats on-screen. Nowadays, a trailer can show too much, either spoiling major plot points or making you feel like you’ve just seen the film in two minutes. Overall, people place too much emphasis on early trailers.


It’s not all down to audience members though. Studios are guilty too of goading people into early impressions. The recent worrying trend of pre-trailers, a trailer to let you know when the full trailer is coming, is becoming more and more common. Studios and filmmakers often release this content to gauge reception to a given project. They even estimate how much money the prospective film can make, what works and what needs to change. Again, this is not representative of the final audience, the studio here is jumping to an early judgement of who will go see their movie. They also promote films too early, especially the big studios. Take Marvel for example, who at this year’s SDCC promoted The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, which has many hardcore fans wanting as much information as possible. They brought the cast out during their panel and did press interviews. The problem is that the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo could not answer any of the questions they were given, they simply couldn’t reveal much about the movie as it isn’t being released till 2015. Warner Bros and DC had a little more tact in that they brought Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot out on stage when promoting Batman vs Superman but didn’t allow interviews. Instead they showed off some early footage and Wonder Woman’s costume. This in itself was enough to get fans excited but also inevitably led to snap judgements about the film. This is problematic for a film that won’t release for another two years.


I’m not naive. The digital age is not going away anytime soon and I believe it has been both negative and positive for the film industry. My advice to fans of a movie who are excited about it is to be cautious when consuming early content. By all means, watch trailers, look at stills and speculate about what the film may be like. But remember, that until a film is released, early impressions will always be speculative, and while not altogether useless, can be harmful to your enjoyment of a film. After all, if the film isn’t enjoyable what’s the point?


What do you think of early content? Do you enjoy early trailers and stills? Have they ever misled you about a movie?

Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading.

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