When you walk into a blockbuster movie in the present day, I think it is fair to say, we are not going in waiting to be as shocked and surprised like we used to. Most of the time a film’s trailers will give away large amounts of information, sometimes to the extent where the entire plot is revealed. From there each frame from trailers and sneak peaks are speculated about on message boards, blogs and social media until, if we wanted, we could all have a good idea of where the movie is going in a narrative and character sense. I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all, in fact, sometimes the anticipation and speculation outweighs the excitement derived from the actual film. What I am saying, that in this day and age the movie has to understand that a large chunk of its audience will have been exposed to its money shots and best lines of dialogue already, so instead of insulting their intelligence it’s all about embracing the predictability.
Predictability is not a bad thing, some would say it is connected with a film being boring. However, the ubiquity of a massive summer blockbuster and the marketing associated with it will not change. Jurassic World has handled this fantastically and is a great example of producing a film with the knowledge that everyone is going to have a good guess at the storyline and will have watched the trailers quite a few times.
In the last month, the marketing team behind Jurassic World has been hitting us hard. Trailers, TV Spots, merchandise, magazine covers and not to mention the app where you can build your own Jurassic World (if you have the money to buy the £40 packs of cards to play the game via in store purchasing) my point is, you know there’s a new Jurassic Park film coming out and you know the basis for the plot and have already seen the dinosaurs. Add this to the fact that a lot of people going to see this film have seen Jurassic Park I-III or at least the first one which Jurassic World mainly derives it ideas from. It all looked set up for a potential disappointment where we’ve seen it all before. But director Colin Trevorrow was probably aware that this would happen which is why he just went all out.
The best case and point would be that of the new park attraction, the hybrid dinosaur Indominus Rex. The early trailers tried to mask the appearance of this creature but with the merchandise coming out many months before in Lego form and as its design was starting to be shown online and on magazines, the cat was out the bag and from that stage you might as well show it as much as you can in the film. The Indominus is shown very early in the movie, unlike Jaws which this movie borrows from in some respects. Trevorrow mentioned in an interview these days you don’t get the luxury of just one trailer like Jaws had 40 years ago so you can keep your best secrets hidden, so, to his credit, he just went all guns blazing and it worked wonderfully. Also, the main reason the suspense was so great in Jaws was down to the mechanical shark not working and so Spielberg had no choice but to keep the shark hidden for the majority of the film.
In Jurassic World we knew the raptors we’re going to be smart and Chris Pratt was going to be their trainer, also the Mosasaur was going to play some part, as we also knew that Bryce Dallas Howard holding a flare in in front of an opening of a door can only mean one thing is coming up. The plot was massively derivative of the first film where two children, who are related to somebody very important in the running of the park are left to alone with carnivorous dinosaurs. However, it does it in a way that is still entertaining and because there isn’t the element of surprise that Jaws or the original Jurassic Park had in 1993, Jurrasic World presents us with huge amounts of action and a well written script from Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa.
This isn’t the only franchise in which the movies must up their game to survive at the box office. Although studios know that lots of people like the same thing presented, there has to be some difference, something new to keep us coming back to the cinema. Studios that have become complacent and have churned out the same rubbish all the time have suffered bad financial returns. People are not that easily fooled and many franchises have needed a reboot to survive or been destroyed completely (Terminator Salvation, Speed 2, Batman and Robin, Spiderman 3, etc.)
A studio like Marvel has to keep upping its game to create a sense of something you haven’t seen before with the huge amount of films they have produced in such a short space of time. When we had Phase One with Iron Man, 1 & 2, Thor and Captain America, that all culminated in The Avengers which was ground breaking because of the build-up and the sheer scale of the movie. Now, with Avengers: Age of Ultron, new characters are being established to give the audience something new but through marketing and the previous films we have already seen so much in the last few years. That’s why Guardians of the Galaxy was so great, because it was such an original choice of comic to adapt compared to the normal Marvel universe. Age of Ultron was a well made film but it lacked surprises and didn’t do anything special, besides establishing the vision, to remedy the overused formula.
Jurassic World is a great movie though, whether my opinions are deep seated in nostalgia is one for everyone else to determine but it was so great to go into a movie in which I had seen the trailer to death and not be disappointed with the end product. I can only hope that it is the same with The Force Awakens. Although J.J Abrams does like to keep a lid on his films and not give too much away it’ll be a big ask in the world we live in now. At this moment, we’ll just have to speculate.