Not again! We’re definitely psyched for Rian Johnson’s upcoming sci-fi film Looper, a twisty time-travel tale that stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt, and we’re itching to check out the teaser trailer for the movie, which is debuting online this Thursday. Alas, Sony has seen fit to already scratch our itch in the most unsatisfying way possible by releasing teasers for the teaser, the movie industry’s newest, most annoying trend. This is getting out of hand.
It all started with the Twilight movies, which would dole out ridiculous four-second teasers via MTV.com, usually in advance of a longer teaser or clip debuting at an MTV awards show. Then, lamentably, The Hunger Games got in on the act, releasing a clip that was not even a second long last August, prior to the film’s teaser trailer.
But hey, those movies did phenomenally well, and that must be because of the micro-marketing campaign, and not in spite of it, right? And so, this trend has spread like wildfire: Recently, we got a random tease of the teaser for the Total Recall remake, and things got particularly egregious with Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, where every day leading up to the trailer’s bow served as the premiere of a brand-new snippet. “We teased the teaser,” Fox marketing head Oren Aviv bragged to the Los Angeles Times, adding, “And it was viewed 29.7 million times.” Still, while the trailer for Prometheus is super-rad, it’s mainly made up of striking, intriguingly juxtaposed images, many of which had already been parsed out in a piecemeal fashion to the Internet days before. Fox got the week of hype it wanted, but it sacrificed the full oomph of the trailer for all those split-second trickles.
Of course, you could say that’s the nature of trailers anyway: Even a full-length trailer will sometimes sell out spoilery scenes in advance, potentially watering down the full feature. (Who can forget the trailer for Robert Zemeckis’s Castaway, which included every single beat from the movie’s third act, including the film’s final image?) But when they’re done right, trailers can be marvelous works of art in themselves, building delicious anticipation while keeping you in the dark just enough. Think of that first teaser for David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a tone-setting primal scream scored to Karen O’s cover of “Immigrant Song”: Would it have rated as highly if we’d seen and heard several diminishing snippets of it for days in advance? Sony did attempt to goose the hype around the trailer by releasing an official “bootleg” version days before the real one, but that supposedly purloined video was still impeccably shot with fully mixed audio, not a trailer cut into bite-sized fragments.
Look, we love hype here at Vulture: Often, looking forward to a movie can be as exciting as actually getting to see it. (Even if the film is a dog, at least the anticipation was kinda fun.) But we like it when hype is done right, and these teasers-for-the-teaser get it all wrong, artificially extending the chatter around a trailer’s release at the expense of the trailer itself. Wrapped around the snippets of footage we’re getting in the new Looper teaser-teases, Johnson and Gordon-Levitt attempt to explain the premise of the movie in a way that those few seconds simply can’t. But you know what else might be able to communicate Looper’s plot? The actual, full-length trailer.