Comic Con-fidential: You Can’t Stop the LeaksJuly 15, 2015
Ah, San Diego Comic Con. This past week has been joyful for geeks everywhere as we got to enjoy new updates about our favourite films, shows, comics, and video games. While not everyone can get to SDCC, those who weren’t in attendance were able to keep up with most of the updates online. The Internet truly is a blessing for fans this time of year, but for film studios and companies it can also be a bit of a problem. That was the case for Warner Bros. Pictures this year when they released the official Suicide Squad trailer after it was leaked, along with this message:
Here’s the thing: SDCC has a capacity limit, and try as hard as we might hundreds of thousands of geeks get left out from the event. I would love to go to SDCC, but I live in Canada and can’t afford to fly down and get a hotel, plus getting tickets when they go up online is basically the Hunger Games. There’s exclusive merchandise I can’t get, panels I wish I could attend, and huge guests that only attend that specific convention. Those of us who don’t get in feel like we’re missing out on a lot, but we’re comforted with the knowledge that at least we’ll see the big news, trailers and posters online.
So when the studios decide not to release the trailers to the outside world, the backlash is unfortunate. This is a technological age, and they can have as much security as they like but it’s hard to catch every recording device at such a big event. There’s always at least one person who catches the whole thing on camera, and thus a leak is born. Some leaked videos manage to get taken down within a few hours but by then thousands of people have already seen it, and it could have spread through other links.
What I find confusing about this particular DC situation is that the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released online during Comic Con while Suicide Squad‘s was not. Why the different approach for films from the same studio and universe? It would have been wiser to release both online after their SDCC premiere. Many people are seeing Warner Bros.’ “disappointed parent” reaction and remembering Marvel’s “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude after the Age of Ultron trailer was leaked.
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) October 22, 2014
I definitely understand both sides of this whole ordeal. The studio gave fans at the event a sneak peak and asked them not to leak it to the internet, and obviously a couple people in the audience broke that agreement. But this wasn’t a premiere or special scene, it was a trailer. A trailer is a key piece of marketing that is meant for the public to get us excited about the movie. It’s that wonderful gem we’re promised that’ll keep us going while we wait those long months for the film to come out, and we feel entitled to it, Hall H holds just over 6,000 people, so that’s only about 5% of the convention’s daily attendees (total attendance was over 130,000 last year) that get access to the preview – an even tinier percentage when you compare it to the couple of million people worldwide wanting to see this movie. Sure you want it to be a “unique experience for the Comic Con crowd”, but you can only exclude the rest of your fans for so long before it starts feeling unfair.
Really all that needs to be done is for the studio to make a promise beforehand: “official trailer will be released online on Monday!” That’s it, that’s all I need to hear. If I see that post on Facebook, and my friend tells me the trailer leaked and he can send me the link, I will 100% turn down the offer. “No thanks, I’ll wait for the HD version so I can really enjoy it.” Even if it was scheduled for 2 or 3 days after SDCC I would wait, because I’d be far more satisfied with a good quality version that isn’t shaky cam and that I can actually hear properly. And I would think those attending the panel would be satisfied too, because they still got to see the trailer hours before everyone else. But if the studio doesn’t release it online during the convention or give us a date, I’ll be too tempted to watch the leaked version in fear of otherwise having to wait who knows how long to see release officially.
When it comes to the threat of a leak, sometimes it’s best to steer into the skid, at least for trailers. You probably can’t stop the leak, so get ahead of it with the HD version ASAP. (Or even better, cause the leak, which many suspected Marvel did as a marketing strategy for Age of Ultron.) Get creative, play into it if you can. Heck, Suicide Squad‘s social media could have issued a statement as Amanda Waller, chastising the Belle Reve criminals for releasing confidential information. The point is, the outside world is desperate to be a part of the hype, and if we can’t get the real trailer we’ll take whatever we can get our hands on. You have an audience who’s willing to beg, borrow and steal just to get a glimpse of what their devoted fandom has promised them, you can either use that need and social media to your advantage or watch the Internet ruin your plans.
What do you think about leaked trailers? We want to hear from you!