Cross Media Strategy

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It’s also possible that Disney will take a completely different approach, using their many entities to help create a worldwide event. When I was speculating about this on Twitter after my dinner discussion, someone theorized that Disney could do an expansive cross-media event, premiering the trailer for the first time on all of the Disney-owned television stations, online, in theme parks simultaneously. Its very possible Disney will up the “epic” factor in this film’s marketing campaign — positioning Episode VII as the biggest event film of our time.

Remember, 20th Century Fox made a television event out of the Episode II full trailer, airing the trailer on the Fox Network on March 10th 2002 between Malcolm in the Middle and The X-Files (the trailer was also available on the official Star Wars web site the same day).

Longer Lead Marketing

Tron Legacy Concept Art

But also, times have changed, and so has the release date of Episode VII. Never before have we had a Star Wars film released in the Christmas movie-going season. The teaser trailers for the May-set Star Wars prequels were always released in early to mid November the year before. Also all these decisions were made by 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm, the Mouse might see things completely differently.

Some films still focus on theatrical marketing exclusively first. Christopher Nolan and David Fincher are some filmmakers who have consistently pushed to have their trailers shown only on the big screen for the first few days. (Or a few weeks in the case of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which was attached to Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and wasn’t available officially online until three weeks later.) JJ Abrams and Bad Robot have done a couple opening sequence previews which were exclusively shown in IMAX.

However its unlikely in this internet age that a theatrical-exclusive trailer would last a few minutes before appearing online in bootleg form.

We live in different times. Studios value the spikes in social graphs more and more. There is the possibility that they will just launch the trailer online the week or days leading up to one of the above mentioned movies. More people will see a trailer this way than launching in exclusively in theaters and releasing the trailer online the next week.


Big Hero 6 (1)

And it’s also possible we could see things sooner. The soonest we could realistically see a teaser trailer would be attached to the Disney animated film Big Hero 6 in November 2014. Other winter 2014 possibilities include Into the Woods and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, although I’d again argue that Disney wants a PG movie to debut the first trailer and The Hobbit is likely going to be PG-13.

There have been some studies that have shown that its not cost effective to market a film these days more than six months in advance as a result of the short attention span internet generation. Long lead campaigns certainly didn’t help Tron Legacy at the box office, although everyone always points to The Dark Knight as the major success in this realm. Godzilla is a more recent example of a film which promoted for more than a year before release.

So there are a bunch of possibilities, nothing definite. Here is what I have concluded:

  • Disney will probably follow previous history and release the first teaser trailer for Episode VII 6-8 months before the film’s December 2015 release.
  • The teaser trailer will most likely premiere at the Star Wars‘ official fan convention Star Wars Celebration which takes place April 16-19th 1015 in Anaheim California.
  • The trailer will then likely be available to the general public weeks later attached to either Avengers: Age of Ultron in early May or Tomorrowland in late May, premiering online days before.
  • If I am wrong about the above, than Pixar’s Inside Out in June is the next best choice on the film schedule

Again, this is all just speculation based on past history.

One thing that quickly occurred to me during this speculative discussion: we likely haven’t even seen the teaser trailer for the movie that will likely have the first Star Wars Episode 7 trailer. We’re still in early days.

Feedback: When do you think Disney will release the first Star Wars 7 trailer and why?

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