Warner Bros. has a pretty stacked slate of 2017 releases. The next ten months with see two DCEU movies (Wonder Woman and Justice League), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the IT remake, Blade Runner 2049 and another Lego movie (after last month’s Lego Batman), Ninjago. Their quest for box office dominance begins this weekend with Kong: Skull Island, a reboot of the King Kong franchise that attempts to channel Apocalypse Now into a new story for the giant ape and set up Legendary’s emergent MonsterVerse shared universe. That’s not the only upcoming Warners release that Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ high-end monster flick is plugging, however.
Probably the most intriguing film on the studio’s entire slate is Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, a classic war movie from the famed blockbuster director that dramatizes the intense rescue of British troops from the French beaches as German forces marched in. There’s already been an incredibly effective early marketing campaign for the film, with a minimalist tease and expansive trailer, as well as an IMAX-exclusive clip that played before last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. If you missed that footage, however, you can still check it out.
Revealing footage from a Christopher Nolan picture has become a common practice ever since I Am Legend gave fans an early preview of The Dark Knight‘s opening, something that was repeated for The Dark Knight Rises with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Usually, though, it’s been reserved as an exclusive for a single movie; this Dunkirk footage has now played before two and may still appear before other releases. There’s definitely some association between the war vibes of the chosen movies, although it’s likely more a case of release timing and studio positioning than anything more targeted.
The prologue footage establishes the three core parts of the movie – the soldiers on the beach, the rescuers in the boats (including Mark Rylance’s civilian) and the pilots in the air – intercutting between teases of the action. It’s ultimately not as striking as either of the scenes from The Dark Knight or Rises, but does highlight the authentic style Nolan is going for; the air portion in particular feeling incredibly authentic and evocative of classic war movies. What it doesn’t give a taste of is the movie’s complex plot structure, which will use time dilation to present different parts of the week-long event, a filmmaking aspect the director’s been exploring in his movies since Memento.
Dunkirk‘s a core summer tentpole for Warners and IMAX, and as one without a related franchise (aside from the brand of Christopher Nolan) it can certainly use the extra push to break through. That said, the promo’s appeal can work both ways, with fans who didn’t catch Rogue One in IMAX able to check out Kong in the format to get a taste of their next Nolan fix.