Plenty of big movies are scheduling their trailers to run during the Super Bowl, traditionally one of the most-watched television events of the year featuring some of the most expensive advertising space – but well worth the price to studios who know that a broad audience is harder to capture than ever in the newly-stratified world of 21st century media. In an age where wide-scale communal viewing has been supplanted by the “niche-ing” of seemingly every genre and medium, The Super Bowl remains one of the few televised events believed to reach huge swaths of multiple key demographics at the same time.
But some studios aren’t waiting for the game: Lionsgate has dropped the “game day” spot for its upcoming fantasy-action epic Gods of Egypt almost a full day early, angling to net the film more much-needed buzz with moviegoers.
There isn’t much in the way of brand new footage or extended scenes in the new spot, which mainly feels like a streamlined version of the previous trailers with an even stronger emphasis on action and special effects that highlight the unique aesthetic director Alex Proyas (Dark City) has brought to his fantastical vision of Ancient Egypt. One notable difference is a greater focus (in terms of screen time) on the titular god characters, who have been made to appear inhumanly taller than their human counterparts through forced-perspective effects and are also seen morphing into gleaming “battle beast” armor that renders them even larger and grants them new powers.
In the story, loosely inspired by Ancient Egyptian mythology, Sky God Horus (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) must reclaim his stolen crystal eyes in order to stop War God Set (Gerard Butler) from conquering Egypt and enslaving its people with the aid of mortal hero Bek (Brenton Thwaites.) While earlier trailers focused on Horus and Set, this particular spot offers a more pronounced look at Geoffrey Rush as Sun God Ra, Chadwick Boseman (Marvel’s future Black Panther) as God of Wisdom Thoth and Elodie Yung (soon to be Daredevil’s Elektra) as the Goddess Hathor – here seemingly revealed to be the power behind the massive snake-monsters that figure so prominently in the film’s prior marketing. We also get brief looks at Horus and Set’s fight scene, which will presumably also involve the “battle beast” modes in the film-proper.
While already gaining notices for its striking visuals, unique creature design and imaginative take on the under-explored mythos of Ancient Egypt, thus far Gods has struggled unsuccessfully to gain traction as a conversation topic outside of the backlash that greeted its casting of predominantly white European actors as the gods (mythological or not) of an ancient nation in northeastern Africa. While it remains unknown whether the ongoing controversy will harm Gods of Egypt at the box-office, it’s clearly not going away any time soon. Not only does the film have the misfortune of following the similarly-titled Exodus: Gods & Kings into theaters and into the same casting controversy, the film is set to open the same weekend as the Academy Awards ceremony, which this years was hit by a wave of outrage over the snubbing of high-profile black actors and filmmakers so sustained that the organization has scrambled to make radical changes to its infrastructure aimed at both adding diversity and restoring relevance to its voting process.
Gods of Egypt hits theaters on February 26, 2016.