Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has become one of the hottest properties in Hollywood. The first Avengers film, Avenger: Age of Ultron, and Iron Man 3 all rank in the top 10 grossing movies of all time. And if there’s one thing that the MCU made famous are their teaser materials: one-shots, including Easter eggs and post-credit sequences. One shots in particular – short features that fill in storyline gaps and introduce characters – are a fantastic way to give hungry fans a heads-up as to what’s around the corner for their favorite characters.
With the rise of streaming services, though, comes the decline of DVD and Blu-ray sales – the main vehicle for their one-shots. How does Marvel plan to deliver these fun featurettes to fans without the exclusive audience home media extras once provided for viewers?
Directors of Captain America: Civil War, Anthony and Joe Russo, addressed that issue in their recent interview with Forbes. Since the studios can no longer depend on extras on home releases to extend and elaborate upon the MCU, the directors feel there are several good options. Although they don’t go into great detail, they do share a few ideas, especially concerning their upcoming efforts for Avengers: Infinity Wars. Anthony Russo says:
“We have gone through a little bit of a transition with that content, We can’t go into too many details about this but we are thinking, very specifically, about to do new ways of what you are talking about with Avengers: Infinity War. We’re just in the beginning phases of figuring them out. Yes, DVDs are gone but there is this wonderful internet platform out there called YouTube.”
Despite the challenges of monetizing YouTube, the Russos clearly feel the next phase of the MCU’s one-shots would be well served by streaming channels. Special features and content could be created to build excitement and drive people online:
“It can make money by creating anticipation,” Anthony Russo continues, “elaborate versions of trailers for instance, that are shot specifically for online that will never appear in the movie but that may appear as a kind of short film for a movie in the same way that a trailer does.”
The brothers also discussed different avenues to promote one-shots and unique storylines like Fear The Walking Dead’s Flight 462. Joe Russo says:
“We’re also talking to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram about ways to feed ancillary content to them and to viewers because it’ll go viral there and you can reach millions of people. The platform is changing but it is a lot easier to sit on your couch and Apple TV pops up rather than you having to get up and find a DVD, so it is what it is, and there are always new and different ways to reach the audience.”
Clearly, the industry is doing its best to adapt to the changing market. DC is already reaping the rewards of social media with increased pre-ticket sales for their upcoming film Batman V Superman. Creating exclusive content for online viewing could definitely push serious numbers online and keep fans enthralled – something which is important because the one-shots and teasers created important linkages between the previous films and the upcoming features, as well as giving fans the feeling that they were clued in on the bigger picture.
The trick with releasing the content online, aside from monetizing them, is keeping that inclusive feeling alive. Social media is all about appealing to the largest possible audience in general. So exclusive content on pay sites like iTunes or YouTube Red, as well as related content in and around Netflix’s Marvel series like Daredevil could keep viewers feeling tuned in to the MCU. Exclusive website content and fan-club access to videos could also successfully promote their films and TV series in addition to their standard social media content.
Captain America: Civil War opens in U.S. theaters on May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans– July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.