Update: The full Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer is now online.
Solo: A Star Wars Story finally has a trailer date, and it makes the seemingly never-ending wait all worth it. We've been imminently expecting a first look at the Han Solo standalone for what feels like parsecs, with rumor after rumor suggesting different dates that dependably came and went. It all started with reports a trailer was cut in October 2017, and after that there was an almost daily update on its arrival. But, every time, it failed to materialize: it was going to come with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but then it didn't; it was going to arrive any day now in January, but then it didn't. All this was made more extreme by the fact we've not had a single official image of the film - and nary a suggestion of what Alden Ehrenreich looks like in the lead role (beyond leaked artwork).
Now, though, the date is confirmed. Or should that be dates. Based on a flurry of reports, it appears the first look at Solo will come at the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 4 in the form of a TV spot before the full trailer debuts on Good Morning America the morning after on Monday, February 5. Of course, it's exciting simply because we'll actually, finally have footage of the movie and be able to speculate on what Ron Howard and co. have done, rather than endlessly debate when we'll see something, but the release strategy is better than that. It is, frankly genius.
There's been a lot of skepticism about Solo. All the way back to the first rumblings of the project back in 2013, fans seemed unconvinced about a prequel about the smuggler. And, while a much-hyped script, the hiring of LEGO maestros Lord and Miller, and spot-on casting piqued some interest, that was all scattered when the directors were fired 85% of the way through production, replaced by Ron Howard for completion-turned-reshoots that allegedly doubled the budget. Those are production issues that make Justice League's road to the big screen look smooth.
The trailer delay only exacerbated things, adding to rumblings that Disney were expecting the film to bomb. This reflected worst on the star; under the cloud of rumors that Ehrenreich's performance was so bad he got an acting coach mid-way through production, to not show anything with less than five months before release was taken as a major cause for concern.
But it wasn't. Not at all. It was, as we'd been side-musing all along, part of the plan. As Domhnall Gleeson said, "they know how to market Star Wars", and this time they were doing it a little differently.
Obviously, to not run the Solo trailer alongside The Last Jedi was instinctively smart; while it provides an ideal prospective audience, it also risks confusion - Solo is set over four decades before Episode VIII and centers on a character dead by the time it starts, something that'll throw casual viewers - and the smaller story could easily be dwarfed by the might of a full-on Saga film. After that, though, the long January of waiting felt weird. The Last Jedi's run in theaters wasn't as long as The Force Awakens, and from mid-way through the month it felt fertile ground to hype up the impending release. Every day was a delay in people getting excited about a movie whose time was really running out.
But Lucasfilm wasn't making time an ally of the dissenters, they were building towards the biggest trailer drop possible. In the two-day release window they're getting the best of both worlds; a TV spot at the Super Bowl and a lone trailer drop. The former will get Solo's first look in front of more eyes than any other release method, but the latter means it won't be swallowed up alongside footage from Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Avengers: Infinity War, Cloverfield Station, and a dozen other exciting projects. In fact, the GMA release directly combats that; it means that, whatever other distributors unveil on Sunday night, by Monday morning all anyone will be talking about will be Star Wars.
After months of speculation, this is the best possible outcome. It explains the extended delay and justifies the radio silence; any concern over the movie's quality pales in comparison to the impact of this double-tap. Sometimes, Han really does amaze even himself. Now, let's just hope the trailer delivers.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019