What Warner Bros. Should Have Done With Ready Player One's Marketing
Perhaps this thesis will be proven wrong when the film is released on March 29, but it seems like WB showed their hand too early. The first trailer showed off way too much of the VR fantasy world - perhaps trying to capitalize on its premiere at San Diego Comic-Con - without providing enough context for viewers to truly appreciate and be awed by its spectacle. Maybe they should have set the whole trailer in the real world and only fleetingly show glimpses of "The Oasis," as it is called.
Proof of this lies in the second trailer, which, while a significant improvement over the first, lacks the impact it could have had because of the damage done by the initial teaser. The stunning reveal of The Iron Giant doesn't tug on the heartstrings in the same way as it would have had we not already been introduced to the character in such a ho-hum manner the first time around. It also didn't help that the CGI visuals on display in the first teaser were a little bit janky compared to the more polished aesthetics of the new clip.
Spoiling the movie in order to market said movie is a general problem with trailers, but at least those pivotal moments are treated with the bombast they deserve. For example, Thor: Ragnarok treats the reveal of Hulk in the gladiator arena as an unexpected twist, but that moment was the crux of the whole marketing campaign. Months before the film came out, "He's a friend from work!" was already part of the pop culture lexicon. In Ready Player One, the Iron Giant is just another in an endless slew of Easter Eggs, each more disposable than the last. Warner Bros. should have kept secret as many of these Easter Eggs as possible, or at least saved them for this most recent trailer after people have bought into the concept.
Is It Too Late For Ready Player One?
Ready Player One hits theaters in a little over a month, and the buzz is not as strong as it should be. YouTube videos pointing out the numerous Easter Eggs on display have sucked away a lot of the hype for the film, rather than adding to it. It feels like the magic of audience discovery - something Warner Bros. clearly want the movie to be about - has already been drained from the movie-going experience before the movie is even out.
Of course, it's also entirely possible that Ready Player One is chock full of surprises and the trailers have only scratched the surface of the movie's deep and substantial themes. Only time will tell if the movie will be able to reverse its fortunes and become the box office juggernaut WB is hoping for.
- Ready Player One (2018) release date: Mar 29, 2018