Moviegoers have become accustomed to film trailers and promotional materials that spoil key plot developments and twists about an upcoming movie. Many look down upon this practice, since it seemingly ruins the fun and excitement of watching the film in question for the first time. If the audience knows what happens, they're arguably going to be less invested in the perceived "drama," waiting instead for the moments from the previews rather than being captivated by what's happening on-screen.
One recent blockbuster where this was not an issue was Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. With mystery box maestro J.J. Abrams at the helm, the film's marketing campaign was noted for its high levels of secrecy. Trailers and TV spots did not reveal that much about the story and the characters, Luke Skywalker was withheld until the premiere, and an official synopsis was never shared by Lucasfilm. It was a refreshing change-of-pace for viewers, and perhaps set a template that future tentpoles should follow.
Disney and Lucasfilm will release a new Star Wars film annually for the foreseeable future, meaning that the studios will have to constantly organize advertising strategies for their projects set in a galaxy far, far away. Some fans are wondering if the other films lined up will go as far as Force Awakens did in regards to keeping things under lock and key. According to star Daisy Ridley, there's a chance Star Wars: Episode VIII has a bit more leeway than its predecessor.
The actress spoke with ET, where she was asked about how Lucasfilm may approach the Star Wars 8 marketing in comparison to The Force Awakens. While Ridley didn't confirm anything, she hints that under Rian Johnson's command, things will be a little more open:
"I think Rian actually wants to be a bit cheekier with the little tidbits of information that come out. You can see, even with the way Mark and Carrie posted pictures with their chairs, it's a little bit freer."
Ridley is referring to social media posts made by her co-stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, which showcase chairs bearing the (mock) working title Space Bear: Episode VIII. It does seem as if the studio is comfortable with the team being more candid this time around. While on the Oscars red carpet, Ridley herself revealed that Star Wars 8 picks up immediately from where The Force Awakens left off, as she reshot Episode VII's final scene with a new crew. And well before he was officially announced as a cast member, franchise newcomer Benicio del Toro was discussing his mystery role in the highly-anticipated sequel, stirring up speculation months in advance.
In all honesty, it would probably be for the best if Episode VIII wasn't as shrouded in secrecy. That angle worked for The Force Awakens because it was the first new Star Wars movie in more than 10 years and everybody was pumped to see it just because of that. Lucasfilm understood they didn't need to go too far with what they showed in trailers. A different tactic for the next one would be wise. Viewers now know the state of the galaxy and its inhabitants in the post-Return of the Jedi world, so if the studio held back at the lengths they did before, it could come across as gimmicky. Moviegoers are excited to see the next chapter of the story, and they'll want to have some idea of what everyone is up to.
That said, nobody is expecting Lucasfilm to reveal anything major before Star Wars 8 comes out. When C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels joked on Twitter he would share the movie's story with his followers, Johnson's reply was a picture that spoke a thousand words. Even though Abrams is no longer directing, the mystery box format is still prevalent, so those worried that Disney may spoil everything need not fret (yet). As Ridley suggests, it'll be more "little tidbits" that pop up, not the entire arc of the narrative or a vital revelation. So that means the juiciest questions, like who Rey's parents are, probably won't be answered until December 2017; fans will just have a clearer picture of the bare bones plot.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is out on Blu-ray April 5th, 2016; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16th, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode 8 on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.