Lucasfilm Wouldn't Blatantly Lie To Audiences
Misleading trailers are nothing new in the film industry. They happen more often than cinephiles would like to see, and there are clear business reasons for this. Some movies, in particular smaller works without the luxury of a built-in audience, need to find a way to connect with the mainstream so they post solid numbers at the box office. This is why previews for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds positioned the Best Picture nominee more as an action/thriller with Brad Pitt murdering Nazis rather than the deeper drama it really was. But, as we've already said, Star Wars is in a different boat compared to most movies, so the trailers are about something else besides appealing to casual viewers looking for a fun sci-fi film over the holidays.
Simply put, there is no way Lucasfilm would sign off on a Last Jedi trailer ending in the manner this most recent one did if it was not at the very least somewhat representative of where the story is headed. The studio knew hundreds of millions of people would watch the trailer and knew the stinger would be a massive talking point. Rey and Kylo joining forces is now an idea firmly entrenched in the minds of many, and if the movie doesn't deliver on this tease, several viewers will be disappointed (regardless of how Episode VIII turns out). It's worth keeping in mind that Johnson himself had a hand in the marketing campaign, meeting with Lucasfilm brass to discuss what would be unveiled when. He very likely made the choice to conclude the trailer with that specific imagery, understanding what the reaction would be. Seeing that a primary goal of a trailer is to excite the target audience while also being indicative of the film's content, it would be curious for Johnson and company to include the sequence if something similar doesn't happen in the movie.
The genius thing about Star Wars trailers is that even when they drop seemingly big spoilers on the audience (like Rey teaming with Kylo), it raises more questions than what viewers might have had before. Just an inkling of the two young Force users going off hand-in-hand is enough to make people wonder about Luke (is he a villain?), Supreme Leader Snoke (does he have his eyes on Rey?), and what exactly Rey and Kylo would be hoping to achieve as partners. There are several directions for this thread to go, so it doesn't truly ruin a major plot twist. All it does is send fans into a frenzy, flocking to their keyboards as they impatiently count down the days to December. Domhnall Gleeson told us Lucasfilm knows how to market Star Wars, and he is right on with that assessment.
It would be one thing if the shot of BB-8 being electrocuted during the space battle isn't in the final film, as that's just a generic action beat. Rey's statement that she needs someone to help her find her place is a lynchpin for the entire narrative. It ties into the themes of The Last Jedi as she takes her next steps into an even larger world. Lucasfilm has set up the Rey/Kylo dynamic as an integral part of Episode VIII, as evidenced by their placements on posters and IMAX standees. It's easy for the die-hard fanatics to forget that the trailers aren't just there for them to overanalyze; they raise awareness for casual audiences who aren't tuned into every minuscule bit. The average moviegoer has now adjusted expectations accordingly based on this footage.
Now, this isn't to say there aren't any misdirects in the Last Jedi trailer. It's unclear if Snoke is talking to Kylo or Rey in his opening voice over, and Luke's commitment to training Rey is fluid. In some scenes, he's showing her the ways of the Force, while in another, he turns his back on her. These are pieces of the puzzle that will fall into place once everyone gets a chance to see the film in its finished form. The same can be said for other items of promotion, such as details about Benicio del Toro's enigmatic DJ and Rose Tico's secret mission with Finn.
Even if Rey's apparent conversation with Kylo Ren plays out differently in the movie when compared to the trailer, what this moment represents still has a place in the film. Especially after the criticisms following Rogue One's previews (which included several shots not in the movie and hinted at character arcs left on the cutting room floor), Lucasfilm was going to be very conscious about what was in materials for The Last Jedi. Rey and Kylo Ren are the yin and yang of the sequel trilogy, arguably its two most important characters moving forward. There's absolutely no reason for Lucasfilm to lie about this. Star Wars is arguably the most viable franchise in Hollywood, so they don't need to resort to bait-and-switch trickery in order to sell tickets. If Rey and Kylo Ren are contemplating a truce in the trailer, there most likely will be one in the movie.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019