BLOG: Prometheus Unadvertised

Do you remember back when a film was being released and we’d get a teaser trailer about six months out, then a main trailer a few months later and then maybe a few TV ads a week or so before the film actually arrived in cinemas?

These days we’re getting all sorts of pre-release stuff. For the really big films we get a teaser trailer a year before release and then twelve months of being bombarded with clues and a steady drip of information and teaser media releases via the net.

With Prometheus there’s all sorts of footage and info and viral stuff to find on the internet. The first images released from the film were presented on 21 July of last year along with other preview footage at the San Diego Comic-Con. The first trailer came along in December and since then we’ve had two more trailers. Viewers of the latest trailer, first shown on Channel 4 earlier this week, were encouraged to share their opinions about the trailer on Twitter and then a selection of the messages were shared in a 40-second live broadcast during a later ad break. We’ve had a website set up that’s dedicated to the fictional Wayland Industries Company and all its various endeavours and products. There’s been more preview footage, viral videos of Peter Wayland’s 2023 TED speech , adverts for the David 8 android from the film. High quality pictures of 3D models of the title ship, even a virtual tour of the Prometheus spaceship. There are online puzzles with breadcrumbs which lead to exclusive images. I’ve not even mentioned sneaky on-set pictures.

To cap it all off the Prometheus advertising bandwagon has jumped onboard with the trend of late to have a trailer for the trailer, with countdowns and teasers about what we might see. We got three countdown trailers for the actual trailer for Prometheus , we’ve even had intro videos featuring Ridley Scott himself . Trailers for trailers feels like a step too far for these advertising juggernauts: it’s starting to feel like the release of a trailer is becoming almost as big as the release of the film itself these days…

All the world-building stuff is great but it makes me wonder exactly who all these pre-release efforts are aimed at. For the spoiler hunter and the sci-fi geek who just has to know everything they can about a film before it comes out there really are all sorts out there to discover. But I reckon the average Joe Cit won’t know about most of it, or maybe even care that much. They’ll go see the film off the back of the traditional cinema trailers and magazine or internet movie news articles and not even know about all the other stuff out there.

I have non-geek friends who I go to the cinema with and they pretty much get all their future film info from me. The only Prometheus trailers they’ve seen are the teaser and then the first official trailer when they’ve been shown before other films at the cinema. They have no interest in the online stuff or the background world-building info. This makes me wonder who all this pre-release stuff is really aimed at.

Trailers and press release images I get, and I can see the need for it. I can understand the need to get your product out there and generate public interest. But so much of the other internet-related content seems like it’ll only get a very small audience. And that internet audience is, in the main, going to be us geeks. If all this viral and internet content is all just for us geeks then it’s nice and all but I reckon we’d all go see the film if all we had was news that Ridley Scott was doing a sci-fi film which had ties to the Alien franchise and we’d been given a release date. We’re a captive audience aren’t we? We knew all about the film long before trailers appeared and we’d already decided we were going to see it hadn’t we? So we don’t really need all this extra teaser stuff to compel us to see the film.

All this stuff must be costing money, some films have advertising budgets in the millions and I wonder what the return is for the film? Do you think any of this stuff really does increase the number of bums on seats? Prometheus isn’t the first film to have a huge marketing campaign like this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. There’s plenty of websites out there for fake companies and organisations and viral videos from films and TV shows which never sees the light of day. I wonder if this is all just a bit of a waste.

So what do you think about all this? Is it all marketing gone made? Do you think the viral stuff makes a difference to viewing figures? Are you happily scouring the net for every pre-release snippet you can get? Have you see the TED talk and the David advert? Is it the internet content that’s made you want to see this film or would you have gone to see it regardless? Has the advertising really made any difference to you at all?

Steven Ellis

After all that it's probably highly ironic to type this but what the hell: watch the latest Prometheus trailer !