I'm a big fan of the Lisbeth Salander stories and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is probably one of my favourite books. I love the films as well. Big fan of The Crown and Claire Foy too. So what could go wrong with Foy taking over the role of one the most iconic female characters in recent memory?
The answer to this is a spoiler heavy trailer that is going to result in the film getting mixed reviews, throwing the future of the franchise into question and no doubt resulting in a fourth woman being cast in the role in less than ten years. Okay, I'm being dramatic.
I couldn't resist seeing the trailer for The Girl in the Spider's Web, not only because I enjoy these stories, but that, inexplicably, I've yet to read this entry in the franchise. So, with that in mind, I didn't know what to expect going into this. I don't know the plot of this story and I still knew that I was watching a very spoiler heavy trailer. The worst part of this is that the trailer seems to be leaning on plot elements that are only significant if you are a fan of the story and know the character's background. The trailer gives away a big twist in the story, which, I'm sure is revealed quite early in the story, but nevertheless, it feels like I'm getting the whole movie summed up in 3 minutes and in a way that is only meaningful and impactful to those who were already sold on going to see the film. Pointless...
I'm not so naive that I don't know what the game is here. Obviously, they are trying to drum up as much ticket sales as possible. And yes, I am of course going to go see this no matter how many spoilers the trailer gives away. However, I cannot understand the mindset of a marketing executive or a producer who thinks that giving away the goods up front is going to be more beneficial than a story that surprises and enthrals audiences.
There is a benefit to holding back on those plot twists and surprises. It leads to greater enjoyment in the cinema. This in turn spins off into water cooler discussions and word of mouth marketing. From here, the possibilities are endless. More films, sequels, spin offs, tv series, graphic novels and games even. You name it. Commercial success is assured.
Think about A Quiet Place or Get Out; two horror examples whose commercial success (apart from being well written and well made films) boiled down to word of mouth marketing because of how surprisingly enjoyable the films ended up being in the cinema.
Now think about the negative examples; Terminator: Genesis played its trump card in the trailers and left audiences unsurprised and unengaged with the film itself. They did this as well with Terminator: Salvation and I'd hazard a guess that Terminator 2 was guilty of getting carried away in the trailer department too. We are seeing this at the moment with The Predator, a film that is failing to capture the attention of movie goers, in part because of poor storytelling (from what I read) but also due to an over zealous marketing department that wants to show off all its tricks before people have even bought their ticket.
Getting back to this film. The producers think that they have to sell us on the twist of this story (which, you'll notice I was careful enough not to spoil!) in order to get us interested in Lisbeth Salander. There is a huge fan base out there for Clare Foy and Salander as a character so why not market the talent and the mythology of the universe that Stieg Larsson created? Don't hang your marketing around a twist that is only going to be meaningful for the people who already understand her and which has no value for newcomers to the franchise.
(Image copyright: Sony Pictures)