Movie marketing is a complex beast. Just the right level of hype needs to be built at just the right time. Marshaling print, TV, digital and in theater channels with merchandising tie-ins, picture “leaks” and panel appearances at Cons to build to a crescendo, whipped up by a whirlwind of a junket that makes your release feel like a “must see” before riding it’s own hype-train all the way to box office domination.
These days the marketing effort starts over a year out. A teaser trailer frequently hits during the prior years season, after some carefully managed leaks from the set and delivery of “pwesents” to certain webmasters.
This model is especially needed by large, big-budget tentpole movies that require significant velocity by the time they hit theaters to recoup huge amounts of outlay. This model has been effectively denied to a movie that needs it most. A big-budget sci-fi spectacular with a built-in audience but needs to achieve a breakthrough outside fans of the book – Dune.
It was already a very tight production schedule. It was a notable achievement on behalf of Denis Villeneuve, his cast and his crew that they nailed principle photography and were deep into post-production before COVID hit. This tight schedule meant they were not going to have a teaser ready for Christmas 2019. It would have been reasonable to expect a teaser, behind the scenes footage and cast interviews rolling over Q1, Q2 and Q3 2020 with a main trailer ready to go for Tenet on it’s original release of July 17th.
None of that has been able to happen due to the pandemic. Tenet has been moving around like an ADD child let loose in the Red Bull factory. It’s now down for August 12th in much of the world and August 21st in the US. With talk of a second wave gathering pace in Europe, with Spanish borders closed and travel bans being rolled out around new infection clusters this is still far from certain.
Which is terrible news for Dune. News out of Denmark, via Trailer Track, confirms that Dune will have a full trailer attached to Tenet. So that is over 12 months, usually, of marketing and hype building was going to have to be condensed into 4 months even if Tenet holds this date.
Dune needs hype. It has four months to get it. Not only because fans really need a good version of Dune to do well at the box-office, but because there is potential Part II riding on the outcome. Show space being folded, plotting Bene Gesserit, an Emperor’s betrayal, raiding Sardukar on Arrakis, Freemen and a spice harvester being pulled under by a giant sandworm and get assess in seats!
Earlier in the year sci-fi novelist Brian Clement saw some finished scenes and was ecstatic, revealing:
“…my opinion on new Dune based only on the footage I saw (since people are curious), I think this will blow people away the way LOTR did 20 years ago, the way Star Wars did 40 years ago. It’s not Jodorowsky or Lynch, but maybe Villeneuve has filmed the unfilmable.”
The marketing department at Warner Bros has it’s work cut-out here, but it needs to motor.