Latest trailer leads to sold-out opening nights

by Chancey Plagman

plagmanch@mnstate.edu

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the seventh film in the Star Wars saga, opens this December in theaters across the globe.  Already, the records books have been obliterated as far as advance ticket sales go.  To put this into perspective, this is the first time I have seen a movie get a 1:00am screening for opening night, when most start at 7pm or later.  For most theaters, those opening night show times have already sold out.

So why has this happened?  Why this movie?  The last film in this series was released a decade ago and the main stars of the movie are unknown to most audiences.  While the Star Wars brand is still very popular today, most people agree that it is most likely the newest trailer of the film that has caused this enormous wave of excitement which has led to these outrageous ticket sale numbers.

First of all, there have been several movie trailers in recent memory that seem to give away every secret of the movie they are advertising.  For example, a trailer for this past summer’s movie “Southpaw” starring Jake Gyllenhaal revealed the fate of one of the main characters within a minute of the trailer.  This part of the movie was supposed to be a shocking surprise, but every audience member who had seen the movie trailer knew what was coming.  On the contrary, the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer has given away nothing in the way of plot points.  It’s hard to nail down how the movie will begin and how it will end.

Another part of the trailer to acknowledge is how it winks back to previous films in the franchise.  Han Solo and other characters we know are shown, but we also see glimpses of Darth Vader, a new Death Star-esque space station, and many starships that fans of the franchise love to see.

That being mentioned, as a fan of this franchise, I tried to think outside the box with this trailer and tried to imagine what this trailer would look like and feel like if it was the first movie in the franchise. Would other movies exist? If this was the case the trailer would fascinate more so than any other trailer made in a long time.  I’d want to know who this Han Solo guy is, and what a Jedi is. And  that spaceship (the Millennium Falcon) looks cool!

This begs the question: what is the point of a movie trailer?  A simple answer is to advertise the movie and tell people it’s coming out.  Another answer is to engage the audience and show them what to expect from the movie and to make them more interested in it.  In that respect, this trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a success on a level that few other movie trailers have ever reached.  There is curiosity and buzz around the movie that has not been there before.  The trailer did its job.

The only thing that fans of the franchise have to worry about is whether or not the movie will live up to the trailer.  While this writer has doubts that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be the best in the franchise, it is easy to believe it will be a welcome addition to the series and a highly entertaining film.

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