Neil Calloway argues that believing the hype only leads to disappointment…
I can pinpoint the precise moment the scales fell from my eyes and I stopped believing the hype. It was a morning in 1999, and George Lucas was sitting in a shed not far from where I now live, autographing a pair of boxer shorts. Word of mouth for The Phantom Menace was looking bad, so they broke out the big guns and a director who changed Hollywood forever was reduced to appearing on a long past its best British morning TV show.
That’s why I almost punched the air when I read the news that Mark Hamill and Rian Johnson said people should avoid all the marketing material for The Last Jedi. People should avoid all marketing material for all films if they want a better cinema experience. I can guarantee that every film that let you down had great marketing and you believed the hype, and that cool little film you saw on the off chance that it might be good but didn’t really know about is now one of your favourites.
Returning to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, one of the reasons the Star Wars prequels were so bad was that they hype and expectation were so high. The expectations for The Force Awakens and Rogue One were so low that even if they weren’t great films people would have enjoyed them.
The problem with marketing for a phenomenon like Star Wars is that if you’re not careful you’ll know the plot of The Last Jedi before the film is released; there will be no surprises; you’ll know who Rey’s parents are, what sets Kylo Ren off on a sulky teenager temper tantrum. You’re best off avoiding the endless interviews with cast members and anodyne behind the scenes shots that will be played on a loop in the weeks leading up to its release. You’re going to see the movie anyway, so why spoil everything?
Actors and directors are contractually obliged to promote films they worked on, so I doubt Hamill and Johnson will actively avoid promotional work for the movie; if they do they’ll probably lose a chunk of the fee they got paid (there’s a long history of actors realising they are in a turkey halfway through production, or not being happy with the final film and not wanting to fake enthusiasm for it, so it’s now written into contracts that to receive their full pay they must also promote the film; money talks).
I’ll try to avoid The Last Jedi marketing juggernaut, and probably see the film in the first few days it comes out, and if I don’t like it, at least I can’t blame being overexcited by Disney’s hype.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.