Ah, X-Men: Days of Future Past. I think I actually want to open by saying I am really excited for this movie. This is the great X-Men story I grew up with, one of my first and main introductions into time travel (along with Back to the Future), between the comics, the novelization, the adaptation on the animated TV show, and then eventually to hoping it would come to pass as the movies took hold.
I have said before, and will say again, where I always wanted X-Men: The Last Stand to end was with a lead-in to Days of Future Past. It would have made sense, to, as trouble always seems to lurk for the X-Men whenever something happens to Professor Xavier, and it was definitely not his finest day in The Last Stand. But it didn’t happen, and they’ve put a lot more movies out there before finally getting to this story.
In many ways, this is the movie that they need to redeem and empower their franchise. And story wise especially this is true. However, it sounds like the cost on the movie is such that it may make or break their future plans – which are already spinning. This could be their Avengers – or their end. I’m excited to find out which it will be, and I am really hoping for the excellence that half of the X-Men films have shown – not the failure the others have been.
To that end, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the fascinating marketing, advertising, hype, and social media that have swirled around this movie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it – and I want to write this post before the movie comes out precisely to consider and speculate on this marketing, rather than to praise it or blame it.
The Twitter Leaks
If you wanted to know what was going on with this movie, you didn’t have to look far. There were inside sources, leaking production details, casting, photos. Hard to get good help these days, right?
Oh wait. It was the director, Bryan Singer.
Hard to find old Tweets, but suffice to say, if you wanted to know which actors they got back for the film – and thus which characters were going to appear. Straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.
Bryan Singer (@BryanSinger) December 05, 2013
The Viral Videos and Trask Industries
Once they were really going and filming, did they give us a teaser trailer with some shots from filming? Nope.
They created their own viral videos.
The first was for Trask Industries, the fictional company credited with creating the mutant-hunting Sentinels which have been missing from the movies so far – and which were the starting place for the 90s animated series. They also made swag and merchant and were around at Cons with the Trask stuff.
Then they made The Bent Bullet – a conspiracy theory video about whether Magneto killed Kennedy. All this before a real trailer.
Then an amazing Trailer
They should probably have stopped at this one – it’s a great trailer. The music carries the emotions, they present the stakes and the plot and the characters. We have tried to avoid the other trailers to not get spoiled too much on this – assuming this movie has any secrets we don’t already know. So I’ll only include this trailer for your sake as well – but there are more.
They weren’t done when they got to trailers. Next they released – one an hour for a day, shared by the actors themselves on Twitter – 25 character photos, as 25 variant covers to the 25th anniversary edition of Empire magazine.
It helped clear up some questions, like about new characters, looks they were going for, etc. Also, since they broke them up into future and past, it answered some questions about who belongs where, or rather when. And it showed us some looks we hadn’t yet sen, like the cool looking Sentinels and the questionable Quicksilver.
The Crazy Cross-Promotion
As the movie has approached, the cross-promotion has been intense. For instance, a handful of Carl’s Jr. Ads, which not only include the characters or references to the movie, but which are them showing-off the characters’ powers. For instance, Quicksilver:
People are also a little offended by the Mystique commercial, but for me at least, Carl’s Jr. is past the point of being able to offend me. Their ads have been ridiculous and misogynistic for a long time now. I’m not necessarily pleased with this choice for cross promotion; I’m just pointing out it’s out there too. And it serves the purpose of showcasing the characters.
We also saw a pre-trailers clip from the movie that morphed into a “movies weren’t made to be seen on the small screen” ad. I couldn’t tell if this was for anti-piracy, or if it was just pro-going-to-the-theaters. Either way, I can’t find it online to show you, but it was interesting. They need people to be excited for this movie and to go see it in theaters, to make the money they’re going to need to make.
I’ve seen other movies do many of the parts that I’ve explored above. A few make stand-alone viral trailers, with scenes not in the movie – take Frozen and the Olaf video with the elk. Many release info to Twitter and social media during filming. Most all have trailers, maybe some pre-interview stuff, cross-promotion, merch. But all of these things, for one film? Over the course of probably a year-and-a-half?
Like for most things film, I take my answers from We Minored in Film. It sounds like this movie cost over $200 million dollars to make, and given how much of a big-actor cast it has, I can’t say I’m surprised. But they need to be able to recoup this, to make it worth it. They need the fans to turn out – fans who have been getting excited from things like the viral campaigns, the leaked Tweets, and Empire 25. They also need everyone else to show up, so working their way into other commercials, ending up in the news because of stunts like Empire 25, all seem to be in hopes of getting people out to see this film.
With this much hype leading up to one film – some of the most and most varied for any film in my experience – I worry for the film. For it being good, for it living up to all of my expectations. The fans’ expectations. I’ve seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier three times, just like I saw The Avengers three times. I didn’t grow up reading comics with those characters – I grew up reading the X-Men, reading Days of Future Past. Will they capture the spirit of this story, of time travel and the end of mutant kind, and make a movie that I would be willing to see three times in theaters? I guess we’ll just have to see.
Want more of the expectations for the film? The advance reviews are sounding good, but I avoided actually reading the post so be ye warned! Check it out on We Minored in Film!