At last week’s San Diego Comic-Con, a great many big movie studios showed footage for movies both nearing release and still in production. In the case of movies like Warner Bros’ Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the footage was a fully-realized trailer and was therefore released to the public after the Hall H panel, but in the case of the same studio’s Suicide Squad, it was just footage, not meant to be seen by anyone outside those massive walls for quite a long time. But it was leaked, via cell phone camera, as were the first trailer for Fox’s hotly-anticipated Deadpool and a sizzle reel from the first five weeks of shooting X-Men: Apocalypse.
The question has become whether filmmakers and studios are secretly okay with, or even hoping for and privy to, the footage leaking, because any publicity is good publicity, right? Well, not quite. During a set visit this week for Apocalypse, which is still only a little over halfway done shooting, a number of outlets, Nerdist included, were treated to a very frank and definitive answer to that query by Hutch Parker, the former president of production for 20th Century Fox and current producer for the X films.
“I’d say it really isn’t intended to be leaked; it’s really intended to excite a core,” Parker said of Comic-Con and showing footage. “From a marketing perspective, what they want is to share it with the most discerning eyes that are out there for this material. It’s the biggest and probably most intense focus group any of us ever have.”
He went on to talk about how scary the prospect of showing unfinished footage of any project actually is in that environment. “If [Hall H fans] don’t like it, if they aren’t feeling it, they’re going to let you and everybody else know,” he said with a distinct air of wariness, adding “we make a movie and you want to believe it’s going to be great. The reality is, not all of them are. But you have to believe that going in. We go in wanting to be accepted and embraced, and ideally even acknowledged for having done it well.”
And ultimately, Parker says, the leaked footage isn’t good for marketing because it’s way too early and for the general populous to have access to it is inviting excitement over it to wane. “The reason you don’t see footage out that far,” he maintains, “is you run the risk of it getting stale. Generally speaking, and I can’t speak for other studios — I can’t even speak for Fox anymore — but I don’t believe their intention is [for footage to be leaked]. I think their intention is to get the most important opinions and opinion-makers in this community engaged in the promise of what’s coming.”
There’s a reason going to Hall H is so coveted, and it’s getting to see things not everyone else can. While it’s certainly not beyond people to describe in detail the things being shown, it’s not for every single person in the world to look at, over and over again, and in terrible quality. While the Suicide Squad footage did make it in HD to the web rather quickly, the Deadpool trailer isn’t expected to do so for a few weeks, and the X-Men: Apocalypse footage not at all. Nobody’s entitled to see the footage, and it seemed pretty clear from Parker’s answer that it wasn’t intended to be shown to the audience at large.
Will this change the way studios approach Comic-Con? Will it lead to them clamming up at the big public events and save their wares for a more controlled environment? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.