Why haven’t the studios learned from The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers leaked trailers?

 Posted by: Brad Sturdivant

Over the past couple of months, we’ve had a rash of leaked trailers, starting with David Fincher’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (although this one may have been intentional), then going into MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (click the link to watch the trailer: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES), THE AVENGERS and finally, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.  One leaked trailer could be a fluke, but four leaked trailers for major blockbuster films means this is officially a problem.  Hollywood recognizes this is a problem, which is why they’ve spent a lot of time and money to police the internet and send violating websites strongly worded letters that they need to remove the content.

Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

But they’re going about this problem completely wrong.  Although I agree we as webmasters shouldn’t post pirated content like, the problem is that if only one site posts it, then everyone is at a disadvantage if they don’t post it.  And even if they managed to control every movie website, you’re still going to have random bloggers and forum members post the video.  The simple fact is that it’s too easy to post videos online now and once something leaks, policing it is nearly impossible and trying to only drives a wedge between the studios and movie fans.

 Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man

The other big initiative seems to come from tougher security around promo and press screenings.  First, an accredited critic is not going to pirate a trailer, film or film clip.  There’s too much to lose and if a writer has managed to obtain an official accreditation, they’re not going to risk losing it for a pirated trailer.  However, the random members of the public that get invited to these promo screenings to “raise awareness” don’t care and will (and do) actively try to record anything they can.  Even if you stop the video, you can’t stop them from recording the audio.  In short, it’s a losing battle and one that has proven to be ineffective at stopping pirated promotional material.

Dark Knight Rises Teaser Trailer

The answer is for all of the Hollywood studios to make some slight changes to their marketing strategy.  Hollywood shouldn’t be fighting online media outlets, they should be debuting their trailers through online media outlets.  Why in the world would France get a first look at MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4 nearly a whole week before it debuted to American audiences?  What possible strategy would that support?  Debut it through one of the bigger online media outlets and it will be posted on all the movie sites within an hour.  Instead, millions of people got their first taste of MI4, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN via a poor quality, pirated video clip.

Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Online media (not just movie sites, but ALL movie fans with Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and blogs) are not the enemy.  If used properly, online media can be a great (and free) way of debuting a movie trailer and spreading word of mouth about your film.  If the RIAA (music industry) has taught us anything, it’s that waging a war against your fans is not a good business case.  Embrace the glory of the internet and for Pete’s sake; don’t debut trailers in small, foreign markets.

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