The release pattern for movie trailers can be so strange sometimes. On the one hand, the big blockbusters usually get their first (of many) trailers released months in advance, if not a whole year early. Hell, even the lower budgeted stuff usually releases their first bit of promotion three to five months before the film actually comes out. But then you have those odd occasions in which a studio opts not to release a movie’s trailer until, like, a month before the movie comes out.
There’s a few reasons this method of promotion can be utilized. Very often, it’s because the movie doens’t look very good, and the distributor knows it. So why waste money with a lengthy ad campaign if you’re going to just dump the thing in theaters anyways? But considering that The Post is the next movie from director Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, quality is probably not the reasoning here.
No, the far more likely outcome for The Post’s late ad campaign start is that the movie is actually VERY good — or at least good enough on paper for Fox to believe it could be a big Oscar hopeful. And since an Oscar ad campaign should be at its prime around late December or January (right before nominations are announced), a distributor can sometimes chose until way closer to a movie’s release before kicking off an ad campaign in earnest.
Still though, even by those standard, the first The Post trailer has taken A LONG time to come out, with the movie keeping a low profile overall. No festival runs, a late in the year release, and a lack of real marketing until now made the film not seem like an Oscar potential. But from the actual trailer itself, that’s clearly not the case. In fact, the trailer might be arguing that point a little too much.
Which, hey, is fair — when promoting a movie, using the argument “Look how OSCAR this looks!” certainly isn’t the worst gambit in the world. But The Post trailer is very much presenting itself as Oscar bait, with every single fiber of its being. There’s the STARS (who are so big they are known as just “Hanks” and “Streep” on the poster.) And there’s the subject matter, which is presented as THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD throughout the entirety of the two minute trailer. And it’s not even just the one thing either — freedom of the press is also combined with women’s rights, as Meryl Streep’s role as the first female publisher of a major newspaper is played up throughout this first trailer.
Which, once again, I can’t begrudge the trailer on — both these issues are obviously still very important today, and the relevancy of the material is certainly one of the reasons the movie got made in the first place. But combined with the rousing music and big, gravity defining pull quotes (“If you publish, it could be at the Supreme Court next week,” “Nixon will muster the full power of the president and, if there’s a way to destroy you, BY GOD, he’ll find it!”, etc.), it paints a trailer that almost swerves into self parody. Then again, it could just be decades of seeing Oscar-y ad material like this that jades me so. After so long, it’s hard not to see the strings being pulled.
Motions of the trailer aside though, I still remain hugely excited for this. Though Spielberg’s output in the last half decade or so isn’t as exciting as it has been in the past…dude can still direct the hell out of these historical Oscar bait films. After all, Bridge of Spies was da bomb. And Lincoln? Lincoln was MY SHIT, man. Combined with probably the best cast for a movie in 2017 (seriously, go look at its IMDB page, it’s crazy), and my anticipation for The Post is still pretty high.
The trailer didn’t exactly push me towards getting excited for it more but, hey, some movies are hard to really sell in a two minute trailer. And an exploration of the legal conflict between journalists and the government certainly fits the bill in that regard. But, thankfully, in The Post’s case, it doesn’t have to sell me — I’ve been on board since the beginning.
…That being said, would it have killed you to throw some more Carrie Coon in here, trailer? She wasn’t even a part of the credits at the end! AND she’s portraying a woman named Meg Greenfield, who Wikipedia described as a Washington Post editorial writer “known for her wit.” CARRIE COON. PLAYING A WITTY CHARACTER. That could have been your whole trailer, The Post! THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH!
The Post will hit theaters in limited release on December 22, before expanding wide January 12.
Also published on Medium.