Why so serious, Warner Bros.?
The trailer for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (due in theaters on August 5, 2016) was, according to Warner Bros., supposed to be a Comic-Con exclusive. And indeed, those who did the camping out to enter Hall H at the right time were treated to the very first public exhibition of said trailer. After a few days of trying to put the kibosh on every leaked bootleg of the trailer (of which there were no doubt hundreds), WB conceded and released it themselves in a high-quality format. Here it is:
Warner Bros. didn’t want to release this. Indeed, Sue Kroll, the worldwide marketing president at WB was quoted as saying
Warner Bros. Pictures and our anti-piracy team have worked tirelessly over the last 48 hours to contain the Suicide Squad footage that was pirated from Hall H on Saturday. We have been unable to achieve that goal. Today we will release the same footage that has been illegally circulating on the web, in the form it was created and high quality with which it was intended to be enjoyed. We regret this decision as it was our intention to keep the footage as a unique experience for the Comic Con crowd, but we cannot continue to allow the film to be represented by the poor quality of the pirated footage stolen from our presentation.
I understand Warner’s desire to keep their trailer exclusive – it makes the display at Comic-Con something a little more special than a typical press release – but displaying it in front of the thousands of people in Hall H at Comic-Con isn’t exactly the best way to stay discreet. Indeed, studios should be immediately cognizant of how merciless Con audiences can be when it comes to staying tight-lipped. No one can keep a secret at Comic-Con, and I’m willing to bet numerous bootleg videos of the trailer were posted before the panel was even over.
WB may have displayed a small amount of stinging resentment at the bootleggers (a more indelicate person would say “butthurt”), and that may be a bit baffling. Comic-Con exclusives, thanks to the internet, are only going to be exclusive for a few seconds. What Comic-Con audiences get is a few seconds of leeway, and a chance to see celebrities in person. They also get to feed off of the nerdy, energetic enthusiasm in the room. Studios should, perhaps, plan for this sort of thing.
Your new plan: If you really want to premiere a trailer, but keep the affair under-wraps, hide when and where it’s going to be shown. Only invite 50 people, and search them for recording devices. Show the trailer in an off-site location. And then have people write about it without having access to the video footage. Discretion is a difficult game in the age of media ultra-saturation, but it can be played gracefully. WB wasn’t so graceful. But at least we get the trailer now.
And, wow. It’s pretty cool looking.
Witney Seibold is a regular contributor to CraveOnline, where he co-hosts The B-Movies Podcast. He is also a contributor to Legion of Leia and Topless Robot. You can find him on “The Twitter” at @WitneySeibold.