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Where in the galaxy is Han Solo?
With director Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story set to open May 25, fans are awaiting the promotional campaign for the Lucasfilm project to begin. Alden Ehrenreich stars as the iconic smuggler and Donald Glover is playing Lando Calrisian. It’s unusual for a film of this magnitude not to have given a first-look yet, but what if the wait will make the reward all the sweeter? The team at Heat Vision takes a closer look.
Ryan Parker: I have to assume the first footage will drop during the Super Bowl. It is pretty amazing that we have seen zero official images — outside of Ron Howard’s Twitter teases — for this film. If the trailer is the first glimpse we see, that’d be a first. I cannot remember a Star Wars film where that was the case. Even Phantom Menace had spreads in magazines before the trailer dropped.
Graeme McMillan: Phantom Menace had the poster with little Jake Lloyd and the Darth Vader shadow! I remember that remarkably clearly, and how excited it made me. Weirdly enough, I feel like even before the trailer dropped, there were Phantom Menace toys everywhere, and that’s how I learned about a lot of the characters. Maybe I’m misremembering, but toys — and the fact that my roommate at the time was buying them all, convinced it was his way to become rich (Hi, Sunny) — seemed unusually central to the Phantom Menace teases. But when it comes to Solo, I haven’t even even heard about the toys! Where are they? Or the novels, or the comics?
Aaron Couch: In a way, isn’t it refreshing that there’s been nothing? Look at recent films like Justice League and Blade Runner 2049, which went the opposite route and did way more than the standard three trailers, so many that they blurred together and it was hard to keep track of what parts of it were new and what had been shown in previous trailers. The Last Jedi is just five weeks old, and differentiating the two must be a priority (remember, Rogue One was firmly in the rearview mirror before The Last Jedi promotion picked up). Putting out a Star Wars movie six months after the previous film is new territory, and reminds me of Marvel learning to navigate releasing three movies in a year, as it did for the first time in 2017. Marvel devised distinct campaigns for Guardians, Spider-Man and Thor. It’s a little tougher with Star Wars, since it’s not like one movie will star a teen from Queens and the next will star a Norse God. Still, Marvel has been able to put Black Panther front and center in part of the Avengers: Infinity War trailer while also promoting the Black Panther solo film, so I’m sure when the promotions pick up, audiences will get this is something different from The Last Jedi.
Parker: I am all about the smaller glimpse into these movies that Disney seems to be going for, like they did with The Last Jedi. Trailers have gotten out of control. There are far too many and too much is revealed. Not only that, but then you have fans who take the trailers apart and guess what will happen in the film. I theorized one of the reasons some hated The Last Jedi was their favorite fan theory based off the trailers didn’t pan out.
McMillan: While there’s no doubt this is intentional — it’s not as if Disney has just forgotten to release preview images — it’s also really unusual; Rogue One had its first image of the cast in costume out more than a year before the movie, and its first trailer eight months out. How have we still not seen what Donald Glover looks like as Young Lando yet? There’s “don’t spoil the movie” secrecy, sure, but what would it spoil to show the cast in costume? The lack of promotion just seems odd. This isn’t Cloverfield.
Couch: It’ll be interesting to note how much nostalgia plays into the marketing. There’s a lot of excitement for seeing Lando again, and in particular for seeing Glover’s take on the character. But we saw Harrison Ford’s Han Solo just two years ago, and just got Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon in The Last Jedi, so there may not be the same level of hunger for the character as for folks we haven’t seen as recently. With Rogue One, it’d been since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith that we’d gotten Darth Vader on the big screen, so highlighting him in the trailers really worked. It’s a little trickier to trade on the nostalgia factor for this film, but there’s no question that Lando should be a no-brainer in terms of whom to highlight for this one.
Parker: What does it say if there is not a trailer by the Super Bowl? I am not sure. Seems to me it would be cutting it pretty close to the release of the movie. But then again, Star Wars films sell themselves. And it’s not like anyone out there doesn’t know this movie is happening.
Couch: My favorite Super Bowl movie moment ever was the Avengers spot in 2012. I definitely have my hopes up that Solo will not only get a spot, but be up there among the best. But hey, if it drops this week attached to Maze Runner, that’s great, too.
McMillan: Anecdotally, while people know the movie is happening, they don’t know that it’s happening in four months. If there’s no trailer by the Super Bowl, then I think the narrative that the movie is a mess will start to take over — the idea that the reshoots couldn’t fix it, and the movie’s just something that Disney is embarrassed about. But if the studio has decided to go into this remarkably quietly, is bad word-of-mouth really going to stop it from being a success?
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Jon M. Chu