The marketing campaign for the next installment of the Star Wars franchise began on Friday, when the first footage of “The Last Jedi” was revealed at Star Wars Celebration Orlando and quickly released to fans worldwide.
The teaser was met with excitement by fans, and quickly surpassed 26 million views on the Star Wars YouTube channel over the same weekend. Clocking in at barely two minutes long, the teaser doesn’t reveal too much of the new film — and that’s just the way it should be.
The footage starts with a scare as protagonist Rey’s hand suddenly slams onto the floor while she struggles for breath, followed by the iconic Lucasfilm logo, just like the first teaser for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
We see the same grassy mountain island that Rey visited at the conclusion of “The Force Awakens.” As hinted at by the previous film’s ending, she’s training with Luke Skywalker, the hero of the original Star Wars trilogy. The rocks levitating near her hand imply that she’s using “the force,” which we briefly saw her do in the last film.
The returns of heroes Finn and Poe Dameron, villains Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma, adorable droid BB-8 and spaceship battles are promised. Everything in the trailer is new footage, but none of it is new information to viewers – at least not until the ending.
“I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end,” Skywalker says, ending the teaser with a mysterious cliffhanger.
This twist is sure to shock fans and leave them with many questions about what this means or why this would be said. But, it doesn’t answer either of those questions. In fact, nothing in this teaser is particularly enlightening. Even Skywalker’s line regarding the Jedi ending becomes less shocking when considering the title of the film, “The Last Jedi.” It’s hard to believe Disney would be willing to kill off the Jedi, an iconic part of the company’s newest cash crop, but it does seem like a bold move that implies Disney is willing to take the franchise in new directions.
This teaser works so well because it promises more of the “Star Wars” action that fans love without showing viewers what happens in the new film. It doesn’t use any of the common trends seen in movie marketing like somber covers of popular songs or an overdramatic build-up to an action scene that’s then spoiled. The teaser is selling you the idea of seeing and hearing “Star Wars,” using only elements from the movie itself, including its iconic soundtrack. It gives you a sense of what the movie is, and promises that its Christmas Day release is when any questions viewers are left with will be answered.
More movie trailers should take this “less is more” approach. Don’t show viewers the movie before they pay you, sell them on what watching this movie will feel like. Sell viewers on the idea that this Star Wars will satisfy them as much if not more than it has before.