About two weeks ago I stumbled on the phrase "perpetual sneak preview culture" to describe my frustration with the way movies are now sold online. Gone are the days of one trailer, one poster; now we're inundated with a non-stop barrage of clips and teasers and viral campaigns. Today's movie marketer is like that guy you know on Facebook who posts status updates about his bowel movements: they're such insane oversharers that they've killed any sense of mystery in your relationship. We've even started to see trailers for trailers — like this one for the remake of "Total Recall" — a practice that is so absurd it sounds like an article from "The Onion."
In short, perpetual sneak preview culture is getting out of hand. And, based on the drama unfolding today around a supercut made from the upcoming movie "The Amazing Spider-Man" — I suspect the movie studios know it. Someone on Twitter that goes by the handle The Sleepy Skunk recut every single "The Amazing Spider-Man" trailer and clip available on the Internet into an extended preview for the movie. And since Sony has bombarded the Internet with so many trailers and clips, we're talking a seriously extended preview — upwards of 25 minutes out of a 135 minute movie. That's 18% of the finished film. That truly is amazing.
The video began circulating on Twitter yesterday morning; soon after it was removed without warning from Vimeo for unspecified violations. Bear in mind, this wasn't a case of a bootlegger stealing the movie and uploading it to some torrent site — this so-called "super preview" consisted entirely of freely available footage. The Sleepy Skunk said the supercut was specifically intended as criticism:
"Instead of writing an op ed piece about how studios give away too much I used my editing skills to criticize with images rather than words."
The video has been reuploaded and re-removed on numerous occasions — at the moment, you can watch 18% of "The Amazing Spider-Man" here.
That link represents the smoking gun in the case of "Movie Lovers Vs. Perpetual Sneak Preview Culture." In one rather enormous nutshell, you see the problem: at a certain point you're no longer selling a movie, you're simply giving it away for free.