Tale of two trailers

I wonder how much productivity was killed this week by the arrival of the Batman v Superman and Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers?

In my office, where we have desk space reserved for action figure battles, everything came to a halt on Thursday when the latter was streamed online during Star Wars Celebration. I saw tweets from people I follow who said they’d put the trailer on repeat and spent the afternoon breaking down every frame. Ain’t nothin wrong with that.

The money shot from the "Force Awakens" trailer.
The money shot from the “Force Awakens” trailer.

But for me, Star Wars was just the appetizer. Although I got goose bumps during the trailer, I’m still having trouble channeling my inner Jedi. I loved the first trilogy as a kid, and got into the books in the 90s, but I’ve never been a die-hard devotee. The last trilogy may have cut me too deep. I have no doubt The Force Awakens will be a return to greatness, but some memories are hard to flush out of your mind. Perhaps it’s still too early. I haven’t even gone full Avengers mode yet, as I’m still coming down from my Furious 7 cloud.

It’s not too early, however, for me to freak out over Batman v Superman. That teaser wasn’t supposed to debut until early next week – a fact that I kept trying to erase from my brain so the wait wouldn’t bother me so much.

Batman revealed.
Batman revealed.

I’m sure a lot of people weren’t surprised when that bootlegged, subtitled version wound up online late Thursday night. I was surprised, however, by the amount of negativity thrown its way. Nobody can even see the thing and they’re hating all over it.

The blurry version was posted to the Now Playing Podcast page on Friday morning, igniting a daylong debate over whether the finished film is garbage. Fans who felt they were burned by Man of Steel are ready to hate Batman v Superman, and not being able to see the teaser in full context just gave them more (imaginary) ammunition.

That’s why it was even less of a surprise to see director Zack Snyder tweet a polished version of the teaser Friday afternoon, days ahead of a planned theatrical debut event. I can’t imagine how many studio, theater, marketing, and public relations folks are furious the event got spoiled. Hopefully, Warner Bros can make the same move Marvel did when the Age of Ultron trailer leaked, and release another trailer with additional footage in the coming weeks.

Although I had the same issues everyone else did with Man of Steel, I’m all in for this sequel, because it’s all about Batman. I can’t believe we have to wait another year for this flick.

Affleck. Unblurred.
Affleck. Unblurred.

Everything stopped in my office again when the teaser was released Friday afternoon, but this time the reaction was different. Some of my co-workers just gave it a “meh” and said Star Wars did it better.

I say they’re two different flicks. One is full of hope and nostalgia; the other is dark and ominous. They’re not selling the same movie, that’s why I don’t think you need to poll the public on which one is better, as if they were going head-to-head the same weekend.

Since I brought it up, a glance at Wikipedia’s 2016 in Film calendar shows Batman v Superman opening March 25 against a Beverly Hills Cop sequel that I can’t ever see happening. And if it does happen, it’s not getting released that same weekend.

That means a clear field until May 6, when Captain America: Civil War hits. I gotta start getting excited for that one too.

Around the Web:

io9 breaks down Every Key Detail and Killer Moment from the Batman v Superman teaser.

Blurry or unblurred, some Now Playing Podcast fans still split on Affleck.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Graeme McMillan wonders where to start with the new Star Wars trailer.

McMillan also penned this piece on fan reaction to the leaked Batman v Superman teaser.

Everyone picked up on the “My father has it” line from the Force Awakens trailer, and here Entertainment Weekly looks for signs that Darth Vader is still alive.

And, Furious 7 is the fastest film ever to $1 billion. Awesome.

After ‘Corn’ lows, ‘Now Playing’ turns to Nolan

An edited version of this post first appeared on the Venganza Media Gazette

Now Playing Podcast host Arnie Carvalho once read an email from a listener urging him to review only bad movies because it leads to funnier conversations.

“He said we should just be a comedy show,” the film critic said from his Manhattan hotel room on Saturday, while on a break from covering New York Comic Con.

Did that listener have a point?

“None of us wants that,” Carvalho answered. “We enjoy covering all types of movies, but if we only watched low-rent trash I think our souls would die.”

It’s a marvel he and his Now Playing co-hosts — Stuart Atkinson and Jakob Brewster – even have any life left in them after enduring nine films based on Stephen King’s Children of the Corn.

This week’s review of Children of the Corn: Genesis not only marks the climax of the Corn saga, but also an exhausting exploration of King’s Night Shift collection; more than two dozen reviews of mostly forgettable film adaptations like The ManglerGraveyard Shift and Trucks.

Few films in the Night Shift series have been worthy of a recommend, but that hasn’t kept hardcore Now Playing listeners from making the show one of the highest rated on iTunes throughout 2014, with seven of the nine Corn reviews appearing in the Top 10 rankings for TV/Film podcasts.

“I really expected listenership to drop off as we got deep in those fields,” Carvalho said. “But our listeners are awesome.”

“I only half-jokingly say more people downloaded our review of Children of the Corn 7 than actually saw Children of the Corn 7.”

With Night Shift in the rear view, Now Playing Podcast launches its next retrospective on Tuesday: A five-episode study of director Christopher Nolan’s filmography, leading up to next month’s Interstellar.

After considering other horror properties to follow Corn — including Hellraiser and The Amityville Horror — Carvalho shifted gears and lobbied hard for a director-focused retrospective, targeting Nolan after Now Playing previously covered his Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception.

“The hosts needed some meatier films to chew on, and I also think listeners want to hear about movies they’ve actually seen,” he joked. “With the good movies we usually can have deeper conversations about filmmaking, themes, and intent.”

“The problem with the Corn series was that by the 9th film there was nothing left to say, it’s like the old joke about the definition of insanity.”

Now Playing Podcast hasn’t released its 2015 schedule, but Carvalho is already teasing a return to King in the New Year, along with some familiar franchises with big sequels in the works.

“It’s a huge year for blockbusters and there’s no way we can get them all in; we’re still discussing which ones we will review,” he said. “And there will be some actually good King movies, like The Dead Zone and Creepshow, to fill the gaps in between.”

‘Cap 3’ to challenge ‘Batman-Superman’

These are the kind of behind-the-scenes Hollywood moves I love.

Early this morning I read that Disney and Marvel Studios would not back down from a May 2016 release date for their next superhero tentpole, despite Warner Bros. moving its Batman-Superman flick to the traditional “Marvel May.”

Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel has thrown down the gauntlet. Not only will it not back off May, it’s deploying Captain America (the studio’s second most-popular character, after Iron Man) to challenge Batman and Superman on the very same day: May, 6, 2016.

Awesome.

Would-be blockbusters have gone head-to-head in the past, but in the era of the superhero, this is unprecedented. These are make-or-break franchises for both studios, and Marvel is packing more ammunition.

The buzz surrounding this year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier feels bigger than any Marvel flick since The Avengers in 2012. By summer 2016, Cap will be coming off an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will have expanded into Phase Three with Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man.

Marvel also has a television presence with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Netflix is set to debut its Defenders series’ in 2015.

Warner, despite being the home of Batman, has yet to launch the first sequel in its superhero series. There’s no question Batman-Superman has buzz, especially with the polarizing casting choice of Ben Affleck as Batman.

(For the record, I’ve always liked Ben Affleck, can’t wait)

Unfortunately, the studio doesn’t have any other hero franchises raising awareness during the long wait for the Man of Steel sequel — not unless you count television’s Arrow, and the yet-to-debut series’ The Flash and Gotham.

So who blinks first? Will there even be blinking?

I tweeted earlier today that no matter what happens, the publicity surrounding this faceoff will benefit both studios, and again, both movies should be blockbusters.

But really, Marvel is holding all the cards. Warner Bros. should quietly change the release date and get to work on world-building. Otherwise, the studio better have a serious plan to counter the Disney marketing machine.

This should be good.

Batman-Superman moves in on ‘Marvel May’

tu-batman-supermanSummer 2015 just got a little less crowded.

Summer 2016 just got a whole lot more interesting.

Word came late Friday that Warner Bros. was pushing its biggest 2015 film, the still-untitled Batman-Superman team-up, back almost a full year.

The film will now hit theaters May 6, 2016.

While fans might protest the delay, there are two reasons Warner Bros. executives have reason to smile tonight.

First, they’ve saved their heroes from suffocating in one of the most crowded summer schedules in recent years.

Batman and Superman faced a three-pronged assault from Marvel Comics, which is headlining the summer with three films: Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, a rebooted Fantastic Four and the biggest of them all, Avengers: Age of Ultron.

If that wasn’t enough, new entries in the Fast & Furious, Terminator, Jurassic Park, Mad Max and Bourne franchises also threatened to steal some of the spotlight (and box office) from the DC heroes.

Warner is hoping to use Batman-Superman as a launch pad for a long-awaited Justice League film that could include Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Lantern.

Why steer that potential franchise into the frenzy and risk Batman-Superman becoming the “other superhero film” of the summer?

Friday’s announcement signals a strategy shift for Warner — a declaration that it will no longer be the runner-up in the annual summer of superheroes.

Marvel owns the month of May. Even before Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, the X-Men and Spider-Man were kicking off the summer movie season in May, and breaking box office records with sequel after sequel.

Now, the DC heroes are moving in on “Marvel May” and planting a flag of their own.

If its rivals yield rather than defend their territory, Batman-Superman could have a clear field of two, possibly three weekends as the biggest heroes on the block.

Come to think of it, that’s a lot of time to win over new fans and lay the groundwork for future films.

Warner appears to be following the Avengers blueprint; perhaps they’re already maneuvering a second superhero tentpole to follow that same summer?

It worked for Marvel.