Not hype. Not buzz.
Through giving away just enough but not too much of a brilliant idea, Gravity’s trailers, posters and internet presence built stress and suspense so wildly emotional and contagious that movie goers this weekend did not merely want to see it as soon as they could. They needed to.
Using another example, try to imagine how many people would have been excited to see The Avengers without the tie-in films, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. That film is a box office flop regardless of how good it is without the build-up.
The characters created an emotional connection – between the audience and the film they were waiting for, as well as between the audience and the comic book versions of the characters they grew up with. The anticipation for how the Avengers film would tie them all together is what made the film a success.
With the exception of the first Iron Man, those films were terrible. They looked cool and there was a ton of action, but the writing and final product mattered less than getting them out and setting up the big payoff, which was good. They were all ally-oops for The Avengers’ emphatic slam dunk.
Gravity created a similar feeling of anticipation using different – less expensive – tactics.
The filmmakers stated with a fantastic premise, made amazing trailers, added interactive website and social media experiences and skimped on nothing.
So why do both of these approaches work? Would they work with anything? The answers, respectively, are, because there is one common trait they both share, and no.
Both of these films have something many films lack: A compelling story.
The Avengers is a timeless tale with strong characters and Gravity is only the most terrifying premise for any film you have ever heard of. Without the strong and necessary backbone of substance all of the buzz, hype, drama and suspense in the world cannot save you.
— by Jeff Osborn