There was a great disturbance in the forceÂ today, as if millions of Star Wars fansÂ suddenly cried out in joy while tryingÂ to read Japanese.
Disney released a new trailer in Japan for the coming film, The Force Awakens, and the two-minute videoÂ included severalÂ snippets that had not yet been released in film’sÂ threeÂ precedingÂ previews. For the discerningÂ Japanese filmgoer, Disney saw fit to roll out cinematic space-crash scenery, storm troopers with flamethrowers, new names, more dialogue, and a closeup of Chewbaccaâ€™s hand (opposable thumb and all). Vast swaths of the Internet occupied by Star Wars fanatics predictably exploded with glee and speculation.
There is even a rash of YouTube reaction videos.Â If you can’t watch the movie and you’ve already watched the trailer, you will unquestionably want to watch someone else watching the trailer.Â Hereâ€™s the Japanese trailer:
And here’s the most recent U.S. trailer:
Itâ€™s not unusual for Hollywood to splice disparate trailers together with footage that highlights scenes of a movieÂ shot in a target market. For such franchises asÂ Furious and Transformers, in fact, setting scenes and production all over the world is a savvy exercise in audience building. With so muchÂ exotic footage in the can, editing variousÂ regional trailers becomes an exceedingly cheap and effective form of targeted marketing.
But Star Wars is set, well, a long time ago in a galaxy muchÂ farther from Los Angeles than Tokyo. Paul Dergarabedian, a senior analyst at Rentrak, said that trickling out unseenÂ footage outside the U.S. gives Disney a subtle way to signal to international fans that theyâ€™re a big part of the distribution strategyâ€”bigger than ever, in this case. JapanÂ behindÂ only the U.S. and China in box office revenue.
Disneyâ€™s Star Wars strategy has become an extended burlesque of robot porn. Every trailer and each new toyâ€“even advanced ticket salesâ€”has been a carefully crafted social media event. The Japanese trailer footage is just the latest part of the run-up. And fans are fine with that, according to Dergarabedian: â€œStar Wars is that rare breed of film that can instill an almost unprecedented amount of anticipation.”