To be honest, it feels like the studios just don't care anymore.
There was a time starting in the late '90s where each year, the Super Bowl trailers were bigger and more amazing. The studios really pulled out all the stops to try to dazzle this gigantic captive audience, and this Sunday, on what should have been the biggest Super Bowl show of all time, everything felt perfunctory. Phoned in. Just one more commercial or trailer or spot.
I liked the Jason Bourne spot. “When the world is at war, we need the perfect weapon” seems like a pretty good line to reintroduce Matt Damon's superspy to the franchise that was as much a showcase for Paul Greengrass as it was for Damon. Having the two of them back makes this one of this summer's biggest events as far as I'm concerned. The commercial itself was fine. Didn't knock me out. I thought it was interesting there was footage in the ad that was shot within only the last few weeks (the Vegas stuff), and in general, it felt like a very early announcement trailer. They'll do bigger and better later.
The Captain America: Civil War spot was another one that I thought was good, but brief. I wish this had been the last no-holds-barred leave-it-all-out-there trailer, because I'm sure Marvel will have one more. This is another tease, and I'm certainly intrigued. I think it's looking better and better.
Considering how important the Super Bowl was to the first Independence Day, it felt like that trailer was a total whiff. There's nothing about that imagery that stood out from the general wave of “entire cities being destroyed” movies that seem to exist these days.
The X-Men: Apocalypse trailer was fine. There was one new shot of Olivia Munn as Psylocke that I thought was genuinely very cool, but otherwise, it feels like what we've already seen from the film.
For me, the real winner of the day wasn't even shown on TV. There was a very strange short version of the ad where Disney's marketing team tries to play with the aspect ratio and characters breaking out beyond it, but it's a strange effect on a TV, like simulated 3D, more distracting than anything. It was also very brief, but it said to look online for the full version…
… and sure enough, the full 2:27 trailer for The Jungle Book is a knockout. That movie's going to tear me up if they get it right. The kid playing Mowgli looks like they plucked him right out of the cartoon, and the way they're approaching the familiar Disney version with the Sherman Brothers songs and using “real” animals this time is beautiful. I think this looks like a real return to form by Jon Favreau, and the voice cast sounds great. Bill Murray as Baloo is perhaps on the nose and obvious, but it doesn't make him any less perfect. This is one of my favorite of the classic Disney movies, and I am genuinely excited to see this take on the story. And whether you're excited about the film or not, a full two-and-a-half minute trailer is the way they used to make an announcement about something they thought was a big deal.
So why was the best trailer of the day not even shown during the actual TV broadcast?
Like I said. I think it's just another stop in the promotional campaign now. The Super Bowl's not as super as it used to be, which raises the question: is there any single event moment now that can still unite and surprise an audience? Is there any event big enough to guarantee that everyone's watching?
The Jungle Book is in theaters April 15, 2016.
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters May 6, 2016.
X-Men: Apocalypse is in theaters May 27, 2016.
Jason Bourne is in theaters July 29, 2016.
Independence Day: Resurgence is in theaters June 24, 2016.