A Lesson Learned at Comic Con

The execs at Warner Bros. were allegedly furious about what happened at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con.  They had shown footage of their upcoming DC Entertainment supervillain movie Suicide Squad to a crowd of eager fans in Hall H (the biggest room in the convention space), but someone illegally recorded it and posted it on YouTube. Fear ran rampant that millions of people's first impressions of the movie would be the grainy bootleg. Media pundits quickly began pontificating that this might scare off movie studios from participating in future conventions, or from at least offering early tidbits in order to avoid the risk of leaks.  The real lesson should be that studios need to have a stronger marketing strategy and should come to Comic Con better prepared instead of being angered by fans sharing sneak footage of films they're excited to see.

Warner Bros. begrudgingly distributed a clean copy of the Suicide Squad teaser a few days later.  The problem shouldn't be that the general public has tiny video-recording smartphone devices that allow them to instantly post content online for all the world to see.  The problem is that the studio didn't already plan to release this footage as part of a package anyway.

Disney did a far better job with a masterful video segment about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Not only did the panel discussion and video delight Comic Con attendees, it whetted the appetites for fans around the world. This is how it's done! Attendees at Comic Con are the dieheards of the fan community. They are passionate about comics, movies, and TV shows, and they will be the studios greatest ambassadors for upcoming projects. It makes sense to offer them exclusive content at Comic Con -- live appearances by celebrities, props and costumes on display, photo opportunities, early merchandise, and of course video footage that no one has seen before.  Then, share that footage with the world at large, let everyone know it debuted at Comic Con.  Everybody is happy.

The excellent article on FilmSchoolRejects.com by Neil Miller, titled "The Answer to Comic-Con Bootlegs Is Not More Security," touches on all of this and rightfully concludes "Studios need to come to Comic-Con with a better plan for how they are going to roll out their footage. They need to bring something they are prepared to roll out immediately to the world at-large. And if they aren’t ready to do so, then frankly they shouldn’t show."

As for the Suicide Squad trailer itself, it looks excessively dark, but it fits the intriguing premise -- imprisoned villains are recruited by a secret government agency to complete a dangerous mission in exchange for clemency. Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinneman, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbage all look fine in their roles as Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Enchantress, Captain Boomerang, Rick Flagg, and Killer Croc. Viola Davis seems perfect as Amanda Waller, and Jared Leto seems ready to steal the show as the new version of the Joker. There's even an appearance by Ben Affleck as Batman.

So Warner Bros. need not have worried. The leaked footage didn't destroy expectations about the movie, although if box office results somehow end up being less than projected you can be sure that they will use any excuse available to them.

Suicide Squad comes out on August 5, 2016 in theaters everywhere.