Every once in a while a movie trailer comes along that makes me want to read the book. I think the thing that impressed me about this six minute trailer for Cloud Atlas is the way the studio hasn’t folded on its marketing efforts for a film which won’t be easy to sell. Clearly there is some money behind the movie, but it is a bit of a genre buster. It has science fiction elements and historical fiction in the same film. All of it built as set pieces from which we can ask grand storytelling questions about love, life, and the interconnected nature of existence. Sounds great for a book, but for a movie, this is a high risk endeavor. The risk is that the public won’t understand the grandeur of the film in thirty second TV spots or a traditional trailer. So a couple of days ago, they released a visually stunning extended version of their trailer.
They have also done several other things right. They have talent working on the film. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry will definitely sell tickets. Did I mention Hugo Weaving and cameos by Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant? Oh, and it has been directed as a team by Tom Tykwer from Run Lola Run and the Wachowski brothers of Matrix fame. Can you go wrong with that?… Yes. Yes, you can — Matrix Revolutions, anyone? Or… You will create something amazing. Either way it is risky, but if you are going to take on something this complex, you better shoot for the moon. These directors can get you there.
Unlike Disney’s mistake with the John Carter marketing, Warner Brothers hasn’t backed away from trying to tell the story of the film in its trailers. So we at least know the studio hasn’t given up on the project. Will it work? One thing is for sure: based on internet buzz, the new extended trailer worked. We’ll know whether or not the movie worked in October. Before then, I plan to have read Cloud Atlas so that I can compare.
A tip of the hat to io9 for pointing the way to the trailer. If you head over there you can find a bunch of screen captures which give you a better look at the film.