Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Life in Fandom: Rogue One Teaser Hits

Rogue One is the story of how the first Death Star's plans came to reach Princess Leia immediately prior to the opening of A New Hope. Unlike the main saga, this stand-alone story shifts genres from the line separating Space Opera from Science Fantasy to the line separating Space Opera from Techno-Thriller.

That's because this is a heist film with a secondary thread of espionage. Adjust your expectations accordingly. If you see anyone with a lightsaber wielding the Force, it's going to be Darth Vader (and you're about to see someone have a very bad day). This is a big deal. It's a big deal because it means that Disney is taking a chance.

Up until this point the Star Wars brand is a Fantasy brand as much as it is a Science Fiction brand. The films--which is what the majority go by, and a significant number of the games are the same way--are in that vein. Rogue One introduces something that only a minority of fans have familiarity with: using Star Wars for other genres of fiction.

This may not go over well. That means it's a marketing challenge, since they have to blend the existing fanbase with Techno-Thriller/Spy fans to ensure a maximum possible audience will see it. They have to ensure that the film hits big, so they can't pull a Deadpool and go to a hard R rating (or local equivalent), so expect PG-13.

If they're smart, they'll have already resorted to the best possible approach: Don't Suck.

They have to have their writing on point. They have to have the right actors in the right roles. Those actors need top-tier direction, and those roles need to fit together like a racer, because their performance has to be solid and flawless- Oscar-caliber stuff. The entire package has to deliver, or this stand-alone series blows up at liftoff.

And Disney is right to be concerned. Previous wanderings off the reservation have had terrible reactions (the Vong being the worst of them), and took years to clean up (and some, like the Vong, had to be nuked out of continuity). The fandom, by and large, is very conservative; it wants what got them into it and little else will be tolerated. If marketing is incompetent, the film could fail to meet expectations- and in Hollywood, that IS failure.

So, while manufactured outrage for clickbait goes on, calm down and watch the PR campaign. Look for how they frame the movie and its cast. That's where the vital info will be, short of an insider spilling the beans (and if you know where to look, you will find that also; I knew about The Force Awakens's plot months in advance because of that). Until we have context, images are just sizzle without steak (or stake).

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