Sony Takes Down Leaked Unfinished Spider-Man Trailer, Releases Finished One Days Later

from the its-advertising-you-dolts dept

We've talked plenty of times in the past about instances in which publishers of content, typically movies, get copyright takedowns performed on trailers. These takedowns are, frankly, never a great idea, but they are particularly stupid when companies like Marvel, Disney, and Warner Bros. takedown trailers, otherwise known as advertisements, and then release an identical or nearly identical trailer days later. What in the actual hell is the point of that? Killing off your own word of mouth and free advertising for your film?

Now, Sony just went through this experience itself, having attempted to DMCA to death a leaked and, importantly, unfinished trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The way in which the trailer apparently leaked is obviously a concern. It surfaced via the video sharing app TikTok and immediately went viral, but it wasn’t long before Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube had nabbed it. The trailer footage was clearly cut before most of the VFX were added, and was presented in the kind of disastrous way that would give Christopher Nolan nightmares – with a phone filming another phone screen filming another screen – but that didn’t stop fans getting the gist of the trailer.

So, part of the desire to put the trailer genie back in the bottle was surely the unfinished nature of the trailer and some of the fan reactions to seeing it without special effects being added in. So, does that make Sony's decision to try and DMCA it out of existence the right move?

Hell no. And there are several reasons why. The first and most obvious is that, not surprisingly, it didn't freaking work. You can still today go out on several sites and find the leaked version of the trailer. There are YouTube videos and videos on other platforms of the trailer being shown and discussions being had about its contents. In fact, you could rightly suggest that Sony trying to kill the trailer generated even more buzz around it, leading even more people to watch than might have otherwise. The Streisand Effect at work, in other words. So, one strike against this move was how ineffectual and counterproductive it was.

But then note that Sony dropped the official and finished trailer days later. And the coverage of the official release was generally quite positive. The story incorporates the MCU's multiverse, perhaps most famously utilized in another Spider-Man related film, Into the Spiderverse, in which there are multiple realities in which different personalities are in control of different superheroes who make different decisions.

So imagine for a moment that we live in such a multiverse, something that is a studied possibility. What if there were another universe in which Sony's lawyers, instead of trying to ineffectually un-leak a widely shared trailer for a hot property, said instead something like this:

Hey, Spider-Man and Marvel fans! We know an unfinished version of 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' leaked yesterday. We didn't authorize the leak because the work on it wasn't completed. In fact, it looks a hell of a lot different than what we actually have prepared for you. But we also know how passionate you all are as fans, so we're guessing a great many of you went out and watched it. That's awesome! We love how much you love Spider-Man!

And that's why we definitely want you to see the finished version. Unlike the leaked version, the official trailer adds in the awesome effects you can expect when you actually go see the movie in theaters! In fact, we think you should definitely watch both trailers so that you get an idea of the insanely good work our effects studio does. See you in the theaters in December!

I wrote that in three minutes. How many billable hours did Sony's lawyers log instead failing to un-leak the previous trailer? And which move builds more good will in the community of Spider-Man fans? Which one had a greater positive effect?

The answer is obvious. And, yet, we still see studios trying to treat the internet as though it were a place where you can disappear content.

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Filed Under: copyright, dmca, no way home, spiderman, takedowns, trailers
Companies: sony


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 1:25am

    Re:

    "Not wanting a leaked unfinished trailer online when the official trailer is days away is a pretty reasonable position"

    In terms of strict adherence to copyright law, sure. In terms of its spirit or actual effect on the market, it's utter nonsense.

    Basically, almost nobody who isn't already a hardcore fan counting down the days until they're allowed to pay money to watch the full movie is going to bother downloading the incomplete trailer. Then, almost nobody is going to watch the unfinished trailer, then decide not to pay money on the basis of unfinished effect shots. We saw this with the workprint leak of Wolverine a few years back - the film was wildly successful even though people had a version of the full movie. A leak of an unfinished piece of marketing isn't going to cause any problems.


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