Look, I know we all love a good “Star Wars” hype session, but it really is important to keep things in perspective right now while we’re all basking in the first trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It is, admittedly, a very cool trailer. The style on display is really striking, as is the new balanced philosophy of the Force it seems to be presenting.
But instead of getting overly excited about what we saw today, we should take a step back and remember that “Star Wars” marketing is hardly trustworthy these days. Personally, I’m more wary of “Star Wars” marketing now than I’ve ever been before — and that’s saying something after the disastrous prequel era.
My skepticism is certainly warranted. Marketing for the prequels wasn’t full of scenes that weren’t in those movies. The trailers for “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One,” on the other hand, very much were.
While “The Force Awakens” set off warning bells for the absence of seemingly significant trailer dialogue and scenes here and there, “Rogue One” took that to another level completely. We are, after all, talking about a movie which was still including scenes that were cut in TV spots through its release in theaters. My friends and I went to a bar after our first viewing, and were very amused to see a commercial on TV featuring multiple scenes that didn’t make the cut. It’s pretty hard not to be cynical after that!
More pertinent to this first “Last Jedi” trailer, though, is that the vast majority of the stuff in the initial trailer for “Rogue One” ended up on the cutting room floor. It was actually pretty shocking to go back and watch that trailer again after seeing the movie — I knew some things were missing, but didn’t quite realize that much was gone. Sequences and shots that were at the center of “Rogue One” marketing from that trailer onward — the shot of the titular heist crew running on the beach of Scarib toward Imperial walkers springs immediately to mind — were extremely notable for their absence from the movie itself.
There was, of course, a pretty obvious reason for why that turned out to be the case. It was hardly a secret that “Rogue One” underwent significant rewrites and reshoots (though to what degree is up for debate), some of which was said to have continued after that first trailer was revealed last April. The plot of the movie changed enough that a bunch of scenes became obsolete. Including that money shot of our heroes running on the beach. during the big battle. In the finished film, the main heroes, Jyn and Cassian, never even fought on the ground at all during that battle, so it made sense that it no longer fit.
Not that we’re ever going to be happy about that, since, as mentioned above, they continued to use that shot in the marketing until the movie was released.
And so it’s hard to look at this first trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and have any real feelings about it. By the time the movie comes out in December all or significant amounts of this stuff could be rendered obsolete. There’s no reason to assume that this time will be different, and that LucasFilm will base its marketing campaign on things that are actually in the movie. Until the movie comes out we can’t know for sure.
So, for now, you’d be wise to take this first trailer for “The Last Jedi” with a grain of salt.