While marketing for Ridley Scott's upcoming film, "Prometheus," had to this point pretty well thought-out, 20th Century Fox may have committed a big gaffe.
An "international launch trailer" seeded on YouTube this weekend ran almost three minutes and gave away major plot points of a highly anticipated film. The director and marketing unit have been teasing American audiences for months, but for all Mr. Scott's suggestions that "Prometheus" wasn't simply a prequel to the "Alien" franchise, the trailer makes the movie look like just that .
And despite Mr. Scott's push to get the film rated PG-13, it might receive a "restricted" rating from the MPAA, considering the gory details in the trailer.
But, more important, the marketing, which so far has included some brilliant social and experiential moves, seems to have lost its way with this latest trailer.
While international launch trailers often can be different from those shown in the U.S. or U.K., owing to the fact that many consumers in other countries may not understand certain references or plot points, seeding this on YouTube means everyone with online access potentially has a good grasp on what the film will be about.
The previous moves weren't overt trailers. Instead, they drew the audiences into the world of Prometheus. Take the short film for "Happy Birthday, David," which introduced the next-generation android robot, played by Michael Fassbender, previously teased in a "David 8" viral video in March. The short, directed by Johnny Hardstaff, was positioned as an ad for the fictitious Weyland Corp.
Dedicated websites accompanying the video brought you into the world of Prometheus to tour the ship or learn more about the company.
There was also a stunt at TED 2012 in Long Beach, Calif., where the audience was treated to Mr. Scott's vision of what a TED Talk from 2023 might look like, through a video starring Guy Pearce. Directed by Mr. Scott's son, Luke Scott, the video was a nice example of what viral marketing should look like.
Online comments are already bemoaning the plot spoilers in the launch trailer, with people saying they are trying not to watch it or that they simply won't see the movie now that they know what happens.
Representatives for 20th Century Fox did not respond to requests for comment.
What do you think? Is the discordant marketing a giant mistake? Or is it the only way the movie can make sure to get the maximum number of people in theaters on opening night? Tell us in the comments.