Okay, so it’s been making the rounds: TRON 2.0 a.k.a. TR2N is happening. Or it damn well better be, otherwise the fanboys are going to have Disney‘s ass.
The full news on what was shown and how it was handled was first broken, to my awareness, by Ain’t It Cool News. You can check out their stuff here.
The first word about a sequel to the original Tron came in the 80s. Back when I first generated a Tron 2.0 page over at Corona’s Coming Attractions in 1999, somebody sent in a scan from Electronic Games from 1982 where Disney apparently talked about two sequels, not just one. That image is no longer extant online from what I can tell. Corona broke the news that same year that Steven Lisberger had signed a deal to scribe the sequel but no word on directing. I know that since 1999 there’s been a kind of weak, wheezing buzz about the project, and copies of a Lisberger script have been running around.
But I didn’t ask you all here to talk about what has happened in the past. Instead, let’s do something we seldom do without mentioning the word “Pixar“: we’re going to praise Disney. Why? Because this “teaser” is the smartest way they could launch a Tron sequel.
[ad#longpost]First, they did the entire thing as a complete black box operation and didn’t allow any leaks. So they had this in their back pocket. An ace to play at a time of their choosing–and they chose their Disney panel where most people were there for Witch Mountain.
They didn’t announce what they were showing. They just played it.
Now, just surprising an audience with something isn’t that hard to do. But surprising them with something that delights and astonishes the shit out of them–that’s magic right there. That’s why we love movies.
I’m about to start listing stuff in the footage–so if you haven’t seen it, search online or in the trackbacks here if you’d like to watch it first. I’m not going to post any link here because Disney is still in “take down” mode and I have better things to do.
When the first wave of people realized they were watching some TRON footage is when the blue guy appears at fourteen seconds in. Bear in mind the audience doesn’t know what this is yet. But you can hear the first reaction there.
At twenty-five seconds in when the lightcycle appears–with what is truly a badass shot of the bar and the leap and all–then pretty much everybody knew: TRON footage. CG TRON footage. Most people are pleased.
It’s only at one-minute-forty-eight–when we see live-action Jeff Bridges–that the realization hits. This is not a teaser for a TRON video game. This is a brand new ball game. Especially since if Jeff Bridges is Flynn–what is he doing looking down on the computer world when he’s very obviously flesh and blood Flynn?
Now. This is enough. This is when people who Know are whipped into a manic frenzy of seeing something wicked cool. And this is when Disney can stop. If the teaser had ended there with TR2N coming up, I don’t think anyone would have felt cheated. But–to borrow a phrase from Gladwell–here comes the Tipping Point. Where we go from wicked cool to something everybody talks about.
I’m talking about the appearance, of course, at two-minutes-nineteen of the CG Jeff Bridges, followed by the deathstroke and the appearance of the 2. And listen to the crowds. You have Blown Their Minds.
This is something that has been forgotten. And this is what makes us love artists, creators, hell, even studios. But let’s take a moment to pity creators. And I’m saying this with all seriousness. If you go back and watch some of the greatest moments in horror movies or even stop motion sci-fi greatness like from Harryhausen, that stuff used to Blow Our Minds. Now it takes a lot more to Blow Our Minds. But if you do it, people will not be able to stop talking.
This teaser, even though it was only, as I understand it, a proof of concept reel, has sold this movie. All they have to do is make the movie and people will show up. Because you Blew People’s Minds. You surprised them, you delighted them, and then you went one step further: you got people talking and selling others…others who haven’t even seen the trailer but will then go and seek out the trailer. That’s what good trailers do. That’s what the 300 trailer did, that’s what the Iron Man trailer did. That is not what the Incredible Hulk trailer did.
And here’s the really amazing thing about this footage: it took people who were jaded about the concept of Disney doing a sequel to Tron and turned that around. Like, you know, me.
Now, what needs to come next. Disney has to come up with a script that will live up to the promise of the teaser. We know the FX capability is there and we know it has the potential to look good (really, these days, no movie has an excuse to not look good–but so few creators will actually spend the time), but now there has to be good writing–which is difficult, because studios tend to squeeze all the life and energy and fun out of scripts and if any escape the crusher it’s a rarity.
In the meantime, Disney: wait till this Thursday night, then release the high quality footage to the Net. Give it a week to buzz about and that way it’s the lead story on everybody’s site come Friday morning. Now it’s a commodity and something to search for. And Net Geeks love the search.
All of that said, let’s take a moment to doff our hats–or if we’re not wearing a hat, raise our coffee glasses–to Disney. If you did everything as smartly as you did this trailer, you’d be making shitloads more money and we’d have much less profanity to throw your direction. At least in a bad way. I think AICN when they started off their reveal of what happened with “Holy Shit” spoke for us all. Make us say that more often. We miss it.